Mark O'Haire - City To Shut Out Blades And League Two Goals

8 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire returns to share his favourite fancies from the weekend with a pair of plays from the Premier League and the EFL…

Mark O’Haire has had back-to-back clean sweeps on his Matchbook Insights column.

He’s hoping for more of the same this weekend…


If last week was possibly the best time to face Manchester City, the treble winners certainly didn’t show it

The Citizens were missing key players, drained from a midweek trip to Athens when clinching the UEFA Super Cup, and were forced to fill the bench with youngsters.

But Pep Guardiola’s depleted squad eased to a 1-0 victory over Newcastle, neutering their opponents from the off.

Despite the absentees, City bossed possession, took complete command on proceedings and defended solidly when called upon – the visitors were restricted to just one shot on-target, which came after a rare defensive error from Rodri.

Injuries and illness have eased in the week – only Kevin de Bruyne and John Stones are confirmed absentees for Sunday’s trip to Sheffield United – although, Man City will now be without head coach Pep Guardiola for the Bramall Lane contest.

Nevertheless, opposing the Citizens with their proposed XI still appearing super-strong is hard.

I’ll obviously be backing Manchester City to win but we can grab an attractive 1.8 by supporting the Citizens to seal top honours alongside a clean sheet.

The Blue Moon have kept back-to-back Premier League shutouts already, allowed just two on-target attempts and a total of 0.62 Expected Goals (xG) from their opening encounters.

Burnley away and Newcastle at home are significantly tougher assignments than a trip to Sheffield United, especially with the Blades looking weaker than the side that secured promotion from the Championship last season.

Paul Heckingbottom’s outfit are pointless, have scored just once and generated only 1.02 xG across their two tussles thus far.

The South Yorkshire side scored 73 goals in the second-tier last season – 36 of those goals were scored by players departing this summer.

The only player present who notched more than six league strikes is Oli McBurnie and the Scottish striker has managed just one in 23 EPL outings – he’s also missed pre-season and the first two fixtures with injury.

Last Friday against Nottingham Forest, William Osula started – he’s a 19-year-old academy forward who has never scored for Sheffield United.

Antwoine Hackford replaced Osula – he’s also a 19-year-old academy striker who had made one senior league appearance before the current campaign.

To make matters worse, Benie Traore and Vini Souza – two of the Blades’ shining lights at the City Ground – were injured and are now considered doubts for Sunday’s showdown against Man City. In fairness, the club are working hard to clinch a deal for Cameron Archer in-time for kick-off but the home side look up against it here.

Under Guardiola, Man City boast a W26-D2-L2 record at bottom-six finishers, averaging 2.93 goals and giving up only 0.53 goals per-game. A chunky 18 (60%) of those matches ended in a Man City win to nil.

Similarly, the Citizens have won without conceding in 15 (60%) of 26 away days when priced-up at odds 1.25 or shorter in the EPL since 2017/18.


Wrexham have been League Two’s great entertainers. The newly-promoted Hollywood club have seen 26 goals across their opening four fixtures; a 5-3 defeat opened their campaign before a 1-1 draw, a 4-3 victory and then last weekend’s bonkers 5-5 with Swindon.

The pre-season favourites own the division’s worst defence – shipping three goals more than any other side in the whole of the EFL – with goalkeeper Ben Foster deciding this week to return to retirement following a less than impressive August between the sticks.

Will the change in-goal stop the haemorrhaging of goals? Possibly, yet Wrexham’s gung-ho style was evident during their memorable National League title season and Phil Parkinson’s troops will continue to play front-foot football when they travel to Barrow on Saturday.

Going forward, the Red Dragons remain a real force. Despite the absence of Paul Mullin, the Welsh club have plundered 13 goals, generated 2.03 non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) per-game, and averaged a tasty 13 shots from inside the penalty box.

Both Teams To Score has banked in all four of Wrexham’s fourth-tier fixtures, with three of those tussles also banking for Over 5.5 Goals backers. So I’m keen to support Over 2.5 Goals at an attractive 1.91 as Parkinson’s posse head to Holker Street.

Barrow have seen both sides score in three of their opening four dates.

Pete Wild’s side were unable to get on the scoresheet last weekend against a Stockport side renowned for their resilient rearguard.

But the Bluebirds should relish a return home, as well as a bumper crowd and a full week to prepare, potentially giving us an exciting goal-laden affair.

Recommended Bets

  • Manchester City to win and BTTS No in Sheffield United vs Manchester City – 1 unit @ 1.8
  • Over 2.5 Goals in Barrow vs Wrexham – 1 unit @ 1.91

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