Sheffield United v Crystal Palace: Wilf to thrive in open encounter

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THE talented Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) has analysed the markets ahead of Super Sunday's showdown from Bramall Lane as Sheffield United host Crystal Palace.

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace | Sunday 18th August 2019, 14:00 | Sky Sports

It’s Sheffield United’s first Premier League home game of the season so it’s quite the occasion if you’re a Blade – it’s been over 12 years since their last, and in that time Phil Jagielka has left, played nearly 400 games for Everton and come back.

For Crystal Palace, it’s a chance to get their season properly underway after a futile stalemate against Everton on the opening day. Though with it being the first game of the season, it shouldn’t be too worrying, and at the end of the day they’ve managed to keep hold of star man Wilfried Zaha until at least January.

Into the first bet for the match, it is the Both Teams to Score market that particularly appeals at 21/20 (Sportingbet). For me, it’s the best value out there regardless of outcome as the bookies seem to be underrating Palace’s ability to score – they haven’t lost Zaha – and United are at home – a place they’ve lost at just once in the last 19 league games.

I think the Blades' set-up a little too defensively at Bournemouth but they’ll be super pleased with nabbing a point. Both their key strikers started on the bench with £20m man Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp – I expect either of these or both to start up top on Sunday, the latter scored in the 88th minute, very super-sub-esque. Chris Wilder's charges will create plenty of chances at Bramall Lane, in what should be a huge boisterous sold out crowd.

Palace are without James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho, who were regular choices last season meaning Gary Cahill could start – given he hasn’t had much of pre-season, he could be vulnerable. The Eagles also look a bit weak without the influence of Aaron Wan-Bisakka at right-back.

Using WhoScored, we can see that Sheffield United are prone too defending set-pieces, whilst Palace are particularly strong in aerial duels. On the other hand, the Blades are strong in creating long shot opportunities… something that Roy Hodgson’s men struggle to defend against.

Furthermore, Palace were much stronger away from home last season, recording the sixth-best away record in the league. Only Manchester City have scored more goals away from home in 2019 – Palace have 20 goals on the road this year.

Another factor is the visitor’s ability to launch scathing counter attacks with Patrick van Aanholt at left-back and the likes of Max Meyer and Andros Townsend in midfield – if United attack at home, which they should, then Hodgson can exploit the counter to create chances.

Zaha to make an impact

For me, there are question marks over whether or not Chris Wilder’s backline is up to the standard of the Premier League. Which leads us onto the next bet of Zaha to be First Palace Goalscorer. He should start this match after having a full week to prepare with no added distractions.

Last week, the 26-year-old missed training due to transfer interest coincidentally from Everton who they played on the opening day – that could explain why the winger fired a dud with the added pressures and so on. Zaha came on for the final 25 minutes and his impact was clear straight away, tying the most amount of dribbles for any player in Palace’s side in a fraction of the time.

Nine of Zaha’s 10 goals last season came away from home and with him due to start this weekend that’s a mouthwatering prospect as he’s certainly Palace’s best player.

50% of Sheffield United’s attacks come from along the right whilst 48% of Palace’s come from the left meaning there’s going to be conflict there with players surely getting found out of position – this will allow Zaha more time and freedom on the other side of the pitch to get into the right areas, further enhancing his goalscoring chances.

Best Bets

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace – Both Teams To Score (21/20 Sportingbet)

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha to be the First Team Goalscorer (4/1 Betfair)

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