The highlight of the 6pm kick-offs on Wednesday brings us the televised Sky game featuring top 4 hopefuls (ish) Man United and Sheffield United. Both sides will need some favours from those immediately above them – Chelsea and Leicester – or indeed the Court of Arbitration for Sport, if they are to keep alive their hopes of Champions League football next season.
MORE TIPS: Our treble for tonight’s other 6pm kick-offs
It still seems somewhat surreal saying that about Sheffield United, though their chances have been hit with some reality checks since the return to action, albeit somewhat controversially. Both sides have lost ground on Chelsea who turned things around impressively at Villa on Sunday, so both will be very keen to apply some pressure with a win here, while also hoping Brighton can get a result at Leicester on Tuesday.
I thought Man United were pretty good at Spurs. The main talking point was, of course, the David De Gea howler, a crime fit for some roughly imposed justice and abandonment in the eyes of Roy Keane. We’ve seen this before but not just from De Gea so no need to harp on about it here – it happens.
I thought United’s response was excellent thereafter, led brilliantly by the highly influential Bruno Fernandes, and the introduction of Paul Pogba, winner of Fernandes’ converted penalty, around the hour mark. Surely Solskjaer must include both form the outset tomorrow evening so we can witness just what these two might be capable of in tandem.
Sheffield United have had a disappointing restart with the hugely controversial Villa game severely denting their European ambitions as well as a hammering to their confidence. Luckily our punters received a justice refund on Sheffield United so there was some justice served somewhere at least!
The less said about Sunday the better from a Sheffield United point of view, as they capitulated following John Egan’s sending off. They were the second-best team up to that point anyway, which is possibly the first time all season we’ve said Newcastle were the better team against anyone!
The break was always going to be tougher on a team who were riding sky high up until that point and while two games is too early to suggest the wheels have fallen off, I don’t see Sheffield United finishing the league higher than they currently are.
Having played the last 40 minutes of Sunday’s game with 10 men, coupled with United having two extra days rest from their Friday night exploits, I think it could be a very long evening for Sheffield United if the home side fancy this at all. A full strength, fully-tuned up Man United are a very good side. This is very much reflected in the odds for the home side to get the job done, which is fine for throwing into a potential 18.00 cross-match acca, but we can dig out a couple of better priced bets within the game itself, including a Same Game Multi or two.
I tipped this same selection up in the City v Arsenal game and it crept in thanks to Raheem Sterling’s goal right on half-time and I think it’s a great value bet again.
Should Man Utd line up as strong as I expect them, and De Gea remembers his number one job, I expect them to come out firing and an early goal will surely destroy Sheffield United’s confidence even more, allowing the home side to dominate and kick on. Strong recommendation this one at the price.
Another strong fancy. Fernandes really is the real deal, and given he’s on every set piece there is, you’ll get a run for him to score in every game. Fleck has been booked 7 times this season and looked pretty leg weary on Sunday having missed the Villa game though injury.
I think they’ll have no choice to start him and given the pressure they’ll be under from the get go, there’s definitely value there assuming he will be making his fair share of attempted tackles on more tired than usual legs. Fleck conceding a penalty and being booked with Fernandes converting it is the dream scenario here!
While it isn’t a huge price, I don’t fancy Sheffield United to score at all here (despite their league fixture finishing 3-3 in December). This is an entirely different scenario, and I think Man United are solid enough defensively as well as being dominant in possession here to limit Sheffield United’s chances greatly.
Man United have won by one of these scorelines in 4 of their last 9 matches in all competitions and to me it represents better value than backing say Man United to win and both teams not to score which is just an even money shot – I think they’ll score more than once and Sheffield United haven’t conceded more than 4 all season so this for me is the smart choice.