Southampton v Sheff Utd: Blades can keep it tight

Southampton v Sheff Utd
Sunday 13 December, 12:00
Live on Sky Sports

European challenge

This match is a role reversal from this time last season when Southampton were struggling in 18th place and Sheffield United were flying high in eighth.

Now it is the Saints who are challenging for a European place, sitting in fifth after winning 2-1 at Brighton on Monday night in the latest round of matches.

Danny Ings returned from injury to score the winner against Brighton, coming off the bench at half-time, and looks set to resume his blossoming partnership with Che Adams from the start.

Nathan Redmond also made a substitute appearance on Monday night after a month out, putting him in competition with Theo Walcott, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Djenepo in the wide attacking positions. One of the quartet will miss out.

Losses piling up

United’s fall from grace has been spectacular. Having finished ninth on their return to the Premier League last season, they are now languishing in bottom place with a solitary point from their first 11 matches.

This season’s 10 losses is already close to the dozen they had in the whole of the last campaign.

Oli McBurnie scored his first goal of the season in last week’s 2-1 home defeat by Leicester and is favourite to lead the line again, possibly with David McGoldrick. The other options up front are Rhian Brewster, Oli Burke and Billy Sharp.

Ethan Ampadu, Enda Stevens and Lys Mousset remain doubtful for Chris Wilder’s side.

Southampton’s only defeat in their last nine Premier League games was the 3-2 reverse at home to Manchester United a fortnight ago when they surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead to one of United’s comebacks.

Before that, 2-0 was becoming a regular scoreline at St Mary’s with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side having won three in a row at home in that fashion against West Brom, Everton and Newcastle.

Those results had solidified their home record, which has mostly been shakier than their away form under Hasenhuttl. In truth, they still look a better proposition on the road.

United are not conceding heavily – only Chelsea have scored more than twice against them, in a 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge – and their big problem is a lack of goalscoring threat.

The Blades’ attack has been blunt, with just five goals scored in 11 matches, and two of those have come from the penalty spot.

There is a sense that the tide will turn at some point given the narrow margins in their matches – eight out of 11 going against them by a single goal – but it is a leap of faith to back them.

When they do win, however, their odds are going to be big. On Sunday they are 5.49/2 for the win.

The match result is a tricky call, given that Southampton are not high scorers at home and United could keep it close again.

The Saints do not look banker material at 1.768/11 and it is not outrageous to take a flyer on United.

A Same Game Multi with Betfair Sportsbook on the away win and ‘no’ for a goal to be scored in both halves pays just over 8/1.

United rank towards the top for matches with under 2.5 goals, having had seven out of 11 (64%). Three of the four exceptions came against Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester, who all rank in the top five scorers in the Premier League.

Southampton are also one of the top five scoring teams but their only home games with over 2.5 goals have been when blasted away by Tottenham (5-2) and Manchester United (3-2).

The Blades look highly unlikely to do that, which makes a low-scoring game probable here.

The recommended bet is under 2.5 goals at 1.910/11.

Opta Stat

Sheffield United have lost 13 of their last 14 Premier League games (D1), scoring just six goals in this run. No side has scored fewer goals than the Blades this season (5). Southampton are 2.727/4 to win to nil.

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