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Odds and Ends

PL Best Bets: No more magic from Sheffield

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: January 30, 2021, 11:04 am ET

There's a new leader at the top of the table after Manchester United suffered an embarrassing home loss to Sheffield United. Ole Gunnar's team came out flat, conceding an early goal and ultimately losing by a 2-1 margin. Now they're staring up at cross-town rival Manchester City atop the table, with Leicester City in close pursuit.

Each week I'll break down the Premier League action from a betting perspective, digging through information pertinent to bettors and offering my take on particular matchups. This weekend's slate is packed with great fixtures, but two matches caught my attention including another stern test for Sheffield (all odds via PointsBet Sportsbook):

Sheffield United at Manchester City (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)

Line: Match Result and Both Teams to Score: Man City and No (-165), Man City and Yes (+200), Draw and Yes (+1000), Draw and No (+2000), Sheffield and Yes (+2900), Sheffield and No (+3000)

Sheffield United are coming off the biggest upset of the week, as they unexpectedly took out the league leaders. Outside of the final score, Manchester United dominated the stat sheet as Sheffield United had just 24 percent of the possession and took only five shots. But they found a way to keep the league giants at bay.

After notching two straight league victories, Sheffield should come into this weekend's match with loads of confidence. Could they possibly knock off league leaders in back-to-back fixtures? The simple answer is no.

Manchester City are on a bit of a run themselves. Pep Guardiola's club has been playing at an unbelievably high level, as the squad has had success even without their lead striker, Sergio Agüero. At times Pep has been forced to get creative in Aguero's absence due to a lack of true strikers on the roster, but City have not lost in their last 10 EPL fixtures.

They have nine clean sheets during that span, winning seven of the 10 matches, and have cumulatively outscored their opponents by a 21-2 margin. They lead the league with 11 clean sheets, seven of which have come at home, and have shut out their opponents in 70 percent of their home matches.

Although Sheffield United have been in good form and are coming into this match off a huge, momentum-building victory, I will be betting Manchester City to win and BTTS No (-165). Don't let Sheffield's victory over United fool you into backing them this weekend. They were dominated on the field and should've drawn at best.

We cannot overlook the fact that Sheffield are tied for the most goalless games this season, having been held scoreless in 10 fixtures. They have failed to score a single goal in half of their matches this season, and I see that trend continuing this weekend. With Manchester City's continued dominance, I'll also be placing a small wager on Manchester City to win both halves (+105).

Leicester City at Leeds United (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET)

Line: Over 2.5 goals (-165), Under 2.5 goals (+132)

After the injury to Manchester City's star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, the top of the table looks much closer to the rest of the field.

Leicester City were fortunate to pick up a late draw in their last fixture against Everton. Unfortunately for Leicester, they will once again be without team leader Jamie Vardy as he recovers from hernia surgery.

The absence of Vardy looms large, as the forward has scored 13 goals and assisted on five others. Leicester City must also cope with the absence of Wilfred Ndidi, who picked up a hamstring injury in the midweek fixture.

Fortunately for the Foxes, Harvey Barnes and James Maddison have played lights-out this season. Maddison in particular has caught fire of late, scoring three goals in the last five fixtures. Although the offense runs through Vardy, this is a club averaging 1.8 goals per game. They should have no issues putting away two goals against an often-leaky Leeds United side.

A Tuesday victory over Newcastle broke a mini-slump for Leeds, who had lost back-to-back Premier League matches. They had been on a bit of a roll up until then, playing well both home and away.

Both of these clubs have been hitting the over 2.5 goals mark at an alarming rate this season: Leeds is second in the league, hitting the o2.5 in 63 percent of their matches, while Leicester City is not far behind at a 55 percent clip. Despite Vardy's absence, Leicester City should not have any issues against Leeds, who have conceded in all but two matches.

I think Leicester City wins this one by a 2-1 margin, but I think the total provides a better wagering option. I will be betting over 2.5 goals (-165) and, while it's a bit juicy, I do also like Both Teams to Score (-180).

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Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.