Blades cup record will see them through Fulham FA Cup replay
Sheffield United have never lost an FA Cup tie against Fulham.
These two sides, second bottom of League One and occupying the Premier League basement respectively, will fight to a finish at Craven Cottage in a fourth round replay on Tuesday.
Rene Meulensteen fielded a weakened XI in the original tie at Bramall Lane and fell behind to Chris Porter’s opener. Blades captain Michael Doyle was then sent off and Hugo Rodallega equalised for Fulham.
Given that Sheffield United have won four and drawn their other two cup meetings with the west Londoners, odds of 5/1 on an away win are well worth taking.
Why? Because although the Blades have the worst record on their travels in League One, this appalling form has not crossed over into the FA Cup.
Nigel Clough’s side have won on the road in every previous round, including knocking out Premier League club Aston Villa.
Sheffield United have also held the lead in four of their last six matches at half time, however, and still failed to win three of those.
Punters unconvinced by the Blades’ cup pedigree may thus fancy odds of 12/1 on them throwing away whatever advantage they might establish before the interval in the second half. The 11/5 price on Sheffield United scoring first, meanwhile, should be snapped up as they’ve done in six of the last seven matches.
Neither team comes into this replay in any sort of form as both lost 3-0 in their respective divisions at the weekend. Fulham are odds-on to advance to round five at 8/13, while a draw in 90 minutes is 4/5.
Fulham have cleared out three players that were in their match-day squad for the original tie and also lost Dimitar Berbatov on deadline-day to Monaco.
Furthermore, Meulensteen will have to field a new pairing at centre back as Philippe Senderos has joined Valencia and Aaron Hughes is now on loan at Championship promotion hopefuls QPR.
Maverick Moroccan Adel Taarabt, who came off the bench against Sheffield United, meanwhile, has switched to AC Milan. Meulensteen also has injury doubts over defensive trio John Arne Riise (hamstring), Matthew Briggs (hernia) and Fernando Amorebieta (knee).
To make matters worse for Fulham, FA rules state that a player must be eligible in the original tie in order to feature in the replay. That means holding midfielder William Kvist and deadline-day signings Larnell Cole, Johnny Heitinga, Lewis Holtby, Kostas Mitroglou and Ryan Tunnicliffe must all sit this one out.
Meulensteen may unleash Rodallega on the Blades again as the Colombian frontman has scored four FA and League Cup goals in three appearances this term. Rodallega is 11/10 to score at anytime.
Fulham did keep a rare home clean sheet in the last-round replay win over Norwich and are 23/20 for another shut-out here.
Clough, meanwhile, will be without suspended midfielder Doyle and striker Porter may be missing with a niggling hamstring problem. As so many names are unavailable to Fulham, Sheffield United will fancy their chances and it only reinforces how attractive the 5/1 price is for an away win.