EPL Saturday betting preview: Blades to battle Blues at Bramall Lane

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We’re heading into the last four matchdays of the season, and aside from Liverpool being champions, it’s difficult to project how the final Premier League table will look.

Six clubs remain in regulation peril, four still hold a legitimate shot at one of the final two Champions League places, and the five teams below are still fighting for a European berth.

It’s going to be a fascinating end to the season, and there’s plenty of value for bettors. Starting with Matchday 35, which begins with five fixtures on Saturday.

West Ham (+100) at Norwich City (+225), Draw (+250)

You have to wonder about the mentality around the Norwich camp right now. A loss at Vicarage Road on Tuesday sealed the Canaries’ fate – they will be playing Championship football. They just can’t score enough, and the squad is far too loose in defense after losing five straight since the restart.

Meanwhile, West Ham’s good run of form ended against a typically stubborn Burnley side – which we told you to bet on – but David Moyes’ club was a lot better than the scoreline suggested. The Hammers finished with an expected goals mark of 2.00, yet they failed to score, missing on a few huge chances.

The positive for them is they’re still sitting above the drop, and leading scorer Sebastien Haller returned midweek as a substitute. He might not be ready for a full 90 minutes yet, but Haller will certainly play a part for a West Ham side looking to take a big step toward safety with a win at Carrow Road.

Pick: West Ham (+100)

Newcastle (+325) at Watford (-125), Draw (+250)

Watford will be breathing a little easier after winning for the first time since the restart on Tuesday, but it was hardly a convincing victory. There were many labored spells against Norwich from Nigel Pearson’s side, which didn’t pose much of a threat in attack, scoring twice despite posting an expected goals mark of 0.73.

Their inability to generate chances and score has been a consistent problem for the Hornets lately. Troy Deeney is really struggling for form as service remains scarce, with the club missing the inventiveness of the injured Gerard Deulofeu. It’s hard to see where the goals will come from.

As they fight for scraps near the bottom, Newcastle can celebrate earning another EPL season. Steve Bruce’s Magpies are playing excellent football – midweek thrashing at the hands of Manchester City aside. That form was uncharacteristic of Newcastle under Bruce, and I expect quite the response from the team this weekend at Vicarage, especially with the key trio of Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Jamaal Lascelles in line to return.

Newcastle have never won a top-flight match at Vicarage, but the circumstances are quite different now without supporters in the stands. While there’s excellent value in backing the visitors at +325, a share of the spoils is likely.

Pick: Draw (+250)

Chelsea (-185) at Sheffield United (+425), Draw (+275)

It took a few matches, but tactician Chris Wilder sorted things out nicely for Sheffield United, who are once again playing well. In their last three contests, the Blades have beaten Spurs and Wolves, and recorded a draw at Turf Moor. With four matches remaining, they’ve earned an outside shot at the Champions League, and are well-positioned to secure a European berth.

Much like Burnley under Sean Dyche, the Blades give opponents little room to operate. They’re a wonderfully combative side and an incredibly tough out. They’ve lost just two of their last 13 matches at Bramall Lane, impressively taking points from Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Wolves over that span.

Chelsea are ticking along nicely as they aim to lock up a Champions League place, but the Blues are giving up far too many looks in defense right now to warrant backing at such a short price. Frank Lampard needs to iron out that issue over the summer through the transfer market. In the meantime, don’t expect Chelsea to keep a clean sheet here, and they’ll likely be forced to settle for a point.

Pick: Draw (+275)

(Odds source: BetaSoccer Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for BetaSoccer. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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