Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United | Saturday 2nd January 2021, 15:00 | Sky Sports
Crystal Palace will be hoping they can build on an impressive point at Leicester as they welcome Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon.
Roy Hodgson is expected to reinstate the likes Eberechi Eze, Patrick van Aanholt and James McArthur for the clash with the Blades.
Sheffield United did not reveal who tested positive for COVID, however, with Phil Jagielka and Billy Sharp missing the action at Turf More they are the most likely culprits. A shortage of available players means that 16-year-old Antwoine Hackford is expected to have a spot on the bench.
I am going to delve into the corner markets for my first proposals. Excluding the games with first half red cards, over the course of the campaign, the Blades have averaged 4.1 corners and conceded 4.6 per game. Palace have averaged slightly more with 4.7 for and conceded 5.3.
In their last five games, Sheffield United's average has risen to 5.2 as they have had 5/5/6/4/6 corners, winning the count in four of those five games. Over the same period of games, Palace's corner average has dropped to four per game (2/4/5/5/4).
Bet365 have Sheffield United +1.5 on the Asian Handicap Corner line at 1.975 which takes appeal. The +2 on the corner handicap is the same bet but the Asian line is slightly longer odds. The bet is a winner as long as SUFC do not lose the corner count by two or more, something that has only happened once in both sides last five EPL games (excluding Brighton vs SUFC).
Given the underlying data, I've also had a poke at Sheffield United to have the most corners at odds of 47/20 with Unibet.
The last time these sides met at Selhurst Park, The Times' Matthew Syed accused Sheffield United of institutionalised bullying as their players eligibly took it in turns to foul Wilfred Zaha. Syed was infuriated by what he refereed to as the “scourge of the game” as Palace's talisman was fouled a total of eight times by a plethora of Bladesmen with Baldock and Fleck cautioned for their offences.
In his penultimate EPL game, Zaha was also fouled eight times and he may also be in for another painful afternoon. Hodgson is expected to bring Eze back into the line-up who should shoulder a chunk of Sheff Utd's brutality given his pace and trickery. The pair are Palace's most fouled players; Zaha three pG and Eze 2.3.
Excluding their games vs Villa and Brighton- where they had a man sent of in the first half- Sheffield United have conceded an average of 14.3 fouls per game. Palace, on the other hand, are one of the most fouled teams in the league drawing just under 12 a game.
Last season, Sheffield United conceded 17 and 18 fouls to Palace. Virgin Bet have them to concede over 12.5 at 7/10. Find it under the ‘Others' tab.
Finally, the traditionally cagey nature of this game combined with referee appointment points to cards in this one. Stuart Atwell has the whistle and he tops the bookings per game averages with 4.88.
Given the shortage of midfielders in Sheffield and the fact that Wilder will not play left side players on the right side, I would defiantly wait for team news as there could be a re-shuffle in store. However, assuming they all start I like the look of a George Baldock, James McArthur and John Egan booking treble at odds of 52/1 with William Hill. You can combine this trio of players under their ‘Bet Builder' feature.
Baldock was booked in both games last season and, as already touched on, Zaha was fouled a total of 13 times over those two games! Baldock conceded a total of seven fouls and was lucky not to get a second yellow in when the sides last met. Although it is very short for a Premier League booking, I would take a Baldock card as a single if he starts at 5/2 with Unibet.
Egan is the Blades joint most carded player this season with five (four yellow and a red). Wilder has struggled to replace O'Connell at LCB and without him Egan has certainly being more exposed. He'll be facing the physicality of Benteke and the mercurial Zaha so will have his work cut out. I also like McAthur for Palace. He has the highest foul average of any Eagles player this season.
Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United – Sheffield United +1.5 Asian Handicap Corners (1.98 Bet365)
Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United – Sheffield United Most Corners (47/20 Unibet)
Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United – Sheffield United +12.5 Fouls (7/10 Virgin Bet)
Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United – George Baldock to be carded (5/2 Unibet)
Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United – George Baldock, James McArthur and John Egan to be carded treble (52/1 William Hill)