Sheffield United entertain Tottenham at Bramall Lane in Thursday evening's early Premier League encounter. Mark O'Haire previews the contest.
"The Blades still boast an impressive W11-D11-L4 against clubs outside the top-three, including W7-D3-L2 here at Bramall Lane"
Sheffield United v Tottenham
Thursday July 2, 18:00
Sheff Utd suffer last-gasp heartache
Sheffield United were dumped out of the FA Cup in the 91st-minute of their quarter-final showdown with Arsenal on Sunday at Bramall Lane. It was a cruel blow for the Blades who thought they were heading for extra-time when David McGoldrick's hooked finish levelled proceedings late on, only for Dani Ceballos to seal a 2-1 success in stoppage-time.
Chris Wilder's outfit produced a much-improved effort in their first home fixture since lockdown was lifted. United conceded the opener from a soft penalty award and had two goals correctly chalked off for offside but the Blades were largely on the front-foot and looked more like their own selves, paying for their own profligate second-half finishing.
Post-match Wilder said: "It's a positive step. Of course we are gutted to lose but there are ways to lose football matches and we pushed Arsenal to the limit. They had to defend for their lives at times."
United are likely to be without John Lundstram after the midfielder was withdrawn with a shoulder injury, although Jack O'Connell is close to a return.
Tottenham return after long lay-off
After a nine day lay-off, Tottenham return to action fresh from beating capital rivals West Ham 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Victory was Spurs' first in eight games, as well as the club's first success on home soil since early February, with Tomas Soucek's unfortunate own goal and Harry Kane's 18th goal of the season doing the damage.
Jose Mourinho chalked up his 300th win in English football as his side produced a solid if not spectacular display that punished a toothless effort from the Hammers, who threatened little bar an attempt that hit the woodwork. Spurs still face an uphill struggle to reach the top four - Betfair Exchange punters make them [32.0] to finish in the leading quartet - but the Spurs boss maintains belief that it remains within reach.
Mourinho said: "First of all three points were not important, they were crucial. I said to the players 'don't think if we don't win this match we can still think about chances', it was three points or nothing. I am happy with the result, the clean sheet, it means the team is more solid, the players have less doubts."
Spurs are unlikely to make major changes here.
Blades big outsiders at Bramall Lane
Recent meetings between Sheffield United and Tottenham have been scarce, although Spurs haven't earned top honours at Bramall Lane in league football since 1975 (W0-D4-L3). The two teams played out an enjoyable 1-1 draw when locking horns in North London back in November, a match that turned out to be Mauricio Pochettino's last in charge of Spurs.
Sheffield United [4.30] have upset the odds to sit inside the Premier League's top-half following promotion last season. Despite the downturn in results since the league's recent resumption, the Blades still boast an impressive W11-D11-L4 against clubs outside the top-three, including W7-D3-L2 here at Bramall Lane, alongside six home clean sheets.
Tottenham [2.04] have failed to completely convince during Jose Mourinho's reign and Spurs have tended to fall short against the top-half clubs this term. The visitors have picked up a measly three triumphs from 15 against the leading lights (W3-D5-L7) and recorded just five Premier League clean sheets across the campaign, highlighting their vulnerabilities.
Spurs too short to support
Sheff Utd impressed despite defeat against Arsenal with the Blades limiting the Gunners to only 10 shots and three on-target attempts here. Chris Wilder's side are wonderfully organised out of possession and devilishly difficult to beat and so I'm surprised to see the hosts as such big underdogs for Thursday night's fixture.
United have seen 11/15 (73%) home league fixtures produce Under 2.5 Goals [1.75] with just one featuring four goals or more and so siding with the Blades in a low-scoring showdown is preferable once more. Backing Sheff Utd Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals gives us a 2.30 shot via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market.
Tottenham have scored twice or more on only two road trips since December - at the bottom-two (Norwich and Aston Villa) - and could struggle to justify their short odds. Spurs went off at [2.75] on their last Premier League road trip at Burnley and there's little evidence to suggest Jose Mourinho's men deserve such a significant move in the market.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 147.00 pts
Returned: 167.67 pts
P/L: +20.67 pts