This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Leeds United vs Sheffield Wednesday should be an incredibly interesting matchup this Saturday.
Not only is it a Yorkshire derby between two historically massive clubs, but both teams are also duking it out at the top end of the table.
Indeed, this battle between second and third in the Championship may have huge implications in the race for the playoffs as well as the automatic promotion spots.
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Wednesday are in fine form having lost only one of their last seven league games, while Leeds have been grinding out results to keep them in the mix in recent weeks.
It’d be tough to pick a winner in this weekend’s game, but there is one key battle between two players that may decide where the points go on Saturday.
Berardi vs Fletcher
This game could very easily be won by Sheffield Wednesday if Steven Fletcher can get the better of Gaetano Berardi.
With Liam Cooper only just back from injury it’s highly likely that the Swiss defender will be starting at centre-back, and the Owls striker could have a field day against him.
Garry Monk turned Leeds over twice last season while he was Birmingham manager, and a big part of his gameplan was to utilise the aerial strengths of Lukas Jutkiewicz.
The Blues striker won a staggering 24 aerial duels across the two games he played against United last term, and Monk has another aerial monster at his disposal for this weekend.
Fletcher not only has a significant height advantage over Berardi, but he also wins more headers per 90 than the centre-back does.
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The 31-year-old is in for a busy afternoon as well as Fletcher gets of 2.5 shots per 90 on average, but those can be counteracted as Berardi manages to block 0.7 shots per game.
Fortunately for Berardi, Fletcher isn’t great at drawing fouls as he is only impeded 1.2 times per game on average, which bodes well for a man who has been sent off eight times for the Whites.
The United defender has to be ready for a bombardment in the air on Saturday, and whether or not he can handle it may well be the deciding factor on whether or not the Whites pick up points against the Owls.