Chelsea vs. Sheffield United Analysis & Predictions 7/11/20
Chelsea (18-10-6, 60 points, 3rd place) vs. Sheffield United (13-9-12, 51 points, 9th place)
When: Saturday, July 11, 12:30 p.m.
Where: Bramall Lane, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Point Spread: Chelsea -1/Sheffield +1
Moneyline: Chelsea -162/Sheffield +500/Draw +275
Total: Over 2.5 (-115)/Under 2.5 (-115)
Last Time Out:
Chelsea edged Crystal Palace 3-2; Sheffield United defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0.
Chelsea and Sheffield United drew 2-2 on Aug. 31 at Stamford Bridge.
About the Matchup:
Chelsea’s rise into a guaranteed Champions League position has resulted in them finally catching Leicester City and pulling into third place, putting the Blues in control of their fate if they can see out the final four matches of the season. Given that Chelsea has even bested Manchester City since the restart, it’s hard to argue that anyone except Manchester United is playing better soccer than Frank Lampard’s crew at the moment.
But nobody’s been able to get the better of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane since Jan. 21, and it took Manchester City to do it. The Blades have made their home ground a true fortress, and Chelsea hasn’t been the same team on the road. Can Sheffield continue its run of form and make a charge toward locking up a Europa League spot in its first season in the Premier League?
The Chelsea attack has just been on another level since the restart. Lampard seems to have finally discovered Christian Pulisic, and the American has taken advantage of his chance, scoring in three of Chelsea’s five matches since the restart. With Willian and Olivier Giroud still finishing chances and Ross Barkley getting in on the act as of late, there simply is no weak spot in the Chelsea attack right now.
The same cannot be said for the Chelsea defense. In four out of five matches — and all three away from Stamford Bridge — both teams have scored, and Chelsea’s past two road matches have seen a combined five goals. Against Crystal Palace, the Blues seemingly had the game well in hand, only to watch the Eagles pull themselves back to within a goal and create several nervous moments.
It hasn’t mattered who Chelsea has played; the defense has found a way to give up a goal. That’s actually not an exaggeration: Chelsea has given up a goal in 16 out of 17 Premier League road matches this season. The one exception was at Tottenham Hotspur, and that gets an asterisk because Spurs got a red card and had to play 30 minutes down a man. For the last time Chelsea shut out a Premier League opponent on the road without someone sent off, you’ve got to go back to May 12, 2019, when the Blues managed a scoreless draw with Leicester City.
The last time Chelsea won a Premier League match to nil away from Stamford Bridge without the help of a card? December 30, 2018, at Crystal Palace.
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Scouting Sheffield United:
To say the Blades looked rusty was an understatement after the first three matches of the restart, which saw Sheffield get jobbed at Aston Villa and then get undressed by Manchester United and Newcastle in three consecutive road matches. But coming home has made all the difference for the Blades, who have beaten Spurs and Wolves at home since the restart and have won four of their past five at Bramall Lane, with a 1-1 draw with Brighton the only blemish.
The win over Wolves was vintage Sheffield: allow the opponent to dominate possession, but make sure that it’s not quality possession and limit their shot opportunities. Wolves saw most of the ball, but only managed one attack on target in the entire match. Sheffield, meanwhile, got three good attacks and scored on the final one, a winner from John Egan in stoppage time.
It’s the fifth straight home match where Sheffield has scored, and even though the Blades take a lot of heat for being an offensively-challenged side, they’ve been pretty reliable at home. Sheffield has scored in eight of its past nine home matches, and in every one of them, they’ve either won or drawn. Sheffield hasn’t lost a home match in which it scored since August 24, a 2-1 loss to Leicester City.
Dan’s Best Bets:
Vegas is ignoring Chelsea’s middling away form, which makes this an ideal time to take Sheffield on a double chance at +125. The Blades have been brilliant on defense at home, shutting out two opponents and holding three others to one goal each, so the fact that you’re getting plus money here for either a win or draw makes this great value.
If you want to get daring, taking both teams to score and having the match end in a draw is paying +400, which seems outstanding value given that Chelsea can’t keep the ball out of the net on the road. Personally, I don’t see a scoreless draw as a likely prospect, given that Sheffield has been scoring well at home, and Chelsea have struggled so badly on defense. Plus, the last time a match finished 0-0 at Bramall Lane was in the Sheffield Derby against Sheffield Wednesday, and that was in November of 2018. You’ll get +275 to cover any kind of draw, but I think you’re better off playing for a score draw at +400.
If you’re looking for a safe bet and you’re OK with a small amount of juice, I think you’ll get a solid return on both teams to score at -115. Remember, Chelsea has only kept one clean sheet on the road all season, and it needed Tottenham down to 10 to do it. I cannot see the Blues keeping a shutout in this match, given how effective Sheffield United have been at home.
Dan’s Score Prediction:
Sheffield has been poor away from home since the restart, but the Blades look like a top-four side at Bramall Lane, and Chelsea has really struggled away from Stamford Bridge. I don’t know why Sheffield is such a huge underdog in this battle, but I think it creates an abundance of opportunities. I think this match sees both teams hold to form, and that means this should end up as a low-scoring score draw. From my viewpoint, a 1-1 draw at +675 makes a lot of sense.
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