Simon Mail previews Monday's game at Bramall Lane and thinks Sheffield United can complete the double over Everton...
"Sheffield United have won ten home games this season including their last four in the competition and defeated Everton away back in September."
Sheffield United v Everton
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Wilder deserves huge credit for brilliant season
It has been a sensational season for Sheffield United with Chris Wilder's side competing in the top half of the Premier League for the whole campaign. Promoted from the Championship, the Blades have made a mockery of their pre-season relegation odds by threatening to qualify for the Europa League. But Sheffield United have been exceptional, claiming 14 victories, and Wilder has enhanced his growing reputation as one of the best managers in the country.
Sheffield United have been supremely competitive, losing only one game more than Manchester City, with their record at Bramall Lane commanding respect. The Blades have beaten Arsenal and Tottenham and in their last home game eased to a 3-0 victory over Chelsea. Their collective strength as a team is arguably their biggest asset and opponents have found them very difficult to crack. Wilder's side were beaten on Thursday, losing 2-0 at top-four contenders Leicester.
Everton tailing off under Ancelotti
Everton have underachieved again this season and the initial spark following Carlo Ancelotti's arrival appears to have subsided. The three-times Champions League winning manager was lured to the club to replace Marco Silva in December and successfully helped Everton climb away from the relegation zone. But the Toffees' season has petered out in mid-table with laboured recent performances suggesting the players have lost their focus.
Ancelotti has certainly improved their home record with the team unbeaten at Goodison Park since November. But Everton have been poor away from home, losing 1-0 at Tottenham and 3-0 at Wolves in recent weeks. The Toffees were arguably fortunate to snatch a 1-1 draw at home to second bottom Aston Villa on Thursday, with substitute Theo Walcott scoring a late equaliser.
Hosts worthy favourites in win market
Sheffield United are [2.26] favourites for this match and the hosts deserve this status based on their form this season. The Blades have won ten home games this season including their last four in the competition. Wilder's side also claimed a 2-0 victory at Everton in September and it would be no surprise if they completed the double over them in their final home match.
Everton are [3.75] to claim a victory but this price does not appeal considering their recent efforts. Ancelotti's side were dire in their defeat at Wolves and have gone four games without a win. Everton have only won four matches away this season and this difficult trip does not look a great chance to add to this modest return.
The draw is trading at [3.35] and has its merits with Sheffield United held 12 times this season. Everton have drawn ten games although only three were on the road. Most of the Blades' draws have also been away with just three coming in Yorkshire. On balance, Sheffield United's excellent home form and greater intensity should pay off and the hosts are worth backing to defeat an Everton side that look desperate for the season to end.
Blades to shut out opponents
Sheffield United's success this season has been based on their defensive solidity, backed up by impressive goalkeeper Dean Henderson, with only champions Liverpool conceding fewer goals. The Blades have won 11 of their matches with a clean sheet and this bet stands out at 23/10. With Sheffield United being tough to break down, a low-scoring win to nil looks likely.
Wilder's side are the lowest scoring team in the top half and it probably explains why under 2.5 goals is trading at just [1.69]. Three of their last four games have seen no more than two goals scored. Everton have hardly been prolific in front of goal either but the Toffees have conceded 35 goals away from home - as many as Sheffield United have in all their league games. Everton's unconvincing defence is enough to suggest backing under three goals is too short a price.
Sheffield United have conceded just one goal in their last four Premier League games at Bramall Lane, with clean sheets in each of their last two. The Blades are 11/8 to shut out Everton.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
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P/L 2019-20 season