If the Premier League table had started on January 1 Sheffield United would be eighth. Four points off the top four and six above the relegation places.
Chris Wilder’s side have won five of their last seven games in all competitions, as many as they did in their previous 32. Their shock win over Manchester United, followed up with a victory over West Brom two games later, prove that they are, if nothing else, still competitive.
The Blades are just one point behind West Brom at the foot of the table. But even a win against heavy favourites Chelsea would still see them remain eight points off safety.
And I think they’re due a big reality check against Thomas Tuchel’s side, who have started well under their German coach by keeping three straight clean sheets and collecting seven points from a possible nine. Though only 1-0, the dominance they showed in victory at Spurs on Thursday was impressive.
Chelsea don’t lose to teams who are bottom of the Premier League. In fact, they’ve won 10 out of their last 12 games against sides starting 20th. I believe their new boss Tuchel will pick a strong starting XI and go for the jugular.
I really fancy the price jump on Chelsea’s total goals going from over 2.5 at 2/1 to over 3.5 at 6/1. If this game were against a traditional relegation threatened outfit I’d put two points on it. But because the Blades have had under 3.5 goals in more than 90% of their fixtures since August, it’s probably a market to avoid.
Instead, I’m very tempted by Sporting Index offering 14/5 on Chelsea to win both halves.
In four of Chelsea’s last five games against the sides currently making up the league’s bottom five, that bet has landed – including the Blues’ win against the Blades at Stamford Bridge earlier this term.
The one exception was not leading Fulham at half-time in their 1-0 win last month, a 45 minutes which they dominated from the first whistle to the last.
And if you’re banking on that punt you might as well back Chelsea in the winning margins market too. They’ll need to be at least two clear to win both halves, that exact margin is 7/2 with Sky Bet.
If you’re happy to go one further, the Blues to win by three or more goals is 4/1 with the same firm. But again, the Blades’ defence has me sticking with the lower margin.
Taking a look at first goalscorers and there are some great odds on Chelsea’s forwards to nab the game’s first. I particularly like the look of Tammy Abrham (19/5) and Timo Werner (5/1). But if you’re after big odds to throw your loose change at, why not stick something on defender Thiago Silva as an 11/1 anytime scorer with bet365 – a price almost twice what most bookies are willing to offer.
Only Leeds have conceded more goals from set-pieces than Sheffield United’s 10 this season.
And the Brazil captain already has two headed goals since moving to Chelsea, including one in the reverse fixture between these two sides.
Score prediction: Sheff Utd 0-2 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)