- Sheffield United lost just two of their last 11 Premier League home games.
- Spurs won just one of their last nine away matches in all competitions.
- The Blades held Spurs to a 1-1 draw in North London in November.
- Tottenham drew 50% of their last six Premier League away fixtures.
Sheffield United’s downward trend
After a debut campaign that was filled with so much early promise, Sheffield United’s season is on the verge of collapse after a worryingly poor re-start.
The Blades kicked back into gear with a relatively low-key point at Aston Villa on June 17, though their subsequent back-to-back 3-0 losses to Newcastle and Manchester United respectively were their joint biggest defeats of the season so far.
While a three-game slump couldn’t be described as a major crisis, the Blades poor restart has seen them tumble down to 9th place in the Premier League table, and left them just four points better off than Southampton down in 13th.
With their European qualification hopes already seriously under threat, United lost a valuable alternative route to the continent when they were dumped out of the FA Cup quarter final by Arsenal at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
However, in a congested Premier League mid-section, a win at home to Tottenham on Thursday would launch Sheffield United back into top six contention, and the Blades’ top-flight record as hosts this season suggests they should be able to avoid defeat at the very least.
Spurs end search for a win
Tottenham ended a seven-match wait for a victory last week when they toppled London rivals West Ham 2-0 in the capital on June 23, though they needed a little fortune in the form of a bizarre Toma Soucek own goal after the hour to break the deadlock.
That was the second slice of luck Spurs have enjoyed in as many Premier League games after David de Gea’s gaffe allowed them to take a share of the spoils against Manchester United directly before their Irons’ triumph – though in terms of overall performances, Mourinho’s men remain an unconvincing outfit.
Away from North London, Tottenham’s 3-2 win at relegation favourites Aston Villa on February 16 remains their own victory on the road in nine attempts in all competitions, after what was a favourable sequence of fixtures that included trips to play Norwich, Southampton (twice), Middlesbrough, Watford and Burnley.
However, despite a haul of just four wins from their last 12 Premier League matches overall, 7th placed Spurs could still close to within four points of Wolves in 5th with a successful result in Sheffield this week.
Sheffield United to avoid defeat
However, few teams have managed to blunt the Blades on their own patch this season, and ahead of Thursday’s assignment, United were beaten just twice in 11 Premier League fixtures at Bramall Lane since late September.
Chris Wilder’s men actually lost three of their first four Premier League tests in Sheffield at the start of the 2019/20 campaign as they adjusted to the jump in quality following their promotion, though United’s improvement was fast and long lasting.
With the Blades’ impressive home form well established and Spurs continuing to misfire on their travels, a robust Sheffield United outfit look excellent value in the double chance market for Thursday.
United earned a share of the spoils in the reverse meeting between the clubs in November after a 1-1 draw that proved to be the last game of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham career – and we think a similar result looks likely for the sides’ rematch at Bramall Lane.
A draw at home to a team sitting just one point in front of them would be seen as an acceptable evening’s work by Chris Wilder as he attempts to redress the Blades’a alarming slide, while Tottenham, who drew 50% of their last six league matches as visitors, look ill-equipped to push for a win with Mourinho’s unimaginative tactics producing little in the way of attacking threat.
However, though the Blades remain adept at picking up points on home turf, their goal-scoring output is consistently modest, as evidenced by their 1.13 goals per game average at Bramall Lane this term.
United scored exactly one goal on four of their last six outings in Sheffield, and conceded exactly once in four of those fixtures during the same period. When you factor in Spurs’ record of notching exactly one goal in each of their last two away assignments, another 1-1 draw looks a sensible correct score prediction.
Key Battle – John Egan vs Harry Kane
John Egan’s absence was the common denominator in Sheffield United’s back-to-back 3-0 Premier League defeats to Newcastle and Man Utd last week.
With the scores tied at 0-0 at St. James’ Park, Egan’s red card sparked a three-goal flurry for the Magpies in the second half, and with the Republic of Ireland international suspended, the Blades were slice open all too easily at Old Trafford against a rampant Red Devils outfit.
Sheffield United will be thrilled to have Egan back in tow for their latest Premier League fixture against Spurs, though a fit and firing again Harry Kane will provide a stiff test for the centre-half’s defensive acumen.
Kane rattled home his first goal since December in Tottenham’s 2-0 win over West Ham last week, and will be aiming to maintain his scoring streak at the Blades’ expense on Thursday.
Sheffield United vs Tottenham Hotspur team news
Midfielder John Lundstrum came off against Arsenal in Sunday’s FA Cup quater final and should miss out against Spurs. Norwegian Sander Berge should replace him in Chris Wilders’ XI.
Key defender Jack O’Connell is still rated as doubtful, with Jack Robinson in line to replace him at the back again.
Elsewhere, David McGoldrick will likely keep his place up front after scoring what was only his second goal of the season in the Blades’ defeat to the Gunners on Sunday.
Sheffield United predicted line-up: Henderson, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McGoldrick, Mousset
Jose Mourinho has almost a full complement of players to choose from for Thursday’s contest, with youngsters Japhet Tanganga, Troy Parrott and Juan Foyth Spurs’ only injury concerns.
Eric Dier is expected to continue at centre half ahead of Toby Alderweireld, while Giovani Lo Celso is also in line to start again following his promising showing against West Ham.
Tottenham Hotspur predicted line-up: Lloris, Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Bergwijn, Lo Celso, Son, Kane