Friday, 14 November 2008

Sheffield United vs Reading

Off to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane as ever on Saturday, so he’s a little preview for you punters.

This looks a toughie to call on paper and the bookies have some wildly differing views on the matter, the high street offering prices ranging from 5/4 to 6/4 about United, 8/5 to 15/8 on Reading and 11/5 to 12/5 on the draw. I have to mention that my new employers William Hill are offering some of the worst odds on this match, they obviously know something …

Both sides are in good form, but ours is far better, results-wise. United’s 2-1 win over Barnsley (didn’t someone here predict that?) means they are now unbeaten in five, having lost just once in the last nine league matches, that match finishing 1-0 with the Blades having ten men for over two-thirds of the game. Reading have lost once in their last five matches but have scored seven goals in the last two matches. They are also second top scorers in the league, only one side has scored more away from home and Kevin Doyle leads the scoring charts with 13 goals (Beattie is United’s top scorer with seven, by way of comparison). Interestingly though, United are the league’s tightest defence, conceding just nine times in 16 matches, just twice in eight home fixtures – now you can see why the bookies and indeed the punters are struggling to call it.

Looking in more detail at Reading’s form cheered me up a bit. I came into this thinking I’d be predicting a Blades defeat (Reading are a serious bogey team, we never get anything off them – two draws and eight defeats in the last ten league matches and in the promotion season, we should have won both games but for ridiculous referees and luck, opinions backed up by most Reading fans I spoke to about it) but it seems Reading’s away form is incredibly patchy. Two wins, four draws, four defeats, 12 goals scored and 12 conceded – far from promotion form. Interestingly, they beat top of the league Wolves 3-0 away and spanked Bristol City 4-1, but then they drew with a poor Watford outfit (needing a fictional goal to get that point) as well as losing 4-2 to a terrible Charlton side, drawing 0-0 with newly promoted Forest and slipping up with poor results against Burnley and Ipswich.

My one concern about United’s defence, though rock solid of late, is that we could be shaken by the recent Chris Morgan affair. Coppell is a slimy toss-piece and they always target our players (remember Gillespie being sent off after a minute?) for dirty tricks. I fully expect everyone to be winding Morgs up, as well as diving about like the cheating filth that they are, which might knock him out of his stride. With Ugo suspended and no centre half cover, we could end up in trouble. Morgan is going to be the key for me; if he rises to it and plays well, we’ll win by the odd goal, but if he gets riled, gets an early booking and God forbid, gets sent off, we’re in trouble against a free-scoring Reading. With their recent “bogey side” history against us, I’d fully expect the latter.

Bramall Lane has not been the place to see goals this season, with just 14 in eight (1.75 a game). By contrast, Wolverhampton tops the table with 3.375 a game. I take this to mean that our average is due to climb a little, rather than suggesting another low scoring game and as Reading are second top scorers in the league, this is the game to target. But as I’ve said, if Morgan keeps his head and we don’t succumb to their tricks, keeping 11 men on the pitch, we do have the defence to keep them quiet. We’re also “due” a win against our old bogey side (gambler’s fallacy!) and at 6/4 (Coral, Betfred, Bet365, many more) I honestly believe we look good value.

If you’re just looking for a couple of quid at bigger odds, I am predicting another 2-1 home win. I’m feeling good about a win by the odd goal, I don’t think it’ll be 1-0 as we’re due some goals and we continue to create plenty of chances. It won’t be as high as 3-2 as our defence is simply too canny. William Hill again go best price at 10/1 and interestingly, the Magic Sign go as short as 7/1.


I will be reverting to superstitious type for this one and I can assure you I won’t be placing any bets. That’s only because it’s important for our promotion bid and I don’t want to jinx us, I reckon my punting logic is sound! Also bear in mind that I never talk United up and have done this consistently in the last fortnight or so, which means my dreams are soon to be shattered. I’m such a superstitious fool.


After the match, The Bon Bon Club are playing a pub round the corner from the Lane. If I don't get at least a photo of me with Reenie (ex Long Blondes bassist), I'm going to cry. It's a small place, free entry and a few other bands on, should be a laugh.



TheHat said...

I'll not be touching this game - a very tough betting match imo.

moDtheGod said...

Well, our poor start gifted them an early lead and they didn't look back.

Couldn't understand our starting formation, we had 4 central midfielders playing and a £2 million winger doing nowt. Changes at half time worked, we played pretty well really, but lacked the edge up top. We missed two absolute sitters.