Derby County and Sheffield United supporters are eagerly anticipating the meeting between the two teams in the Championship this weekend, with both going into the clash off the back of contrasting results prior to the international break.
Frank Lampard’s men have made a solid start to the campaign in winning five of their opening 12 league matches, yet they are winless in three after only mustering a 1-1 draw at Queens Park Rangers last time out, which followed a draw against Norwich City and a 1-0 loss at Bolton Wanderers.
Yet Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United have been in tremendous form in recent times in winning each of their last four Championship matches and eight of their last ten, their most recent success coming in the Yorkshire derby against Hull City just before the current two-week break for internationals.
And both sides will be hoping to improve further as the season wears on having been reasonably busy during the summer window, with Lampard adding the likes of Mason Mount and Harry Wilson to his Derby squad, while Wilder lured the likes of Oliver Norwood and Ben Woodburn to Bramall Lane.
And it’s the two Liverpool loanees in the form of messrs Wilson and Woodburn which are of particular interest, so let’s see how the two compare…
21-year-old Wilson has come up through the youth ranks at Liverpool but has so far made just one senior appearance for the Merseyside giants, which came back at the start of 2017 in an FA Cup third round replay at Plymouth Argyle.
Instead, the Wales international has been learning his trade in the Football League at Crewe Alexandra, Hull City, and now Derby, with the winger certainly producing the goods at the latter two to underline his bright future in the game.
Wilson netted seven goals in just 14 games for Hull last term to help keep them in the second tier, and he has since delivered at Pride Park for Lampard’s Derby in scoring twice in nine appearances for the Rams.
And one of those goals was an absolute stunner in their shock Carabao Cup victory at Manchester United last month, before following that up with a similarly well-taken free kick for Wales in their win over the Republic of Ireland in Dublin earlier this week.
Clearly, the 21-year-old is making his mark in the East Midlands, and after a fine season last term as well, it appears that he is slowly but surely fulfilling his undoubted potential.
TT Verdict: A
Ben Woodburn has been touted as the next big-thing for some time now following his incredible Liverpool break-through against Leeds United back in November 2016, in which he became the club’s youngest-ever goal-scorer.
And while he has certainly made his mark on the international scene with Wales in netting once in eight caps, the 19-year-old’s club career hasn’t quite taken off just yet with only ten further appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, thus prompting Sheffield United to take him on loan for the entirety of this season.
And given the hype surrounding Woodburn, it was a deal that excited many Blades fans, but it simply hasn’t worked out for the 19-year-old so far with only six Championship appearances to his name, of which just one was a start.
And in failing to appear in any of their last three matchday league squads, it’s not looking good for Woodburn in his bid for regular football, albeit the long, hard slog that is a Championship season will surely offer up plenty of opportunities in Wilder’s team.
Yes, it’s not going great at the moment, but with squad rotation vital in the second tier, the Liverpool youngster is sure to get his chance for the Yorkshire side.
TT Verdict: B+
Clearly, both of these Liverpool sensations have got a very bright future ahead of them, while both have already made their mark on the international scene for Wales to further underline their potential.
Yes, things aren’t quite going to plan for Woodburn at Sheffield United, but he’ll be learning a lot from his first loan spell away from Anfield, and will likely return to Merseyside an even better player from his experiences at Bramall Lane.
In the present though, it is all about Derby’s Wilson, whose brilliant strike against United and indeed for Wales earlier this week has risen his stock ten-fold, and as such appears at present to be streets ahead of his fellow Liverpool youngster.
Derby and Sheffield United fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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