Brighton v Sheffield United
Sunday December 20, 12:00
Live on Sky Sports
Sorry Seagulls have hit the buffers
Although they comfortably beat Newcastle away 3-0 in their second game of the season, Brighton started the new campaign slowly, losing three of their first four, but after defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United at home and a 4-2 away reverse to an in-form Everton, Graham Potter's charges went on a decent little run throughout October and November - losing just one of their next six Premier League matches.
Over a two-month period, the Seagulls sole loss came away at Spurs (2-1) and if they'd been less profligate in front of goal, they'd have fared even better, but since they drew 1-1 at home to Liverpool at the end of November, thanks to a last-minute Pascal Gros equaliser form the penalty spot, Brighton have lost their way.
Defeats at home to Southampton and away to Leicester were followed by a drab 0-0 draw at Fulham on Wednesday and what looked like being a comfortable season for the Seagulls, is starting to look a bit more stressful.
A home game against bottom club, Sheffield United, should be just the sort of opportunity needed to sign off in style before Christmas but there are at least three reasons to swerve the Seagulls at odds-on...
Brighton have won their final league match before Christmas just twice in the last 12 seasons, they've failed to win any of their last 10 Premier League home games and understandably, given that second stat, of the ever-present Premier League sides in 2020, Brighton have won the fewest home points this calendar year. So far, they've accumulated just 10.
Blunt Blades breaking all the wrong records
If Brighton are on a poor run, Sheffield United are on an abysmal one. After a brilliant start to their first season back in the Premier League last term, when they even flirted with European qualification, the Blades really struggled after the restart - winning just three of ten. So well had they played before the break that Chris Wilder's men still finished ninth in the Premier League, despite their indifferent post-break form and despite losing their last three matches.
Sheffield United fans are realistic enough not to have begun the season dreaming of Europe but given they were matched as high as 7.06/1 to be relegated, even the most pessimistic Blade wouldn't have expected a start this bad.
United have really missed the presence of home fans and so far this season they've lost 12 of 13, with a 1-1 draw at home to fellow strugglers, Fulham, their only positive result. That's the worst start to a season in English top-flight history. They're now trading at long odds-on to return to the Championship and if they get beat on Sunday, they'll have lost nine away in-a-row on the road. Something that hasn't happened to the Blades since 1975.
On the plus side, the Blades haven't lost their final game before Christmas in 12 years or their last five away games at Brighton, and perhaps more pertinently, despite losing 3-2 at home to Manchester United on Thursday night, they at least found the net a couple of times and they found a bit of fight.
Wilder was very disappointed with their 3-0 defeat at Southampton last weekend and he had every right to be. They may not have been collecting points this season, but the Blades have at least been showing some heart - not something that could be said of their trip to St Mary's.
Both to score the value play
So far this season, 62% of Brighton's home games and 67% of Sheffield United's away games have produced at least three goals but the vast majority have been scored by the opposition so odds-on for Under in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market probably makes sense.
It's a similar story in the Both Teams to Score market with both sides finding the net in 83% of Brighton's home games this season and in half of Sheffield United's away matches and that's where the value lies in this game.
Although only 17th in the Premier League, Brighton rank 10th for expected goals so they do create plenty of chances and against Sheffield United, they should be able to take at least one. The Blades are the only team in the Premier League to have conceded in every game.
Wilder's men are hardly prolific but they did manage to notch a couple against Manchester United on Thursday night and given how bad their plight is, and that they showed more fight against the Red Devils than they did against the Saints last weekend, I expect them to come out all guns blazing and Yes in the Both Teams to Score market looks the way to go.
Dunk the man for the Same Game Multi-bet
Brighton had nine shots against Fulham in the 0-0 draw in midweek and five of them came from centre back, Lewis Dunk, so he's clearly in the mood to get on the scoresheet. Backing him to score at any time and both teams to score pays 16.94.