Relegation battles don’t get much bigger than this as Sheffield United host West Bromwich Albion at Bramall Lane on Tuesday in a tussle between the Premier League’s bottom two.
Chris Wilder is hoping to mastermind the most unlikely of great escapes, with his Blades side rock bottom of the table after getting off to the worst start of all time in the history of English top flight football.
It took Sheffield United 18 attempts to win their first Premier League game of the season, eventually breaking the duck when they beat Newcastle, and last week’s shock win over then-leaders Manchester United was just their second three points of the campaign.
As such, the Blades are bottom of the league and on 8 points, 4 away from opponents West Brom and at least 12 from safety as things stand.
The Baggies haven’t fared much better, although things haven’t been quite as miserable as affairs at Bramall Lane.
After Slaven Bilic’s sacking in mid-December, Sam Allardyce – who has never been relegated from the Premier League as a manager – was drafted in to keep West Brom up.
It’s been a tough task for Big Sam, who saw his side relinquish the lead against fellow relegation candidates Fulham on Saturday to keep Albion second from bottom.
Home form has been a real issue since Allardyce took charge, but there has been slightly more success on the road – Big Sam’s first win as Baggies boss came at Molineux in the Black Country derby against Wolves.
If the weekend’s clash with Fulham was a ‘6-pointer’ then West Brom’s game with Sheffield United may be a ’12-pointer’, such is the significance at the bottom of the league which sees close rivals Fulham boast a game in hand over both these sides.
For Sheffield United, Enda Stevens and Jack Robinson are in contention to feature after overcoming recent injuries and Chris Wilder may be tempted to use them both from the off. Jack O’Connell remains out with a long term knee issue.
West Brom have minimal fitness concerns also, with just Grady Diangana out for the Baggies with a hamstring strain.
New signing Mbaye Diagne made a big impact off the bench against Fulham and may make his full debut on Tuesday night against Sheffield United after his loan arrival from Turkish side Galatasaray.
Sheffield United v West Brom is a 6pm kick off on Tuesday 2nd February.