Crystal Palace v Sheffield United: Blades to have the edge again
United won the reverse fixture 1-0 and Andrew Atherley fancies them again at Selhurst Park on Saturday...
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United Saturday 1 February, 15:00
Milivojevic back from suspension
Palace will be more rested than their opponents, having had an 11-day break since their latest Premier League match while United played in the FA Cup.
Palace lost that league match 2-0 at home to Southampton and as a result fell just outside the top half on goal difference. They are now 11th on 30 points, one of five teams on that tally from Arsenal in 10th to Newcastle in 14th.
It will be a concern for Roy Hodgson that his team have not won since Boxing Day (2-1 at home to West Ham), although the Southampton match is their only defeat in five league games since then.
Club captain Luka Milivojevic is available again after a three-match suspension and that gives Hodgson the option of solidifying the midfield with a 3-5-2 or going with a 3-4-3.
He has limited room for manoeuvre at the back with Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp still on the injury list. Striker Cenk Tosun, on loan from Everton, is also out, although Christian Benteke might be available again.
United march on
Sheffield United's excellent season shows no sign of waning and last week's 2-0 FA Cup win at Millwall took them to a fifth-round tie away to another Championship club (Reading or Cardiff).
Chris Wilder's side sit eighth in the Premier League table on 33 points, three ahead of Palace and just one point behind fifth-placed Manchester United.
On Thursday the Blades broke their transfer record to sign Norway midfielder Sander Berge from Genk. The 21-year-old could play a part here.
John Lundstram is in contention for a recall to the starting midfield instead of Mo Besic, who scored the opening goal in the cup win at Millwall.
David McGoldrick, the much-appreciated but non-scoring striker, has missed the last two league games with a knock but could return in place of Lys Mousset.
Blades look sharper
There has not been much between these sides all season and that was reflected in the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane in August when Lundstram's 47th-minute goal gave United a 1-0 win in a tight match.
That was a typical low scorer for both teams, who rank as the top two for games with under 2.5 goals. United are on 79% in that category and Palace on 71%.
Palace have had four defeats at home this season and the first three were against top sides Liverpool, Manchester City and Liverpool, while the latest was against in-form Southampton.
The Saints might offer the template for United to follow but their win rate is low on the road (three out of 12, 25%), although their defeat rate is even lower (17%).
Palace have a fairly low home win rate too (33%) and they are the lowest home scorers with just 10 goals from 12 games. The wins were all against teams currently in the bottom five and they have scored just four goals in eight games against sides above that group, which makes them hard to fancy for the win.
United have scored in nine of their 12 away games (two of the failures were at Liverpool and Manchester City) and that record has to give them a decent chance here. Their record when scoring on the road is W3 D6 L0.
Given the low-scoring stats, the best bet is United on the draw no bet at1.81.
Not the teams for goals
Palace are highest for games with under 2.5 goals at home (83%) and United are likewise away (also 83%), making a low-scoring match the obvious call.
At1.52 this is rated the Premier League match most likely to have under 2.5 goals this weekend.
Anyone looking at a win bet has to consider the win to nil, which for match favourites United is available at3.70.
Crystal Palace have kept a clean sheet in their last four Premier League home games against promoted sides (W3 D1), winning each of the last three in a row. Palace are4.60 to win to nil.