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Sheffield United is live underdog against Nottingham Forest in Friday’s EPL match

Two relegation favorites do battle on Friday afternoon

Jack Robinson, John Egan and George Baldock of Sheffield United defend against players of Crystal Palace  during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on August 12, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Jack Robinson, John Egan and George Baldock of Sheffield United defend against players of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on August 12, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)Read moreLaurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Two teams expected to be fighting relegation will meet at the City Ground on Friday afternoon. Nottingham Forest is a -115 home favorite on the three-way moneyline over newly-promoted Sheffield United after both teams suffered defeats in their season-opener last weekend.

Results will be hard to come by for both Forest and Sheffield United this season, so getting three points on Friday could end up being a big deal for what projects to be a wide open relegation battle in 2023-24.

Let’s break it down.

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Nottingham Forest vs. Sheffield United: Analysis

Nottingham Forest had severe home/away splits last season. Overall, the Tricky Trees finished in 16th-place with a -30 goal difference and a -24.9 expected goal (xG) differential, but they secured eight of their nine wins at the City Ground and boasted a +3 goal difference on friendly soil.

Their xG data (Forest had a -7.7 xGD in Nottingham) suggests that the Trees probably ran hot at home, but there was certainly an advantage to be gained from playing at the City Ground last season, which was their first in the Premier League since 1998-99.

Whether that home-field advantage carries into the new campaign remains to be seen, but it does seem to be impacting the betting market for this match. Expectations are pretty low for Sheffield United this season, but making Forest, who are currently the third-favorite to be relegated, a -110 favorite against any Premier League team seems a bit out of touch.

The other factor that seems to be impacting the market perception of this matchup is that Forest performed admirably in a tough Matchweek 1 assignment. The Tricky Trees lost, 2-1, on the road to Arsenal, but they made a game of it with an 82nd-minute goal and the expected goals — which ended 1.2 to 0.8 in favor of Arsenal — showed that this match wasn’t really a rout, although score effects (Arsenal got out to an early 2-0 lead) seemed to impact how the Gunners approached the second half.

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As for Sheffield United, things were not pretty in their return to Premier League action. The Blades looked out of sorts — especially going forward — in a loss to Crystal Palace and the 1-0 scoreline probably flattered Sheffield United.

That said, overreacting to what we saw in match week 1 is always a dangerous game to play and as drab as the Blades looked against Crystal Palace, it was still just one match. Perhaps the home-field advantage that Nottingham Forest will be legitimate again this season, but it’s hard to get on board with the Tricky Trees as an odds-on favorite against another Premier League side just one match into the campaign.

Nottingham Forest vs. Sheffield United: Pick

  1. The Bet: Sheffield United +330 (DraftKings)

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