The Premier League returns from the FA Cup break on Friday night and it does so with a big match for West Ham United, as they look to pull themselves away from danger towards the wrong end of the table, when they travel north to face Sheffield United.
The Blades have been a revelation so far this season but they are just hitting a bit of a wall at the minute, so they’ll be keen to pick up the win here and recalibrate themselves in the form they have shown thus far.
When the season began, Sheffield United were the favourites to be relegated but you’ll get a much bigger price on that occurrence taking place now after a wonderful beginning to their campaign. They go into this match without a win in their last three matches, but before people start writing them off it should be pointed out that their last two league fixtures were away to Liverpool and Manchester City, and not many sides come away from those with many points.
The Blades have won more than they have lost through 21 matches this season and that feat should not be underestimated, even in a division which is as wide open as this one has been outside of Liverpool. Their matches haven’t always been high scoring but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t goals in the Blades. They might well need one or two of them here, against a side who are capable of threatening themselves.
West Ham United
The Hammers will be looking to forget the first half of their season, so bad it became. It was so poor that they were left with no choice but to get rid of Manuel Pellegrini, even though the Chilean had a wretched injury list to deal with, one which clearly hampered him, especially when it came to the goalkeeper department. They have got the new bounce they wanted under David Moyes though, and Lukasz Fabianski is back, so things are beginning to look up.
They do need a standout result though because with no disrespect, Bournemouth were there for the taking in Moyes’ first game back in charge and Gillingham should never have been good enough to trouble them. A win here would send out the right sort of marker for the remainder of the season. Even under Pellegrini, the Hammers weren’t too bad on the road but they are averaging less than a goal a game on their travels and that will probably need to change.
Chris Wilder took the wise choice to rest all of his starters last week and they are all set to return. Billy Sharp has been given the option to leave the club if he wants to, which suggests he may not be in from the start.
David Moyes is missing some big players for this match. Jack Wilshere, Andriy Shevchenko and Michail Antonio were already injured and Ryan Fredericks has joined them. Aaron Cresswell and Mark Noble could be available.
I think we are in for a low scoring match here. I expect West Ham to get back to being pretty tight at the back now that Lukasz Fabianski is back between the sticks and that has certainly been the case over the last couple of games, where they have kept clean sheets in both outings. I’m not yet convinced that Moyes will have had enough time to get the right tune out of his attacking players to be free scoring on the road though.
We know what we’re going to get from Sheffield United. They are a side who win a lot of tight matches. If there is a worry about the Blades then it comes in the potential lack of an out and out goalscorer and as a result they don’t score too many goals. This just does not stand out to me as a match that is going to be open in any shape or form. Both will be delighted to win ugly if it comes to that. I’m happy to be on under 2.5 goals here.
WON – Back Under 2.5 goals for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with BetVictor