Blades to bounce back!
The celebrations from England's win in the UEFA Nations League are coming to a close and now it's time to focus again on domestic football. At 12:30 PM GMT on Saturday, Rotherham will take on Sheffield United, a game in which I'm backing the away team.
Newcomers Rotherham had very low expectations before the season began, so currently sitting outside of the relegation zone can be deemed a success somewhat.
On paper Rotherham are the league's worst team. Although they've played 17 games and are currently 19th, Rotherham are only two points ahead of second from bottom Bolton, so things can change quickly. After only 17 games the table can lie and had the table always been this fair, Rotherham would, in my opinion, have been in the relegation zone now.
Rotherham head into this weekend's game unbeaten in five (four draws) which is a strong showing, but things are a bit more nuanced when you start to scratch beneath the surface. Let's look at their shots for and against in their last four matches.
- Blackburn - Rotherham: 1-1 (16-8 shots, 9-1 shots on target(!))
- Rotherham - Swansea: 2-1 (5-9 shots)
- Preston - Rotherham: 1-1 (10-8 shots)
- Middlesborough - Rotherham: 0-0 (12-6 shots)
Here we are just looking at the shots, but if we look at all the statistics (which I won't bore you with) then we can clearly see that they have been the weaker team in all of their past four games. So, you can look at their form in different ways, some will only see that the team are undefeated, but I choose to recognise that Rotherham have been the weaker team in all of their past four matches.
Sheffield United are this season's surprise package in my opinion. The Blades are in fourth place which is incredibly impressive when you consider that this team is far from the best on paper. But it's not just their league position that is the impressive thing about Sheffield United. They also look promising in terms of their playing style, even if their form has dipped a little over the past week couple of weeks.
With only one win in the past five matches there are many that think that Sheffield United are over-performing this season, and that it'll soon come to an end. I think the opposite.
Sheffield United have created the second most goal chances per match, just after WBA in the league this season. Their defence is also solid and they've conceded the fourth least goal scoring opportunities in the league per match. Sheffield United will play this game off the back off a 0-0 draw in which they really deserved three points. 75% possession, 12-4 in shots, 5-1 shots on target and a penalty miss - all in all it was not a good day at the office for the Blades.
After a few bad results the team have been given a well deserved break and if they can play like they did in their last game against rivals Sheffield Wednesday then it should be a comfortable win for them against Rotherham.
It takes a lot for me to back an away team in the Championship with odds of 20/27, but in this instance I really do think that the odds are too high for the away team.
In my book, Sheffield United have a 60% chance of a win and these odds have value in them. I don't know why Bethard have over-valued Rotherham here, it's something they should really be on top. Perhaps Rotherham's recent results are blurring the real picture.
If we look at what Sheffield United's odds have been over the past three matches we can also see that they are not valued as highly by the betting companies as they should be.
I recommend backing Sheffield United at odds of 20/27 with Bethard.