We look ahead to Sunday’s early kick-off in the Premier League with our Sheffield United vs West Ham prediction and preview. How will the Hammers respond to their midweek FA Cup exit?

Sheffield United vs West Ham Stats: The Quick Hits

  • Across 10,000 match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer, West Ham were predicted to beat Sheffield United in 51.5% of scenarios.
  • Sheffield United have conceded 49 goals in 20 Premier League games this season. They could become just the third team to concede 50 goals through 21 games or fewer in a single campaign, after Barnsley in 1997-98 (19 games) and West Bromwich Albion in 2020-21 (21).
  • West Ham have won their last 11 Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom of the table, including a 2-0 win in September’s return fixture. In the competition’s history, only Manchester City (12) have had a longer such winning run.

Match Preview

If David Moyes thought a run of four Premier League games unbeaten – a sequence including victories over Manchester United and Arsenal – was enough to silence his doubters, he was made to think again as Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat at Bristol City reignited the debate over his long-term future at the London Stadium. Can the Hammers bounce back at Sheffield United on Sunday?

An early mix-up between Konstantinos Mavropanos and Lukasz Fabianski proved costly for West Ham in midweek, with Bristol City’s Tommy Conway capitalising as the Irons suffered their first third-round exit since 2016-17. In a further blow for Moyes, Saïd Benrahma was sent off for a petulant kick on Joe Williams and will now serve a three-match ban.

Benrahma’s suspension comes at a dreadful time for West Ham, who are already without several attacking stars. While Mohammed Kudus is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana, Lucas Paquetá and Michail Antonio remain sidelined for the trip to Bramall Lane.

West Ham, could, however, have Jarrod Bowen back after tests showed the forward’s ankle injury is not as serious as first feared. Bowen has nine goal involvements in nine away Premier League games this season (seven goals, two assists), a tally only bettered by Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (10).

Nevertheless, in Paquetá (0.17) and Kudus (0.14), West Ham will be without their two leading players for open-play expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term. In their absence, they might hope a more direct approach pays dividends.

Sheffield United have conceded a Premier League-high 13 goals from crosses this season, and no player in the competition boasts more assists via crosses than West Ham’s James Ward-Prowse (five). Only Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier (53) and Luton Town’s Alfie Doughty (42) have registered more successful crosses than Ward-Prowse’s 37 in Premier League action this term.

JWP crosses PL 23-24

There has been little love lost between Sheffield United and West Ham since 2006-07, when Carlos Tevez inspired the Hammers to safety at the Blades’ expense despite his arrival in east London being found to have breached Premier League rules.

The hosts should need no additional motivation in their quest for three points on Sunday, though, with Chris Wilder’s side entering Matchday 21 eight points adrift of safety. The Blades are winless in four league matches and suffered a damaging 3-2 defeat to Luton in their last outing at Bramall Lane on Boxing Day.

While their results have not yet caught up with their performances, Sheffield United have at least improved their underlying numbers since Wilder replaced Paul Heckingbottom last month. Having averaged 2.8 goals conceded, 19 shots faced and 2.23 expected goals against (xGA) per game through 14 league matches under Heckingbottom in 2023-24, they have averaged 1.7 goals conceded, 13.7 shots faced and 1.52 xGA per game in six league fixtures since Wilder’s return.

While the Blades have tightened up somewhat under Wilder, they have still conceded 49 goals in 20 league matches in 2023-24, and they could now become just the third side to ship a half-century of goals through 21 games or fewer in a single Premier League campaign. Barnsley conceded 50 in their first 19 outings of 1997-98, while West Bromwich Albion reached the figure in 21 matches in 2020-21. Unsurprisingly, both teams went on to be relegated.

Sheffield United also need someone to step up in front of goal if they are to avoid that same fate – could Oli McBurnie be that man? He has scored in three successive home Premier League appearances but has finished on the losing side in each of those games (versus Manchester United, Bournemouth and Luton), becoming the first player in the competition’s history to do so.

As for team news for Sunday’s hosts, they have endured their fair share of injury problems this season but could have several players returning for this game. Auston Trusty, Anel Ahmedhodžić and George Baldock should all be available after missing their 4-0 FA Cup win over Gillingham, while Jayden Bogle will be assessed after suffering a concussion before that match.

Sheffield United vs West Ham Head-to-Head

West Ham have won their last three Premier League games against Sheffield United, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.

Bowen and Tomás Soucek were on target in September’s reverse fixture, with West Ham cruising to a 2-0 win at the London Stadium in what was Moyes’ 900th league game as a manager.

West Ham v Sheff Utd stats

That run has come after the Hammers only managed two victories in their previous 12 league meetings with the Blades, drawing six and losing four.

Sheffield United lost 1-0 when they last hosted West Ham in league action, with Sébastien Haller hitting the Hammers’ winner in November 2020. They could now lose back-to-back home league games against West Ham for the first time since February 1963.

Recent Form

West Ham are looking to preserve a proud defensive record on Sunday, having kept four successive clean sheets in the Premier League against Wolves, Man Utd, Arsenal and Brighton.

That is despite Moyes’ men facing 77 shots across those matches. They are now looking to keep five successive league clean sheets for the first time since doing so as a second-tier side between December 1990 and January 1991. They last recorded five straight shutouts in the top flight between November and December 1985.

The Hammers have also won their last 11 Premier League games against teams starting the day bottom of the table, with only Man City (a current run of 12) ever enjoying a longer such streak in the competition’s history.

Sheffield United, meanwhile, have taken just seven points from their 10 home games this season, with only Burnley (four) earning fewer on their own turf in the Premier League.

The hosts will be keen to avoid another slow start, having conceded first in a league-high 16 Premier League games this season, only salvaging two draws in those matches. By contrast, only Tottenham (five games) and Arsenal (six) have conceded first less often than West Ham (seven).

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 in this game, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Sheffield United vs West Ham Opta Player Ratings

The Opta Player Ratings are something we introduced ahead of 2023-24. For a quick primer on how they’re calculated, you can check our explainer here.

Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:

Sheffield United

Cameron Archer: 62.7 (out of 100)
Gustavo Hamer: 52.5
James McAtee: 52.3
Wes Foderingham: 50.0
Luke Thomas: 48.9

West Ham

Jarrod Bowen: 77.6 (out of 100)
Mohammed Kudus: 77.5
James Ward-Prowse: 74.2
Alphonse Areola: 70.4
Emerson: 70.3

Sheffield United vs West Ham Prediction

Sheffield United vs West Ham Prediction

The Opta supercomputer does not hold out much hope for the struggling hosts, with West Ham clear favourites to leave Bramall Lane with three points.

Moyes’ men won 51.5% of 10,000 pre-match simulations conducted by the supercomputer, with Sheffield United only triumphing in 21.1%, and 27.4% finishing level.

In the supercomputer’s 2023-24 predictions, meanwhile, Sheffield United are given just a 2.6% chance of avoiding relegation.

They finish bottom of the table in 63.6% of our season simulations, with only champions City assigned a higher chance of finishing in a particular position, finishing top in 65.0% of scenarios.

Despite some fans’ misgivings over Moyes, West Ham are still seen as European hopefuls, with sixth (25.3%) their most common position across our projections.

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