Sheffield derby gives diverging rivals a vital chance to test their mettle | Ben Fisher

A Dutchman in freefall faces a seismic showdown with a local hero on the up when United host Wednesday on Friday night

The age-old maxim goes that form counts for nothing when the stakes are so unbearably high, but there is no doubt that the 130th Steel City derby is a meeting between two teams ostensibly heading in different directions. In the red corner at Bramall Lane will be third-placed Sheffield United and in the blue, a disorderly and off-colour Sheffield Wednesday who will make the four-mile journey to the south of the city after four successive defeats.

When Wednesday arrive on Friday evening, they will be entering Chris Wilder territory. The United manager was a boyhood Blade; ballboy, fan and then full-back before being offered his dream job in May 2016. Wilder’s first taste of the Sheffield derby was on the terraces in 1980 as a 12-year-old, but savours every one like it is his last.

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