West Brom v Sheffield United
Saturday November 28, 20:00
West Brom frustrated at Old Trafford
A twice-taken second-half penalty proved decisive as battling West Brom went down to a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United in their most recent Premier League outing. Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made a string of superb stops to deny his old club, including a splendid save from the initial Bruno Fernandes spot kick, only for VAR to intervene.
Unfortunately for Slaven Bilic‘s boys, Fernandes made no mistake with his second attempt to leave Albion winless after nine matches since promotion back to the top-flight. It was harsh on the visitors, who were awarded a penalty themselves a minute after the restart when Conor Gallagher was caught, only for the decision to be overturned on review.
West Brom without captain Jake Livermore but Romaine Sawyers impressed in his absence, whilst defender Kieran Gibbs was also unavailable following a positive coronavirus test. Aside from irritation at the penalty decisions, Bilic felt his team produced a solid display, saying: “We were unlucky. If we continue to play like this – and better – we will have a chance in every game.”
Sheffield United remain rock-bottom
A superb Sebastian Haller strike consigned winless Sheffield United to another Premier League defeat last Sunday. The Blades started brightly and created several early openings before fading as an attacking force as they fell to an eighth league loss in nine outings this term, a desperately disappointing return that’s left Chris Wilder‘s men rock-bottom.
United did rally after falling behind before the hour mark; Oli McBurnie saw a left-foot effort cannon back off the crossbar, but the Blades are still yet to score in open play at Bramall Lane this season and Wilder admitted, “We have earned the right to be here and have to do some things pretty quickly to stay in it and protect our status as a Premier League club.”
Six of the Sheff Utd’s eight defeats this season have been by a margin of one goal and the long-term absence of the injured and influential Jack O’Connell in defence has certainly proved costly for Wilder’s outfit. The visitors should at least have Enda Stevens and Lys Mousset available for selection again ahead of Saturday night’s trip to the Black Country.
This is the first ever Premier League meeting between West Brom and Sheffield United, although the Blades bagged victories in both meetings when the duo last faced-off in the top-flight, way back in 1972/73. The visitors have also taken top honours in there of their most recent five league trips to The Hawthorns (W3-D1-L1) dating back to 2001.
West Brom 2.6813/8 haven’t failed to taste victory in the first 10 league fixtures since 1985 but failure to score in six of their opening nine (W0-D3-L6) has proven problematic. The hosts have met five of the current top-six, including three of the top-four at home, and the hope amongst Baggies fans is, the hosts will find their range against the lesser lights in upcoming games.
Sheffield United 3.002/1 have earned a solitary point from their past 12 Premier League tussles (W0-D1-L11) since July but have also endured a tough schedule so far this season. Nevertheless, the Blades have returned only W1-D3-L10 in their last 14 away days at this level, managing a paltry seven goals in 21 hours of Premier League action on the road.
Coming into this weekend’s games, no team has conceded more Premier League goals this season than West Brom (18), while no side has scored fewer than Sheffield United (4). The Blades are also the only top-flight team without a clean sheet in 2020/21 and facing an Albion outfit that have created fewer big chances than any divisional rival thus far (3).
With so much at stake in an early six-pointer, it’s understandable to expect a low-scoring showdown. Twelve (67%) of the duos 18 league fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals and a repeat is available at 1.664/6. However, I prefer the available on Sheff Utd Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals at a more appealing 1.80 via the Same Game Multi option.
Sheffield United have the biggest negative difference between their Expected Goals (xG) and goals scored this season (8.6 xG, 4 goals), netting nearly five goals fewer than would normally be expected based on the quality of their chances. With that in mind, Chris Wilder’s charges should be well capable of at least taking a share of the spoils on Saturday.