Swansea beaten at Blackburn
Swansea suffered a 2-1 reverse at Blackburn in Russell Martin's first match in charge last weekend. The Swans fully implemented their new ideas under the former MK Dons boss but were undone by repeated errors in Lancashire; Rovers drilled home in the opening period before a penalty doubled the hosts' lead following a howler from Steven Benda.
City threw caution to the wind and were back in the contest through Martin's first Swansea signing Jamie Paterson just before the hour mark. But the patched-up squad - missing Connor Roberts, Jay Fulton, Joel Piroe, Ben Hamer and Ryan Manning - were unable to nab an equaliser and deservedly beaten after giving up a hefty Expected Goals (xG) figure.
Captain Matt Grimes did play despite speculation linking the midfielder with a move away, whilst the aforementioned Paterson was thrown straight into the starting XI little more than 24 hours after arriving, highlighting Martin's lack of resources. Swansea did bounce back from defeat with a Tuesday night EFL Cup success away at Reading.
Sheffield United fail to fire
Sheffield United began life back in the Championship with a 1-0 reverse at home to Birmingham last weekend. The Blades - under Slavisa Jokanovic's tutorship for the first time in competitive action - were undone at the back post for the opener, although Oliver Burke smashed a low drive against the woodwork as United came close to an immediate equaliser.
Jokanovic threw on strikers Oli McBurnie, Rhian Brewster and Billy Sharp in pursuit of a leveller but the Blades could not break down a resolute and organised Birmingham side. In fact, the margin of victory could have been larger with the visitors missing a fine chance to extend their advantage when Scott Hogan hooked over from six yards out.
Sheffield United generated just 0.63 Expected Goals (xG) at Bramall Lane and saw starting striker Lys Mousset breakdown with injury. However, Rhian Brewster ended his long wait for his first Blades goal in midweek as Jokanovic's charges comfortably dispatched Carlisle in the EFL Cup first round at Bramall Lane. Brewster is now expected to start here on Saturday.
Swansea and Sheffield United have crossed paths in only four of the past 13 seasons - all four of taking place in the second-tier - with the Welsh side earning top honours in each of the most recent three. The Swans have also posted victories in their past three games when hosting the Blades and are unbeaten at home to Sheff Utd since 1958 (W5-D2-L0).
Swansea 3.1511/5 have endured a difficult summer with pre-season plans thrown into disarray following the departure of head coach Steve Cooper. Russell Martin's arrival should ensure long-term stability at the Liberty Stadium, although his options are limited without last season's key loan signings in situ, and star forward Andre Ayew having departed for Qatar.
After tabling a ninth-place finish on their return to the Premier League, second season syndrome hit Sheffield United 2.526/4 hard last term; the Blades' poor results spiralled out of control and relegation appeared imminent as early as Christmas. Serial promotion-winner Slavisa Jokanovic has been given a remit to get United back in the big time at the first attempt.
It's far too early to make sweeping statements based off just one Championship contest, although both Swansea and Sheffield United looked a bit behind the eight ball. The visitors are expected to challenge the automatic promotion places yet failed to inspire, whilst the Swans are bound to experience teething problems as they switch style and system.
Neither team therefore hold huge appeal in the Match Odds market, although punters are advised to dip into the Bet Builder on the Sportsbook where 1.824/5 can be snapped up on Sheffield United Double Chance and Over 1.5 Goals. We'll effectively be paid out should the Blades draw by any scoreline other than 0-0 or win by any scoreline other than 1-0.
Swansea are unlikely to be up to full speed under Russell Martin's watch and Blackburn enjoyed plenty of success when pressing the Welsh club high. Should the Blades replicate that out-of-possession tactic, the visitors' superior firepower should be capable of making a meaningful impact.