The battle for the European places in the Premier League rages on and with just a few matches remaining to play in the season the waters are still muddy with plenty still on the table to play for.
Saturday’s feature match sees Sheffield United host Chelsea at Bramall Lane and both teams hold aspirations of European soccer next season.
For the visitors they will be looking to consolidate their third-place position and a Champions League spot, but with Leicester and Manchester United breathing down their neck the Londoners can’t afford a slip-up. Meanwhile the home side are just one point behind Wolves in seventh place and will be looking to overhaul the West Midlands side in the race for the final Europa League place having closed the gap on Wolves with a last-gasp victory in midweek.
CLOSE MATCH ON THE CARDS
Sheffield United’s home form has been impressive with eleven wins in their last 20 matches at Bramall Lane which includes four of their last six games and they’ve scored 26 goals over the 20 game stretch with just 15 conceded. Eight of those strikes have come in their last six matches and they’ve conceded just three in that recent stretch.
Chelsea meanwhile have won nine of their last 20 games on the road, winning two of their three which includes a hard-fought 3-2 win over Crystal Palace in midweek. The visitors have no problem scoring goals on the road, notching up 37 strikes on their travels but they also struggle to keep their rivals in check and have shipped 33 goals over the same period and the Londoners have lost at least two goals in four of their last six matches.
BOTH TEAMS LIKELY TO STRIKE
15 of Chelsea’s last 20 away matches has seen both sides finding the net, and while the home side have restricted the opposition scoring at Bramall Lane to just seven times over the same period there’s high expectation of both teams finding the net in this match.
Chelsea haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road since last December; while Sheffield United last failed to net at home in January against Manchester City.
There’s likely to be goals in the game, with the home side having averaged just over one goal per game at Bramall Lane while the overall score has averaged a shade over two goals per game. Chelsea meanwhile have scored just under two goals per game although they concede a similar amount on the road; while their last 20 league matches have averaged 3.5 goals per game.
HONORS EVEN LAST TIME
The last time these two teams met at Stamford Bridge they shared the spoils with a 2-2 draw and while Chelsea’s free-scoring attack will pose a formidable threat once again, Frank Lampard’s side come up against a stubborn home rear-guard which has the joint-fourth lowest concession rate in the league.
The home side can’t match the visitors for goals scored – Chelsea’s overall goals tally is almost double that of United’s – but conversely the home side’s defense has conceded 13 less goals this campaign and will prove a tough nut to crack as they bid to enter the Europa League places.
SATURDAY SOCCER TIPS BIG MATCH VERDICT
This is likely to be a close fought affair with both teams looking to consolidate their respective positions in the hunt for European soccer. Chelsea are well capable of scoring away from home, but the stubborn Sheffield United defense will prove tough to breach for the Londoners.
At the other end, the home side don’t find the net often enough although Chelsea’s rearguard is not as robust as their own and the visitors struggle to prevent the home side from scoring.
This match has all the hallmarks of an honors-shared event with both teams likely to find the net.
BET 1: Sheffield United v Chelsea DRAW, both teams to score YES @ +450 (Bet365)
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