West Brom vs Sheffield United| Wednesday 18th August 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
WBA have started life back in the Championship well with four points from two games, scoring six goals in the process. There will be some concern that they have also conceded four goals, but games have against Luton and Bournemouth and Albion will face easier opponents soon. But first they must welcome fellow relegated outfit Sheffield United to the Hawthorns…
Whilst the Baggies will be content with their start, the Blades will be a little more concerned with an opening day defeat to Birmingham followed up with a 0-0 draw at Swansea. Yet despite the differing starts I have both sides close to each other on xP with the Baggies winning 2.91 and Sheff Utd 2.74 points, which puts them both in mid-table.
The Baggies look good going forward despite having lost key man Matheus Pereira. Callum Robinson already has two goals and one assist to his name. They have several options with Grady Diangana, Karlan Grant, Matt Phillips, Kenneth Zohore and Adam Reach. Given the depth of quality in attacking areas there is no surprise to see the WBA have 3.1 xG already, one of the highest in the Championship.
No side has had more shots than the Baggies and they sit third for shots on-target. However, for a side we aspirations of an immediate return to the Premier League, their return of 3.1 xGA is a concern at the moment, although I believe this will improve over time as the squad become used to manager, Valerien Ismael playing strategy.
The Blades early results have been a little worrying for new manager Slavisa Jokanovic with just one point so far despite the attacking talent which includes Oliver Burke, David McGoldrick, Ollie McBurnie, Lys Mousset and Rhian Brewster, yet they have all failed to find the net.
Only four sides have had fewer shots than the Blades and they have only registered two shots on target over their two games. Only Barnsley and Derby have a lower xG with just 1.1 from two games. Yet, the alarm bells shouldn’t be ringing for Blades fans just yet as at the other end, they have conceded the second-lowest xGA across their two games, with no side conceding fewer shots on-target.
I am not sure I can see this game being full of goals despite the way the Baggies have been playing. Neither side will want to lose to a promotion rival and the Blades will come and look to keep the game tight and take a point away with them at worst.
The Yorkshire outfit will keep their shape but with the attacking qualities they have, they should be able to generate corners, which they have done so far in their games despite the lack of goals. The Blades have hit six and eight corners with the Baggies collecting eight and eight. Both sides are stacked full of pace and will play with width with Brewster and Burke for Utd and Diangana, Grant and if he plays Phillips for the hosts
Using Bet365 BetBuilder we can back both sides to hit Over 3 Corners and Under 5 Goals at 43/50.
The referee for the game is Matt Donohue and last season he averaged 3.30 cards per-game in the Championship. Of those 25 Championship games he gave both sides at least one card each on 20 occasions. So far this term the Baggies have collected three cards and two cards with their opponents picking up three cards across the two games.
In comparison, the Blades have collected one against Birmingham, two against Swansea and also two in the EFL Cup against Carlisle, with their opponents collecting six, one and one. Interestingly, the Baggies have also committed the fourth-most fouls across the two games, which should be little surprise given how the manager makes them play with pressure applied all over the pitch.
I think this will be a tough game for both sides. There is plenty of pace across the pitch, it's under the floodlights and in front of the Sky Sports cameras. I think this might be card-heavy. We can pick up both sides to collect 20+ booking points at 2/1 and that looks good value to me.