Sheffield United vs Manchester United | Thursday 17th December 2020, 20:00 | Amazon Prime
The culminating action of MD13 sees the oldest United welcome the most famous one to Bramall Lane.
Hosts, Sheffield United, dismal campaign drags on; they still sit rock bottom, on a solitary point and eight points adrift of safety. Their preceding EPL trip to the South Coast was perhaps their worst performance to date and things don't get any easier for Chris Wilder.
The Blades supremo faces a side that drubbed them 3-0 the last time they faced off without his mainstay up-top, Oli McBurnie. Personally, I expect Lys Mousset to come in at ST alongside Oli Burke. The Blades are yet to dominate proceedings possession wise this season but against sides that like the ball, Wilder usually opts for pace as a pose to guile up-top.
That being said, David McGoldrick's nous and his ability to link up play has been missed. Also, I expect Lowe to come back in at LWB and Wilder to restore his faith in the midfield trio that served him so well last season; Oli Norwood, John Fleck and John Lundstrum.
For visitors Manchester United, inconsistency is still rife. They followed their UCL defeat to RBL- that caused a premature exit- with a lacklustre, goal-less draw in the Manchester Derby.
Against a bigger side- such as PSG- Ole Gunnar Solskaer has found a formulae that works, however, against the lesser sides he clearly has not. The Red Devils are devoid of structure, tactically inept and sporadic. Prior to the Man City game, this has seen them feature in some topsy-turvy affairs. Vs both West Ham and Southampton they trailed at HT, only to rely on individual brilliance to bail them out.
You have to wonder how long can they go on like this? In all bar three of their EPL games this season- Man City, Chelsea and West Brom- their opposition has scored, averaging 1.4 goals against away from home.
Given the Blades impotency in-front of goal I cannot justify getting behind overs or BTTS, however, given Man Utd's sluggish record in the EPL I think Bet365's line of Sheffield United +0.5 1st Half Asian Handicap at 17/20 offers the best of both worlds.
Despite being amidst a season long win-less streak, SUFC have started brightly in most of their fixtures and have only gone in at HT trailing five times. At home they've have being avoiding defeat come the half way point in 66.7% of their EPL fixtures. Staggeringly, Manchester United have being losing or drawing at HT in ten of their eleven EPL games this season!
Under Bet365's ‘Specials' tab you can back MUFC to win from behind at 7/1 which takes some appeal. However, I'm not confident Sheff United will score so if your going to back them to do so you may as well do so at a bigger price, under Bet365's ‘Bet Builder' you can combine ‘1st Half result will be Sheff Utd' with ‘Match result will be Man Utd' at 28/1.
At such a bleak period of their EPL tenure, Sheffield United's mysery was compounded further in their penultimate game vs Leicester as Jamie Vardy- a Sheffield Wednesday fan- scored deep into stoppage time to deny the Blades a much needed point.
Not content with depriving bitter foe of a confidence boost, he then further twisted the knife by obliterating the corner flag with a horrific two-footed tackle. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if ex-Blade Harry Maguire came back to haunt his former club on his home coming the evening as Kyle Walker did in identical circumstances earlier this season.
Despite his side scoring a total of six goals when the sides last met last season, Maguire was not amongst the scorers on either occasions. However, he has already equalled his EPL goals tally for last campaign (1) and more impressively, he is averaging 1.45 shots p90, ranking him sixth amongst the United side.
Maguire has only failed to register a at least a shot in one game; Man Utd's 1-6 defeat to Spurs and a large chunk of that game they had to play with ten men. So, I have had a small play on Bet365's price of 22/1 for him to score first and 8/1 for him to score anytime.
This angle is not based just on a narrative and a few shot statistics though, Sheffield United's defending this season for set pieces has being woeful! They've conceded six goals via them which means only Leicester (7) and Leeds (8) have conceded more but both of which have played a game more.
In their last five games, 32.1% of the shots the Blades have conceded have been via SP and corners with centre backs averaging 0.7 SpG. It is also worth noting that, on average, Man Utd have being fouled 10.8 pG and Sheff Utd have averaged 12 pG and given how deep the Blades will sit (especially if Jagielka starts again) these free kicks will be conceded in some pretty advantageous places.
Manchester United have also had a total of 61 corners so far this season, all of which combines to suggest Maguire should have ample opportunities to at least get his slab head on something.