BBC Sport’s Mark Lawrenson has backed Everton to beat Sheffield United on Saturday, but can see their shortfalls keeping the Toffees on their toes against an alert Blades side.
Everton and Sheffield United both lost last time out in the Premier League, with Marco Silva’s Toffees trumped at the Vitality Stadium away to AFC Bournemouth when defensive mistakes allowed the Cherries to seize their chances.
As for Chris Wilder’s Blades, they lost at home to Southampton, and now travel to Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon looking for their first away win in the top flight since December 2006 (TransferMarkt), when they beat Wigan Athletic 1-0 thanks to a first-half stoppage-time strike by Rob Hulse.
The Bramall Lane natives lost eight away games on the bounce following their triumph at the DW Stadium, but have started their return to the Premier League with a much more promising run of results through draws at Bournemouth and Chelsea.
However, Sheffield United are yet to keep a clean sheet on the road, and Lawrenson expects the Blades’ net to ripple twice on Saturday without reply and end their unbeaten start to the season away from home.
Writing in his weekly predictions for BBC Sport, the former Liverpool defender said: “Everton were not good enough against Bournemouth last weekend, but they are usually much better at Goodison Park.
“This will be a decent contest, though. Sheffield United were a little bit unlucky to lose at home to Southampton, after having a goal ruled out for offside by the Video Assistant Referee that would have changed the complexion of the game.
“The Blades were still very competitive and, if Everton show any of the defensive weaknesses that cost them against the Cherries, then Chris Wilder’s side can capitalise.”
Sheffield United were hardly starved of chances at Stamford Bridge, where an 89th-minute own goal by Kurt Zouma meant Frank Lampard’s side could not beat last season’s Championship runners-up.
Wilder’s men fashioned eight efforts in total in West London, but a lack of accuracy meant most went to waste, with five shooting wide of the goal frame, per data collected by WhoScored.
Chances will be at a premium on Saturday if Everton can maintain their strong form at Goodison Park, though, as the Toffees have allowed the second-least shots per game on average so far this season of the 20 Premier League sides, while the Blades head to Merseyside as the 17th-ranked offence for shots on the road.
Everton fans, can your backline withstand Sheffield United’s pressure? Let us know in the comments below…
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