Sheffield United v Chelsea
Saturday July 11, 17:30
Sheffield United eying Europe
John Egan scored with a dramatic 93rd-minute header to give Europe-chasing Sheffield United a 1-0 victory over Wolves at Bramall Lane. The Blades, who began the season as joint-favourites for relegation, have never qualified for a major continental competition, have moved to with a solitary point of their opponents and within reach of the top-six.
Chris Wilder's side looked to be fading as they failed to score and picked up only one point from three consecutive away games when the Premier League resumed. However, Sheff Utd have since turned over Spurs and Wolves, as well as holding in-form Burnley to recapture their early season form. On Wednesday, the Blades faced a solitary on-target attempt.
Speaking post-match, Wilder said: "I really enjoyed watching my team. Right the way through, it was a great effort. We were stretched in terms of numbers, but it was a committed performance and one that, ability wise, had the hallmarks of a proper Sheffield United display." David McGoldrick may return on Saturday but John Fleck remains absent.
Chelsea entertain on their travels
Chelsea further strengthened their position in the Premier League's top-four with a 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace in an entertaining encounter at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night. Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham were all on-target for the Blues as Frank Lampard's charges look to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
Chelsea suffered a notable blip when they were beaten at West Ham but bounced back in style here. Their midweek performance once again showcased the attacking flair Lampard has at his disposal, especially in Willian, who now has a couple of assists to go with the four goals he has scored since the restart, and Pulisic, who scored his third post-lockdown goal.
However, there remains a fragility at the back which Lampard addressed post-match, saying: "For the chances we create we don't score enough goals. It changes the face of a game when you have chances and don't take them and nerves kick in. And you can't feel secure in football matches if you keep giving goals away. We still have to learn from moments in our game and be better."
Blades underrated at Bramall Lane
You have to go right the way back to 1993 for the last time Sheffield United earned top honours against Chelsea (W0-D1-L3 head-to-head since). Nevertheless, the Blades did pick up a well-deserved 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this season with Chris Wilder's charges battling back from a two-goal deficit at half-time to earn a share of the spoils.
Sheff Utd 6.806/1 boast an excellent 61% Expected Goals (xG) ratio at Bramall Lane and have returned W13-D12-L5 when taking on teams outside of the runaway top-two in the Premier League this term. Considering West Ham went off at 7.20 when hosting Chelsea, and Aston Villa 7.25 against the same opposition, the Blades appear massively underrated here.
After blowing off-course through mid-winter, Chelsea 1.635/8 look to be back to something closely resembling their fine early season form. The Blues have bagged W17-D4-L6 when excluding the top-five under Frank Lampard, including an excellent W9-D2-L3 on their travels, and sit amongst the top three for all the major performance data metrics.
Both teams can oblige
Sheffield United's home fixtures have featured just 5/16 (29%) winning Over 2.5 Goals selections, although Saturday's showdown has the potential for goals with Chelsea in action. The Blues have recorded a solitary shutout on the road, leaking twice or more on 10 occasions when playing away in the Premier League during Frank Lampard's rein.
With Sheff Utd notching in 13 of their 17 Bramall Lane outings, plus Chelsea rewarding Both Teams To Score 2.0811/10 backers in 14 of their 18 road trips, supporting BTTS at an odds-against quote has to be considered our main play on Saturday.