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Can Sheffield United shock Fulham?

| 25.01.2014

Nigel Clough could be excused for being no lover of the FA Cup, having been on the losing side when Spurs beat Nottingham Forest, managed by his dad Brian, in the 1991 Wembley final.

That was the infamous match in which Paul Gascoigne could have been sent off twice in the opening period after wild tackles which instead resulted in the Tottenham star being stretchered off with a serous leg injury.

But not a bit of it. Clough is an FA Cup romantic and would love to give Sheffield United fans more glorious memories of the competition when his League One outfit line up against Fulham on Sunday.

Coral go 17/10 the Blades follow up their fabulous 2-1 win at Aston Villa in Round 3 by taking another Premiership scalp, while Fulham are priced at 7/4 (12/5 the draw).

Clough has previous as a manager when it comes to giving the big boys a scare, perhaps his finest hour coming in 2006 when Burton Albion, then below mid-table in the Conference, held Manchester United to a goalless daw in Round 3.

Sheffield United have won the FA Cup four times, but not since 1925, and have struggled to such a degree in recent years that they now find themselves perilously close to the relegation zone in the third tier.

Just one point from their last three games is hardly the form Clough, who took over in October after losing his job at Derby County, will have been hoping for, but his players seemed to welcome the distraction of the Cup at Villa Park and we can be sure they will be up for it again.

Whether Fulham will be busting a gut to the same extent remains to be seen. It’s a much bigger deal, financially at least, if the Cottagers are relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season (evens with Coral) and coach Rene Meulensteen will surely have one eye very much on Tuesday’s important League fixture at Swansea.

You have to wonder whether Fulham have a good enough squad to survive wholesale changes against such single-minded opposition.

The closest Fulham ever came to winning the FA Cup was when they lost the 1975 final to West Ham and they have never beaten Sheffield United in the competition in five attempts – a sequence which may well be extended. Coral go 17/2 it finishes 1-0 and 9/1 it ends 2-1.

Chelsea (1/4) face Stoke (11/1) in the only all-Premiership tie of the round and Jose Mourinho does have the strength in depth at Stamford Bridge to tinker with his squad and still get through to Round 5.






Jon Freeman