QPR vs Sheffield United predictions: Blades sharpen focus

Daniel Childs
LiveScore
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom knows his side need to end the season on a high
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom knows his side need to end the season on a high

The battle for the Championship play-off places continues to excite with just days left in the 46-game campaign and two of the promotion hopefuls collide in London tonight. 

QPR are six points outside of the top six with two games remaining and need an unlikely sequence of results to go in their favour, starting with a victory over Sheffield United.

The West Londoners' main motivation will be to appease their fans by winning their last scheduled home game of the season. 

But the Blades have a lot more riding on the outcome because they know that two more wins would make sure of a top-six finish.

Team news

In recent months, Mark Warburton's men have been hampered by injuries to influential players and there has been no let-up this week.

The home side must continue to make do without first, second and third choice goalkeepers Seny Dieng, David Marshall and Jordan Archer, as well as defenders Lee Wallace, Moses Odubajo and Rob Dickie along with influential attacker Chris Willock.

The visitors, meanwhile, are hoping for some good news on the injury front with first-choice right wing-back George Baldock looking to shake off a muscle strain and top scorer Billy Sharp pushing to make his first start in over a month.

However, Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom is a long way short of a full-strength squad because defenders Jack O'Connell, Charlie Goode and Jayden Bogle, plus strikers Oli McBurnie, Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick, remain unavailable.

Match stats and facts

QPR boss Mark Warburton will need to get the best out of his side if they are to finish in the top six
QPR boss Mark Warburton will need to get the best out of his side if they are to finish in the top six

The sixth-placed Blades are warm favourites to get the three points they need to make sure they remain in control of their destiny going into next weekend's final round of fixtures.

The scenario is less straightforward for the Hoops, who will only stay in mathematical top-six contention if they beat the Blades and seventh-placed Middlesbrough fail to win tomorrow's fixture at home to Stoke.

For QPR to even have a theoretical chance of promotion is quite remarkable, bearing in mind they have taken just four points from their last eight fixtures.

Rangers have recorded just three wins from their last 16 league games and their poor run is set to contribute to a summer of change, with boss Warburton already confirmed to be leaving the club at the end of the season.

The 59-year-old said: "A manager’s aim must always be to leave the club in a better position than when he or she joined, and as my tenure in the role draws to a close, I hope very much that this is indeed the case."

Sheffield United seem a happier bunch and have accrued 46 points from 25 games since late November when Paul Heckingbottom replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in the dugout.

The South Yorkshire side have been much less consistent in recent weeks and they head to the capital without an away win in their last six attempts.

Predictions

Sheffield United will fancy their chances of beating QPR with Billy Sharp leading the line
Sheffield United will fancy their chances of beating QPR with Billy Sharp leading the line

It is slightly concerning the Blades have not won an away game for almost three months, but they look worthy favourites to defeat QPR.

Heckingbottom's side have kept five clean sheets in their last eight fixtures and they should function much better in attack with a fully-fit Sharp in contention to play an important role.

The Blades were worthy 1-0 winners at home to Cardiff last Saturday —– with Sharp coming off the bench — and they should take care of business against injury-hit hosts, who are struggling to cope with the ongoing absence of key players and a general lack of confidence.

Tags

ChampionshipQueens Park RangersSheffield United
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