Saints should get back to winning ways in Capital One QF in Steel City
A player has been sent off in each of the last three meetings between Sheffield United and Southampton, but these two teams that have the same home kit of red and white stripes, will want to keep discipline and be looking to their cup pedigree to progress in the Capital One Cup.
Coral naturally make the hosting Blades, who hail from League One’s promotion scene, rank outsiders to lift this trophy at 50/1, while Ronald Koeman’s Saints and top four hopefuls are 9/2 to win the League Cup outright.
Despite a run of no win in five, it is the gulf in class of two tiers in English league football which gives visiting Southampton their status of odds-on favourites both to win this tie in 90 minutes (8/15) and to qualify for the semis (1/4).
Like home side Sheffield United, they are currently fifth in their division, and three of their six goals in this competition have come from top scorer Graziano Pelle, but he serves a suspension here. That gives 11/2 match outsiders United (who are 11/4 to qualify from the tie) some hope.
Nigel Clough’s Blades are unbeaten in major domestic cup competitions this calendar year, apart from their FA Cup semi-final loss to Hull City on the neutral and hallowed turf of Wembley. Aston Villa and West Ham are among the scalps taken by the Steel City side in 2014. Odds for a draw, which, in the League Cup means extra time and possibly penalties, is a 3/1 chance.
Veteran striker Michael Higdon has done most for United in this particular cup run, and he is an 11/4 chance to add to his three goals so far at any time. Jose Baxter is the same price in that market, after converting a couple of penalties in the Blades’ last home game.
Diminutive Scottish forward pair Marc McNulty (9/4) and Stefan Scougall (11/2) are also scorer chances for the hosts. In Pelle’a absence, punters that have plumped for Southampton can count on Shane Long. He netted in the Saints’ win at Stoke in the previous round, and is 6/5 to do so again, or a better 9/5 in a wincast.
Koeman may be tempted to use the fruits of the prestigious academy the south coast club has here. Young forwards Ryan Seager and Sam Gallagher, who had first-team exposure last term under Mauricio Pochettino, are the same price as Long.
Winger Sam McQueen (11/4 in the anytime market) and the returning James Ward-Prowse (11/2) should also play some part at Bramall Lane. Given the porous nature of Southampton’s defence in recent outings, back an away win with both teams scoring at 27/10.