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Match Previews

Palace Preview: Eagles' finishing could be the difference v Sheffield United

1 January 2021

Crystal Palace kick off 2021 by welcoming Sheffield United to Selhurst Park on Saturday, January 2nd (15:00 GMT).

After a hard-fought draw against Leicester City on Monday, Palace can start the year on the front foot with victory over the Blades.

Sheffield United have struggled this season, failing to win any of their 16 games in the league so far. Their two points is their lowest total at this stage of a Premier League season, their next lowest being 12 points after 16 games in 1993/94.

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However, Palace will be aware of the threat they pose after losing both games last season – they haven’t lost three consecutive games to Sheffield United since April 1973.

After scoring against Leicester, Wilfried Zaha now has eight league goals this season. Both he and Nathaniel Clyne played in Palace’s last victory over Sheffield United in 2011, when Darren Ambrose scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Gary Cahill is the only Eagle in the current squad to have turned out for Sheffield United, playing 16 times for the club during a loan move in 2007, scoring twice.

Amongst the Blades, John Egan had a short stint at Selhurst Park on loan from Sunderland during the 2011-12 season. Goalkeeper Wes Foderingham signed his first professional deal at Palace but failed to make a first-team appearance.

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Match details

  • Saturday, 2nd January
  • 15:00 GMT
  • Selhurst Park
  • Sky Sports

Tactical overview

Although Sheffield United have struggled for goals this season, it’s not for want of trying. Interestingly, Sheffield United (16.3 xG) have a similar number of expected goals as Palace (16.5 xG), the metric which predicts the number of goals a side should have scored based on the chances they created.

However, while Palace have converted their chances to score 20 goals this season, Sheffield United have finished only eight.

Should the visitors score first, the game is still by no means over. Sheffield United have lost three of the four games in which they have been leading this season, drawing the other. Meanwhile, Palace recovered a point from a losing position against Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park in December.

Did you know?

Sheffield United lost their first league game of 2020, going down 0-2 at Liverpool. They’ve not lost their first league game in consecutive calendar years since doing so in 2011 and 2012.

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The visitors have won just 8% of their Premier League games in London, winning two of their 25 visits (D8 L15). Indeed, of all teams to have played at least 20 Premier League away games in the capital, only Derby have a lower win rate (2.6%).

They are winless in their 16 league games this season (D2 L14), equalling Queens Park Rangers’ Premier League record of longest winless run from the start of a campaign (16 in 2012-13). The last English top-flight side to fail to win any of their first 17 games in a season was Bolton Wanderers in 1902-03 (22).

Team news

After suffering with early season injuries, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder will be glad to have a number of key players back to full fitness – the only long-term absentee is Jack O’Connell, who remains out with a knee injury.

However, Oli McBurnie missed the defeat at Turf Moor against Burnley on Tuesday, with Oliver Burke only fit enough to start on the bench.

Roy Hodgson has a similarly fit squad to choose from, despite a number of players appearing twice in three days over the Christmas period. Gary Cahill remains a doubt after a hamstring injury.

How to follow


Palace v Sheffield United will be shown live in the UK via Sky Sports. Full details can be found here.

Palace Audio

Palace supporters all over the world can listen to live audio commentary of every Palace fixture in the 2020/21 season for just £1.49 per game on the official club app, mobile internet or on desktop.

Fans can buy a 24-Hour Pass (for a single matchday) for £1.49 by clicking here

Find out more about Palace Audio here

Social media

You can check out our Instagram story for all of the pre-match build-up and our official Twitter page is bringing you up-to-the-minute match updates, eye catching photos and more.

Our club website,, is the place to go for team news on the dot, an instant report and all the post-match votes.

The official app

The official Palace app’s match centre is the place to be for everything you need during the Sheffield United clash. With live stats and alerts, a running match commentary feed and lineups the moment they’re released as well as all an instant match report and post-match reaction from Palace TV, there’s no need to leave the app to follow the Eagles’ efforts.

Download our app for free here!

International fans

For fans following from abroad, have a look at our Worldwide TV Listings here.

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