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Michael Taylor 19th Apr 2009 - 20:52

Burnley's play-off march to hit the skids at Turf Moor

Monday night is make or break time for two Championship teams with very different aspirations but, by the end of the day, it may be Kevin Blackwell's Sheffield United that leave with their dreams still intact.

The Blades travel to Burnley's Turf Moor knowing a win is vital if Birmingham are to be caught in the race for the last remaining automatic promotion spot however, with the Clarets desperate for the points themselves, a classic tussle could be on the cards.

Sheffield Utd are the Championship's form team and had it not been for a minor blip against Nottingham Forest last weekend then they would have been favourites to finish the season in second place.

Instead, after Birmingham's victory over Watford, they probably need to take a maximum nine points from nine including the three on offer at Turf Moor.

It certainly won't be easy though as Burnley will be giving their all in an attempt to fend off Swansea from the play-off positions but, on paper, it does appear the Blades have just about enough to score an eleventh away win of the season.

Buoyed by the excellent form of Greg Halford and Darius Henderson, United are not short of strength to go with their fast, direct style of football and it could be this power that makes the 9/5 about an away win look so interesting.

It is also the reason that no Championship team has been able to beat the Blades at home since a narrow loss against Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday right back in October of last year.

It's not like Burnley (and Birmingham) fans have no reason for optimism though.

The Clarets have been impressive for large parts of the season and their home record ranks amongst the very best in the division.

Also, a fine 3-2 win over the Blades at Bramall Lane earlier in the season is a great boost for a team that has not been at its best on the road.

Their problem is, the Blades have massively improved since that day and, with star striker Martin Paterson unavailable, they may lack the cutting edge to cause Chris Morgan and Leigh Bromby too many problems.

As mentioned before, Darius Henderson is really beginning to flourish in the red and white stripes and his partnership with Jamie Ward has been a great foundation for recent successes.

Henderson is a 13/2 shot to score the first of the game and, as he will be the focal point of most Blades attacks, he does look good value.

As for Burnley, their best chance could well come from former Man Utd winger Chris Eagles, who has been terrific in his first full season in the famous Claret and Blue.

Eagles is the driving force behind most good things Burnley do and it could be vital for his team's chances that he justifies the 5/1 about scoring at anytime.

However, with Gary Naysmith and Kyle Naughton both performing with aplomb, Owen Coyle's side may struggle to stop the Blades from registering a league best eighteenth clean sheet of the season - Sheff Utd to keep a clean sheet is available at a healthy 9/4.

It may well come down to how Clarke Carlisle and Stephen Caldwell cope at the heart of Burnley's defence but you do have to fancy the Blades netting at least once.

It all makes the 13/2 about a 1-0 Blades victory look a good bet as Burnley's play-off charge could receive a killer blow.

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