Sheffield United vs Chelsea - Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks
- Sheffield United has rediscovered its steel after a disappointing restart
- Chelsea’s victory over Crystal Palace left it with as many questions as answers
- Chris Wilder’s side could take advantage of the Blues’ defensive openness
|What||Sheffield United vs Chelsea|
|Where||Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England|
|When||Saturday, 11 July 2020, 12.30 PM EST|
|How to watch||NBC Sports|
Seldom has a sporting verdict been so eagerly anticipated by a host of different clubs. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will announce next week whether it has upheld, reduced or wiped out Manchester City’s two-season ban from European competition, a punishment handed down to it by UEFA for breaching the organization’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
The decision will have implications far beyond the Etihad Stadium. If City is successful, the entire premise of Financial Fair Play will be called into question. On the other hand, UEFA will feel vindicated if the ban remains in place, with a one-year reduction representing something in the middle.
More immediately, the ruling will have consequences for the remainder of the Premier League season. If City is indeed prohibited from taking part in the Champions League next term, its top-four finish will be redundant. The side which ends the campaign in fifth spot will take its place at Europe’s top table, while the eighth-place finisher will advance to the Europa League alongside sixth and seventh.
For that reason, both Sheffield United (seventh) and Chelsea (third) will hope that the Switzerland-based court rules in UEFA’s favour. If it does, the Blues are virtually guaranteed a Champions League spot, but for now it is too early to celebrate qualification given its patchy performances in recent weeks. Sheffield United, meanwhile, would see its chances of reaching the Europa League receive a major boost if a top-seven finish is all that is required.
Sheffield United vs Chelsea Odds
Odds taken from DraftKings
At first glance, Chelsea’s form appears to be good. It has won four of its five games since the restart, and was unbeaten in three outings prior to the hiatus. Yet results do not always tell the full story, and Chelsea has looked vulnerable on more than one occasion.
Sheffield United’s recent displays have been much stronger, and after beating Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane last week it will hope to take another scalp on its own patch. It could be worth a punt on it doing exactly that.
Lampard Left With Problems to Solve After Victory Over Palace
Chelsea was 2-0 up and cruising after half an hour of its clash with Crystal Palace on Tuesday. It was a little fortunate to take the lead through Olivier Giroud early on after Gary Cahill pulled up injured in the build-up, but its attacking quality had been clear for all to see in the opening 30 minutes.
Then, Chelsea was suddenly caught cold on the counter-attack and found its lead halved thanks to a brilliant strike from Wilfried Zaha. Palace controlled most of the match from that point onwards, creating chances and continually exposing the space in between Chelsea’s defense and midfield. The Blues’ superior attacking talent ultimately won the day, but Palace was unfortunate not to pick up a point, and Chelsea could not relax until the final whistle – as evidenced by Scott Dann hitting the post deep into stoppage time.
Chelsea had conceded three times in its previous away game to West Ham United, and its organization and discipline without the ball has duly been called into question. Sheffield United is a better team than both West Ham and Palace, and will be poised to exploit that weakness on Saturday.
Sheffield United Rediscovers Its Resolve to Continue European Push
Sheffield United was second-best on its return to action against Aston Villa last month. A 0-0 draw there was followed by back-to-back 3-0 defeats by Newcastle United and Manchester United, a string of results that put paid to its chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
But Chris Wilder’s charges have rallied since then and Wednesday’s last-gasp victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers made it seven points from the last nine available. United has become difficult to play against again, rediscovering the defensive fortitude that means, despite those six goals shipped against Newcastle and Manchester United, it still has the third-best defensive record in the division.
United will attempt to keep a solid shape to keep Chelsea out at one end, before landing a sucker punch on the counter-attack or from a set-piece. It is a game plan that could bear fruit given Chelsea’s structural deficiencies.
Chelsea Could Come Unstuck Unless It Improves Its Off-The-Ball Shape
Qualifying for the Champions League would represent a good achievement by Lampard in his first season as a Premier League manager. But if Chelsea wants to challenge for the title next term, it must improve its defensive setup.
Contrary to popular belief, that does not simply mean paying large sums for individual center-backs. That, of course, would help if the players in question are an upgrade on those currently available to Lampard, but it would be more efficient to undertake substantial training-ground work on the team’s shape out of possession. Unless it improves in that area, Chelsea will not be able to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City at the top.
Back Sheffield United to cause an upset here – Chelsea is understandably the favorite but its defensive slackness could be punished by the Blades.