The EFL Championship promotion playoffs are here as Sheffield United take on Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the semi-final at Bramall Lane. The last time these two teams met back in March 2022, they played out a 1-1 draw, with Billy Sharp and Ryan Yates scoring for the Blades and Forest, respectively. Coming into this game, Sheffield United thrashed Fulham 4-0, and Nottingham Forest drew 1-1 at Hull City.
Sheffield United enter the playoffs having smashed the champions Fulham 4-0. The goals were netted by Morgan Gibbs-White, Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge and Enda Stevens. The Blades finished the regular season with a record of 21 wins, 12 draws and 13 losses, and a goal difference of +18. Sheffield United conceded fewer goals than what xGA predicted. The metric estimated that the Blades would concede 50 goals, but in reality, they have let in five fewer (45).
Oliver Norwood is Sheffield United’s most successful threat creator in this EFL Championship season from both open play as well as from set-pieces. In spite of this threat creation, he has only the third-most assists in the Blades’ squad. Above him are Morgan Gibbs-White and the veteran forward, Billy Sharp, with nine and seven assists to their name, respectively. Norwood has four assists to his name.
Given above is the shot map of Sheffield United in this season of the EFL Championship, excluding the penalties. There have been a few big misses from inside the opposition’s six-yard box. This may have cost a few wins or draws in the course of the regular season. Overall, the Blades have taken 578 shots and scored 62 goals (excluding the own goals scored by opponents), which means they have needed 9.32 shots to score a goal.
Nottingham Forest come into this fixture having ended their regular season with a 1-1 away draw at Hull City. Brennan Johnson put Forest ahead in stoppage time, but Keane Lewis Potter netted later in the very same stoppage time. Forest ended the regular season with 23 wins, 11 draws and 12 losses to their name and a goal difference of +33. Thanks to Fulham’s 0-4 defeat on the final matchday, Nottingham Forest finished the season as the second-best defence, behind Bournemouth, with 40 goals conceded. At the back, Forest have overperformed on their xGA of 53 by shipping 13 goals fewer.
Not only have Nottingham Forest overperformed on their xG per 90 of 1.38, but they have also outperformed their xA per 90 of 0.84. Forest also rank in the top 10% for progressive runs per 90. They have also completed 69% of their dribbles during the season, putting them in the 95th percentile.
Nottingham Forest are in better form coming into this game as they have lost just four games since the beginning of the year. Sheffield United will hope to derail this Forest Train.