Swansea vs Sheffield United | Saturday 7th August 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Following defeats on the opening weekend of the Championship season, Swansea and Sheffield United take to the field at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night very much looking to get their seasons up and running. The two clubs experienced managerial changes over the summer, and as such it is maybe not so much of a shock to see them both start below their best.
Given the rather dramatic turn of events at Swansea, it most certainly isn’t a big shock. Russell Martin was the MK Dons manager on 31 July, and was appointed the new Swansea boss the following day. This came after Steve Cooper only departed the role a few weeks beforehand.
Ironically, we saw issues in both the MK Dons’ 5-0 loss to Bournemouth and Swansea’s 2-1 setback to Blackburn Rovers which will give the Blades some optimism this weekend.
They proved particularly suspect when building up from the back, and were punished on a number of occasions in the form of goals being conceded. Clearly this rather dramatic change of approach will take some time to adjust towards, even if Swansea are used to playing a possession-based game, it is still enough of a difference to have proven troublesome on the opening weekend.
Blackburn enjoyed 18 ball recoveries in the opponents half; the second highest out of all matchday one fixtures in the Championship. Swansea were ranked 2nd as well for most balls lost in their own half.
That being said, Slavisa Jokanovic’s Sheffield United team barely won the same amount of turnovers high up the pitch in their match with Birmingham in their 1-0 defeat at Bramall Lane. It is perhaps fair we don’t take that completely in isolation as it was a match in which they enjoyed just shy of 76% of possession. Furthermore, Swansea had just below 72% of the ball in their own game, so something will have to give this weekend.
More onus will be on Swansea as the home side, especially playing in front of a packed house for the first time in several months. Both teams had a midweek Carabao Cup game, and it was Swansea who treated it more serious in terms of team selection.
Jokanovic fielded pretty much a second string, but Martin got 90 minutes into this team as he looks to get them moulding into his way of playing. That would have helped rather than a night off, plus they got a win over a weak Reading team, so that’ll boost morale a bit.
Much will ultimately depend on who can have the better in any possible high pressing game. Jokanovic may be happy to let Swansea have the ball in certain areas, but they perhaps need to be a bit quicker on the ball themselves, which they probably lacked against an organised Birmingham outfit.
I can see chances falling for both teams in this game, but I just have my doubts after both demonstrating the desired end product just yet. I did feel Sheff Utd would start the season a bit below par anyway given how badly last season went.
Furthermore, they had quite a disrupted pre-season schedule and so they went into the first match a little under cooked. Swansea are of course still settling into life without Cooper and with Martin at the helm, so they will only improve over time. Picking a winner here is tough and 2/1 on a Swansea win is tempting from a value perspective alone.
That being said, I am prepared to jump onto the Both Teams To Score priced at 1/1 (MansionBet). As mentioned, both will create chances here and whilst you can never guarantee end product, I fancy an early goal here would open things up nicely.
Secondly, and finally, I did touch upon Swansea being the value pick here and I stick by that. As such, we can get a nice little pressure on the Asian Handicap markets to get the home team on side. Swansea +0.25 is priced 13/16 (BetVictor), and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them get something out of this one.
Sure, this Swansea is much weaker than last season and they still need significantly more investment to compete for the play-offs, but in one-off games like this I fancy them at home. They improved as the game went along at Blackburn last weekend and Martin has had more training sessions to get a tune out of his side.
Swansea v Sheffield United – Both Teams To Score (1/1 MansionBet)
Swansea v Sheffield United – Swansea +0.25 Asian Handicap (13/16 BetVictor)