Sheffield United v Manchester City
Saturday October 31, 12:30
Second season syndrome?
It’s been a really poor start for Sheffield United. A case of second season syndrome if ever I’ve seen one. Very often when that happens, it’s a case of the team doing exactly what they’ve always done but teams start to work them out. It’s also true to say that so far Aaron Ramsdale hasn’t played to the same standard as his predecessor in goal, Dean Henderson. Goes to show why United were so desperate to keep him on for another year but he went back to Old Trafford.
There was further bad news this week when it was reported that hard-man goalscoring midfielder John Lundstram doesn’t want to sign a new deal. Seems he’s holding out for a free transfer where he can pick up bigger wages. They’ve already said they’re happy to sell him in January rather than him leaving for nothing but presumably they’ll carry on playing him in the meanwhile.
They could do with the pace of Lys Mousset upfront, but he’s still injured.
Dias bedding in well
It’s a good thing that the other top teams have struggled so far because Manchester City have started the season poorly.
Part of the problem is self-inflicted. Not a single season goes by where Sergio Aguero doesn’t get injured at some stage and his understudy Gabriel Jesus rarely fills the void to the same standard and…is injured himself anyway. So why didn’t they buy another striker? They now have an excess of wide forwards but are having to turn to Raheem Sterling to play as the central striker.
Ruben Dias has started well though and his strength and positioning has made them look tighter and more organised. Once he develops an understanding with Aymeric Laporte, they could form one of the very best central defensive partnerships in European football.
City may well go on to win this game but that 1/31.33 is a poor price. Yes, every historical stat will probably tell you that they’ve had United’s number over the years. Stats such as the one that they haven’t beaten them in any of their last six (D2, L4) or that they’ve never beaten them in eight attempts in the Premier League. Stats from Opta.
But that’s somewhat missing the point. City are without their two main strikers, are fresh from a midweek trip to France and have won just one of their last four matches in the league, a 1-0 win at home to Arsenal.
It may also be the case that United are a good match-up for City. Pep Guardiola’s men don’t enjoy playing sides who are tight at the back and don’t let City hit them on the break. It could be a frustrating afternoon for them and will certainly be a good physical test.
But rather than lay City at that price, I’ll go with the Blades to either avoid defeat or lose the game narrowly. Backing United +1.5 at 21/202.04 means you have the home win, the draw and the defeat by a single goal on your side and that will do me just fine.
Without wanting to go on about it too much, City are for my money unlikely to score too many because of Aguero and Jesus’ absences. Not only is Sterling not as effective as Aguero in particular but the fact he has to play there means they’re deprived of his skills in his best position on the left.
United don’t score many anyway and City may be a bit tired. There’s also the fact that none of City’s last three have gone over 2.5 goals. I’d definitely be in the ‘unders’ camp at 8/52.58 if I were to play this market.
I said I didn’t think it was going to be a particularly high-scoring game but I’ll take the safety blanket of going with under 3.5 goals (13/20) rather than under 2.5 goals, as the first part of a same-game multi.
City managed six, 10 and 10 corners in their three away games so far and throughout the whole of last season, managed seven or more corners in 58% of their away matches. It’s 6/10 they get over 6.5 corners on the away total corners market and that completes the double, which comes to 2.47.