Sheffield Utd v West Brom: Slow-burner in store at Bramall Lane

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at Friday night's match-up between high-flying pair Sheffield United and West Brom at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United v West Brom | Friday 14th December 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports

Third meets fifth in the Championship on Friday night as Sheffield United welcome West Brom to Bramall Lane. At first glance, this looks to be a particular tough game to call. The market is finding it difficult to separate the two, but there are plenty of angles that we can get our teeth stuck into.

Home advantage and being slightly higher in the table affords narrow favouritism to the Blades. Chris Wilder’s side enter this contest on the back of a solid away triumph at managerless Reading, but they have not won back-to-back games since October.

Meanwhile, Darren Moore’s men might be unbeaten in five but two home draws in the last two gives them with something to prove. There were contrasting emotions in both, conceding late to Brentford but netting a controversial equaliser to level with rivals Villa. Perhaps they would view a point here as a good outcome, but they are not the sort of side to settle for stalemates.

The same can really be said of Sheff Utd, who very much look to go for the jugular in every game they play. That is simply the Wilder way, which is to play on the front foot, take the game to the opposition and ultimately win.

West Brom are one of only two teams in the league to score 40+ goals so far, the other being in-form Aston Villa. Sheff Utd are not too far behind with their 34 strikes, making them the fifth-highest scorers in the English second tier.

Whilst both of these teams tend to associate themselves with goals, it does not necessarily mean the goals will flow on Friday night. Quite a lot of the time, when two teams of this nature collide, it can lead to quite a tactical affair with both cancelling one another out. Sheffield United versus Leeds a few weeks ago looked nailed on to contain goals, with Leeds prevailing 1-0 on the day.

Moore, a former defender in his playing days, will be especially keen to make them harder to beat and get some clean sheets on the board. It is now 12 games in succession for the Baggies where they have failed to protect Sam Johnstone’s goal from a clean sheet.

29% clean sheets for Sheffield United might not necessarily seem too strong, but it is still the joint-fifth best at this level. West Brom have the worst clean sheet record in the league, alongside Sheffield Wednesday.

However, a telling statistic which is why we are going to back the selection we’re going to do is as follows. 60% of the time in Sheffield United home matches, the score at half time is 0-0. 40% of the time in West Brom’s away clashes it is 0-0 too. This makes it the most popular score for the two in those respective categories.

Given how we fancy this to be a little tactical, we’ll plump for the 0-0 Half Time Score at an attractive 127/50 (Marathon).

On the flip side, we do still feel there will be a goal or two later on in the match – 70% of West Brom’s goals scored come after half time, as have 60% of the goals they have conceded. It is not so emphatic focusing on Sheffield United, but it is still 56% goals for and 67% goals against in the second period.

80% of Sheff Utd’s home goals conceded appear in the second half too, quite tellingly. Along with 56% of goals scored. Finally, West Brom score 67% of their away goals and concede 57% of their goals on the road in the second 45 too.

We can get 11/10 (Betfair) on the Second Half to be Highest Scoring Half. The stats suggest there is a more than good chance of this happened.

Best Bets

Sheffield United v West Brom – 0-0 Half-Time Correct Score (127/50 Marathon)

Sheffield United v West Brom – Second-Half to be the Highest Scoring Half (11/10 Betfair)

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