Despite a shocking collapse at Bournemouth, Leicester City are still in the mix for Champions League qualification, and Kevin Hatchard expects goals as they face Sheffield United.
"Leicester have lost a defensive regular to suspension, and Sheffield United have scored in the majority of their away games this term."
Leicester City v Bournemouth
Thursday 16 July, 18:00
Live on Sky Sports Arena
Pressure starting to tell as Foxes lose ground
It's rare to see the softly-spoken Brendan Rodgers seethe, but he was clearly infuriated by his side's collapse in the weekend's barely explicable 4-1 hammering at Bournemouth. He derided the performance as being "nowhere near Champions League level" as his side collapsed at the Vitality Stadium, having led 1-0 for the first 65 minutes. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel's dreadful clearance led to the concession of a penalty which made it 1-1, and then there was an extraordinary loss of discipline. Caglar Soyuncu was sent off for retaliation, and basic defensive principles were abandoned.
Leicester can still qualify for the Champions League, and if they win all of their remaining games, a top-four spot is guaranteed. However, their form in 2020 suggests such a run is unlikely. Rodgers' men have won just four times in the league since the turn of the year, and they have collected 17 points from the last 15 games. From a near sure thing - backed at [1.1] to end the season in the league's leading quartet - the Foxes are now [2.8] and well behind Chelsea and Manchester United in the top four betting.
Leicester's home form has become patchy too. They have won just three of their last nine top-division matches at the King Power, and they haven't won back-to-back home matches since December.
Soyuncu is suspended after his indiscretion on the south coast, and there are doubts over James Maddison and Ben Chilwell. Influential right back Ricardo Pereira, who has been sorely missed, is still sidelined.
Brilliant Blades keep smashing their ceiling
It would have been very easy for Sheffield United to switch off after sealing their primary goal of survival, but popular manager Chris Wilder has continued to crack the whip. Even when it seemed the season suspension had got to them (they took just a point from their first three games after the restart) they managed to steel themselves and recover.
The Blades sliced and diced Chelsea in a 3-0 home win in their last league game, and they have claimed ten points from their last four matches, giving them a genuine chance of qualifying for the Europa League. However, it must be pointed out that most of this good work has been done on home soil - while Wilder's men have won four PL matches in a row at Bramall Lane, they haven't won on the road since February. Only one of their four away wins has been against a top-half side, and they are yet to score multiple goals in a Premier League away game in 2020.
Wilder could name an unchanged line-up from the win over Chelsea, although John Lundstram is pushing for a return after recovering from injury.
Hosts are too short to take the win
Leicester are [2.12] to win here, and given their loss of form in 2020 and the immense pressure on their shoulders, that price seems a bit skinny.
You could back Draw and Away on the Double Chance market at [1.88] - the Blades have only lost four away games all season, although it's worth noting that all of those losses have come in the last eight road matches.
Both defences to be breached
Both Teams To Score is trading at [1.98] here, and that appeals. The Blades have scored in 11 of their 17 away matches this term, while Leicester have found the net in 13 of their 17 home matches.
With Soyuncu suspended, Leicester are missing one of their defensive regulars, and United's front two are full of confidence. Oli McBurnie and David McGoldrick scored all three goals between them in the demolition of Chelsea.
It's also worth considering that the reverse fixture was a lively 2-1 win for the Foxes.
Vardy to smite his old foes
It took a while, but Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is finally back in business. He has smacked in four goals in his last three games, and has scored old-fashioned poacher's goals against Arsenal and Bournemouth. He has extra motivation on Thursday evening, as he is a die-hard Sheffield Wednesday fan. Vardy is an attractive [2.34] to find the net, and it's also worth noting he is still chasing the Golden Boot. He has 23 league goals, and could become the oldest winner of the accolade at the age of 33.
For United, McBurnie is trading at [3.65], while McGoldrick is [3.95].
Kevin Hatchard 2019-20 English Football P/L
Points Staked: 54
Points Returned: 34.72
P/L: -19.28 points
2016-19 Premier League P/L: +11.57 points
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Back Both Teams To Score at [1.98]
Back Jamie Vardy to score at [2.34]