Sheffield United vs Bournemouth
England - Premier League 2019-2020. Feb 9th.
Closing odds - money line
Sheffield United vs Bournemouth 2 - 1
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Blades Heading for Fifth
There are only four Premier League games being played this weekend but they are important re European qualification and relegation. None more so than in this game as sixth placed Sheffield United host Bournemouth who are down in 16th.
When the season began, it was big-spending Aston Villa who looked the most likely of the promoted sides to do well. However, while Villa and Norwich battle relegation, Sheffield United are dreaming of qualifying for Europe.
Normally, it would take forming a band and trying to get into the Eurovision Song Contest to do that. It's February though and United are sixth in the Premier League only five points behind the final Champions League place.
The January transfer window is one when newly promoted sides often bolster their squad due to relegation problems. Not so for Sheffield United, who spent a club record £22m on Sander Berge from Gent. They may only have won nine of their 25 league games but in this crazy season, a place in Europe, perhaps even the Champions League is possible.
A tenth win of the season would take them up to fifth in the table and only a couple of points behind Chelsea. More wins could well be on their way as United have three straight home league games against Bournemouth, Brighton and Norwich. all in the bottom five.
Only three of their last ten league games have ended in defeat. Two of those were against Manchester City and the other inflicted by Liverpool, so it takes a good team to beat the Blades. United are sixth in the league but with the 11th best home record in the league with five defeats. Only Newcastle and Crystal Palace have scored less home goals than United.
Their last six home league games have only produced two victories but they came against struggling Aston Villa and West Ham. One thing most likely to happen this weekend is the absence of a high-scoring game. 12 home league matches have only seen 24 goals scored and six of those came in the 3-3 draw with Manchester United. Nine out of those 12 games have had under 2.5 goals scored in them and half under 1.5 goals.
Bournemouth on the Comeback Trail
Bournemouth had a terrible end to 2019 and relegation from the Premier League was looking a real possibility. They had climbed into the top four after a good start to the season, despite having several key players injured. Then came a run of two wins in 17 league games that saw them plummet down the table into the bottom three.
After four straight defeats without a goal being scored, Bournemouth had a vital home game against Brighton and Hove Albion. They won that vital game 3-1 and Callum Wilson ended his goal drought. Another crucial home game followed against Aston Villa and and two first half goals led to a vital 2-1 home victory.
Those two wins have taken Bournemouth out of the bottom three and up to 16th place and two points above the bottom three. Now they have to repeat that home form on their travels. Bournemouth have only three away league victories this season and eight defeats.
Six of their last seven on the road have been lost, the other being that surprise win at Chelsea. The winner at Stamford Bridge is the only goal they have scored in their last five away league fixtures. The two sides fought out a 1-1 draw on the opening weekend of the season. United can be backed to get the win here but it's likely to be in a game with under 2.5 goals scored.