FA Cup: Manchester United vs Sheffield United - Preview, Live stream and TV channel info, Team News, Prediction, Betting odds
This Saturday witnesses the third Round of the oldest association football tournament in history i.e. the FA Cup kicking-off. Predictably enough, there are a few mismatches, with 64 teams still bidding to lift the coveted prize. One such fixture is Manchester United hosting third division side Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Saturday.
On paper, it appears to be a routine victory for the Red Devils. However, United’s barren run of form gives the Blades just that little glimmer of hope to defy the odds and dominate the headlines with a shock result against the 11-time FA Cup holders. With Sheffield United 47 places below their opponents in the Football League table, can they play their part in ratcheting up the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal on Saturday evening?
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Channel: Sony SIX
Kick-Off : Saturday, 9 January 2016 – 23:00 IST (17:30 BST)
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United will not be fielding the recalled Adnan Januzaj due to lack of match fitness. Centre-back Phil Jones also misses this game with a hamstring niggle, but Jesse Lingard is available for selection after recovering from injury that kept him off action for a month. Ashley Young is likely to be given a break after four successive 90-minute appearances. Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia are long-term absentees from the squad.
Sheffield United will be boosted by the return of striker Matt Done following a hamstring injury. Manager Nigel Adkins must decide whether to rotate his squad as his side – in contention for a play-off place – face a key league fixture against Wigan Athletic three days after this game.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Manchester United: After a horror run which saw United go winless in eight games, Van Gaal finally tasted victory with a narrow 2-1 win over Swansea. However, with Pep Guardiola expressing his desire to manage a club in the Premier League, Van Gaal knows that the pressure is still very much on him to challenge for trophies in order for him to retain his position on the hot-seat.
While the defence has been upto the mark, it is their poor finishing that has cost them points this season. Wayne Rooney – despite his back-flick winner – was once again guilty of missing a host of good chances against the Swans, while Van Gaal’s reluctance to deploy Anthony Martial up front leaves fans nonplussed.
The dominance in midfield with the presence of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger seems redundant without the finishing touch in the attacking third, and United must improve or invest in that part of the field if they want to challenge for trophies this season. After all, it is the goals – not a good performance – which earns a side victory.
Last 5 games (All Competitions) : L-L-L-D-W (Last match: Manchester United 2-1 Swansea)
Sheffield United: A narrow home defeat to Peterbrough in their last outing was just a minor blip in Sheffield United’s good run of form – they were unbeaten in their previous five games and conceded just twice during that run. Striker Billy Sharp has been in amazing touch of late – scoring 4 times in as many games – and is expected to create a couple of issues for the United backline.
The midfield duo of Paul Coutts and Chris Basham have been solid as well, committing to vital tackles to shield their defence, while passing the ball around confidently to send the attacking quartet on their way.
History also favours the Blades as far as cup performances are cocerned – they have overcome Premier League sides away from Bramall Lane in third round ties in each of the previous two editions – Aston Villa (1-2) and QPR (0-3) being on the receiving ends in 2014 and 2015 respectively. A third victory in succession at this stage of the competition, especially against Manchester United, will definitely spark scenes of wild celebration amongst the players and fans.
Last 5 games (All Competitions): W-W-W-W-L (lAST MATCH: Sheffield United 2-3 Peterborough)
- Manchester United have won their last 6 games against Sheffield United in all competitions
- Sheffield United’s last victory at Old Trafford came on Boxing Day in 1973 – a 2-1 victory in the old Division One
- The Blades have lost just one out of their last 6 games (W4, D1) and are unbeaten away from home (excluding penalty shootouts) since 31 October
- Nigel Adkins’ side have won 5 and lost just one out of their last 6 cup fixtures against higher-ranked opposition
- The Red Devils have lost just once in 36 FA Cup ties against lower-league sides, a 0-1 reverse to League One Leeds United at this stage of the competition 6 years ago.
Chris Smalling vs Billy Sharp
Striker Billy Sharp has been in great form for a Sheffield United side chasing promotion to the Championship, scoring 11 times for the Blades – including 4 in his last 4 outings. The former Southampton striker possesses the instincts of a striker, his pace and deft first touch causing opposition defences problems aplenty.
Though Chris Smalling has come up against higher calibre striking forces, he will be equally wary of the threat Sharp brings to the pitch, and he will have to maintain his focus and marshall his defence for 90 minutes to prevent the 29-year-old from making a decisive impact on the game.
Sheffield United – playing under a manager with Premier League experience – are not expected to sit back and invite one-way traffic throughout the match. The Blades will definitely go for the kill against a United side under some pressure from irate Old Trafford fans. But the difference in class is ultimately bound to reveal itself in the latter stages of the game. A routine Manchester United victory will ease some of Louis van Gaal’s nerves amidst disapproval of his tactics from critics across the globe.
Manchester United 3-1 Sheffield United
Man Utd – 1/3
Draw – 9/2
Sheff Utd – 10/1