West Brom v Sheffield United
Wednesday August 18, 20:00
West Brom superb for an hour
New West Brom boss Valerien Ismael felt his side were ‘brilliant for an hour’ as they came away with a well-deserved 3-2 success over Luton in their first outing at The Hawthorns this season. The Baggies raced into a three-goal lead thanks to a Kal Naismith own goal together with strikes from Callum Robinson and Karlan Grant before allowing the Hatters in late on.
Following a first Championship victory with Albion, Ismael said: “I think we started well. We were in control. And we showed the power of the crowd combined with the way we play. We dominated the opponent. We should have scored more goals in the first half. At the end of the day, it was important to win the game because it was difficult at the end.”
England international Sam Johnstone returned in goal having recently opened talks about extending his contract with WBA, and Ismael also opted to make a change in defence where Matt Clarke made his Baggies debut. Elsewhere, Albion lined up as expected in their 3-4-3 formation with Robinson the central striker with Grady Diangana and Grant on the flanks.
Sheffield United fail to fire
Sheffield United won their first point of the season on Saturday as the Blades were held to a 0-0 draw at Swansea. The Blades had only just over a third of possession, but goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was only tested with one shot with neither team warranting top honours in a largely forgettable contest that left head coach Slavisa Jokanovic frustrated.
The Serbian said, “We didn’t create enough chances, I didn’t feel we were in too much danger either. We didn’t create enough to win the game. We play what we can play. We are where we are and we are definitely looking for some improvement, to be more competitive. Huge work is ahead of us. We are not at the level we expect but I hope we will soon be.”
The Blades boss fielded four forwards in his starting XI – Billy Sharp was often isolated on his own ahead of David McGoldrick, Oli Burke and Rhian Brewster with the latter operating more as an auxiliary left back for much of the game because he was so deep. Nevertheless, a move to sign Ben Davies has been completed and Ronaldo Vieira is also close to joining.
Last season’s Premier League meetings between West Brom and Sheffield United saw each team win their respective home encounters and the recent head-to-head match-ups give little away. This century, the Baggies have returned W6-D2-L6 in 14 league contests against the Blades, with the hosts only posting W3-D1-L3 against United at The Hawthorns.
West Brom 2.166/5 have generated the third-highest non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) total after two rounds of Championship action, have attempted the most shots, as well as firing in the most efforts from inside the penalty box. With five goals already to their name, Valerien Ismael’s outfit have been fun to follow and will take a front-foot approach here.
Only Barnsley have produced a lower npxG figure total than Sheffield United 3.8014/5 thus far with Slavisa Jokanovic’s side appearing a work in progress after failing to find the back of the net against Swansea and Birmingham. The Blades have managed just four shots on-target across their opening outings and will need to improve in the final-third.
West Brom’s first two fixtures under Valerien Ismael’s tutorship have proven to be thrilling affairs with a non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) tally of 6.12. Over 2.5 Goals 2.206/5 has clicked in both matches with Both Teams To Score 1.9620/21 supporters also earning pay-outs in the two tussles. There’s no suggestion Albion will attempt to change tact on Wednesday.
Although Sheff Utd’s curtain-raisers have produced a dreary 3.08 npxG total, the visitors do boast the ability to hurt opposition defences in more open and expansive showdowns. Despite warning his side about the dangers of WBA, Slavisa Jokanovic will be looking to exploit weaknesses in the home side’s backline and a watchable affair is expected.
With that in mind, Both Teams To Score looks a little on the large side, trading at a fraction under even-money at 1.9620/21 on the Exchange.