Blades may struggle to overturn first-leg deficit
There has to be a danger that cup exploits of Sheffield United will have a negative impact in their bid to gain promotion out of League One but you won’t find many Blades’ fans who would give up the chance of another Wembley appearance for three points against table-toppers Swindon Town on Saturday.
They have Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane in the Capital One Cup this week and could be welcoming Manchester United to South Yorkshire in the FA Cup next month if both clubs win their respective replays against Preston North End and Cambridge United.
Nigel Clough sets up his team to play on the break and they defended stoutly at White Hart Lane last week to keep this tie in the balance – Andros Townsend’s second-half penalty the only thing that separated the sides – but now the emphasis is on United to take the game to their Premier League opponents.
Mauriccio Pochettino has had a good look at the underdogs and his squad has a wealth of European experience so should know how to defend a lead.
But other higher-ranked opponents have found it tough going at Bramall Lane – Southampton went out of the competition in the last round – and there will be a red-hot atmosphere inside the ground again, which is just as well as blizzards are forecast for the area just about the time the second half is due to kick-off.
Bob Harris, Stefan Scougall, Jamie Murphy, Michael Doyle and Jamal Campbell-Ryce could all be recalled to the United starting line-up having been rested in Saturday’s draw at Preston.
Marc McNulty, hero of the win over Southampton, might also be preferred in the lone striker’s role ahead of Michael Higdon.
Spurs left Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen out of the side that lost to Leicester in the FA Cup but all three should feature against the Blades.
An early goal for Tottenham would probably be game over and they have scored inside the first 20 minutes in three of their last four.
The visitors are 8/15 to score the first goal in this one and are 8/11 to win this second leg – they’ve won half of their away games in the Premier League season.
Though United have only conceded 11 goals at home in League One this season, they’ve only scored 14 and may struggle to overturn the first-leg deficit. Exactly two goals in the match is 51/20.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday, January 28th at Bramall Lane.