Roberto De Zerbi’s side will look to get over their winless Premier League run on Sunday by repeating their midweek Europa League heroics. We look ahead with our data-powered Brighton vs Sheffield United preview and prediction.
Brighton vs Sheffield United: Quick Hits
- Brighton and Hove Albion (58.4%) are predicted to beat Sheffield United (16.4%) at home on Sunday, according to the Opta supercomputer.
- Brighton have both scored and conceded in their opening 11 Premier League games this season. The last side to do that in their opening 12 top-flight matches of a season were Liverpool in 1966-67.
- Sheffield United haven’t avoided defeat in back-to-back Premier League games since July 2020, with Sunday’s match their 53rd since then.
Brighton will look to get over their recent below-par league form when they take on a rejuvenated Sheffield United at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.
Roberto De Zerbi has received lots of plaudits for his work on the south coast, with teenage players appearing in 37 of Brighton’s 43 Premier League matches (86%) under the former Sassuolo boss.
Among managers to take charge of at least 25 games, only Eddie Gray (100%, 25/25) and Sven-Goran Eriksson (95%, 36/38) had at least one teenager in a higher percentage of matches than De Zerbi. Indeed, a teenage James Milner played in all 25 of Gray’s games for Leeds United in 2003-04, with Milner also starting Brighton’s last league game aged 37.
Arguably one of the most exciting teenagers in Premier League football currently is striker Evan Ferguson. The 19-year-old signed a new long term contract at the club n Friday and has five Premier League goals already this season, which is just one off his tally in 2022-23 (six) – one of those coming in Brighton’s last game at the Amex Stadium versus Fulham.
That meeting with Fulham ended 1-1, just like their game at Everton last week. Overall, Brighton are without a victory in their last five Premier League games, their longest winless run since winning none of their first five under De Zerbi last October. They currently look a far cry from the exciting side that took maximum points in five of their first six league games to kick off the season.
Despite their struggles of late, Brighton are sticking with De Zerbi’s principles, completing 778 passes in last weekend’s meeting with Everton, the most by a team in an away Premier League game since May 2021 (871, Manchester City at Newcastle United).
Since De Zerbi’s first game in charge last October, Brighton are second for successful passes (22,292), average possession (62.2%) and accuracy of passing (87.4%) in the top-flight, behind Pep Guardiola’s Man City in all three categories. The style of play is also paying dividends in the Europa League, with Thursday’s 2-0 win at Ajax leaving Brighton with seven points from four games and in great shape to progress from the group.
Sunday’s game pits Brighton against a Sheffield United side coming off their first win of the season, a dramatic and controversial 2-1 triumph over Wolves at Bramall Lane in which Oliver Norwood scored the winner from the spot with 99 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock, the third-latest winning Premier League goal on record (since 2006-07).
The much-needed win ended a run of 10 winless Premier League games to kick off the season, and though it was not enough to haul the Blades off the bottom of the league table, United are now just two points off safety, easing some of the pressure on manager Paul Heckingbottom.
Sunday offers the opportunity for Sheffield United to record back-to-back top-flight victories for the first time since July 2020. Although Brighton are formidable in attack, the Blades should be encouraged by the defensive vulnerability of De Zerbi’s side, who have both scored and conceded in all 11 Premier League games this season. The last side to do that in their opening 12 top-flight matches of a campaign was Liverpool back in 1966-67.
Sheffield United should also be the fresher team thanks to Brighton’s European adventures, with just three days between their Ajax win and Sunday’s league game. The Europa League victory was potentially costly, too, with Lewis Dunk, Pervis Estupinan and Milner all going off injured in that game, meaning they are doubtful for kick-off on Sunday.
De Zerbi is already without Solly March, Danny Welbeck, Jakub Moder, and Julio Enciso, and while Tariq Lamptey is nearing a return to the lineup, De Zerbi has stated that it won’t be until after the international break later this month.
Heckingbottom could be boosted by the returns of Max Lowe, Anel Ahmedhodzic and Oliver McBurnie from injury, all of whom have missed the last couple of games, though Gus Hamer is a doubt with a hamstring knock. Chris Basham’s season is over after suffering a horror ankle injury away at Fulham last month.
Brighton vs Sheffield United Head-to-Head
Brighton are winless in their last six home league games against Sheffield United (three draws, three losses), since a 2-0 win in the second tier in May 1987.
United have never lost a Premier League game against Brighton (two wins, two draws), scoring exactly one goal in each of their four meetings.
The last clash between the sides was back in April 2021, with an already relegated Sheffield United taking a 1-0 victory thanks to a David McGoldrick winner, their first win since Chris Wilder departed as manager.
Brighton’s wins over Ajax in both the home and away meetings in the Europa League are the only victories De Zerbi’s side have picked up in the last nine matches in all competitions, drawing four of those and losing three.
Sheffield United’s win over Wolves ended a run of six straight defeats, though they again failed to keep a clean sheet, having not kept one all season. They have conceded 30 times, more than any other side in the league, though eight of those came in one game, their 8-0 home defeat to Newcastle United in September.
United have lost 23 of their last 26 away Premier League games, losing all five matches this season. The last side to lose their first six away games in a Premier League season was the Blades in 2020-21 under Chris Wilder.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Brighton vs Sheffield United Prediction
Despite their recent poor Premier League form, the Opta supercomputer has Brighton as big favourites to take maximum points from this weekend’s game, winning 58.4% of the simulations conducted ahead of Matchday 12.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are given a 16.4% chance of making it back-to-back victories with another win on Sunday, while the teams draw 25.2% of the time.
Brighton could do with a victory to get their bid for European football back on track, now achieving a top-six finish in just 15.4% of simulations having headed into MD7 with a 66.8% chance of finishing in the Champions League or Europa League places. Sheffield United need every point they can get in their fight against the drop, predicted to finish bottom and relegated 81.9% of the time.