Our Sheffield United blogger, Jason King, looks ahead to this weekend’s FA Cup 5th Round clash with Nottingham Forest.
Following the wet and windy conditions that forced officials to call of Wednesday’s showdown against table topping Brentford, the Blades are now facing the prospect of midweek fixtures for the next six weeks as they look to progress in the FA Cup and maintain their League one status.
This weekend, at least, United can put their poor league position to one side as Nigel Clough’s side will look forward to welcoming Nottingham Forest to Bramall Lane in FA Cup on Sunday . United will have to deal with an in form Forest who brushed aside fellow Yorkshire side Huddersfield Town in mid-week in a comfortable 3-0 win.
One man the Blades will have to content with is former Tottenham and ex Sheffield United loanee midfielder Andy Reid, who netted for Forest in that glorious play off semi-final win back in 2003.
Talking of 2003, it was the same years that the Blades last had a real good go at the FA Cup, reaching the semi-finals only to be denied by a Freddie Ljungberg strike and a wonderful save by then, England number 1, David Seaman.
Therefore Saturday poses a real chance for United to reach the quarter final of the world’s oldest football competition.
Being only two games away from Wembley is a nice distraction when you compare it to a very forgettable season otherwise. Whilst, of course, survival for the Blades is a must, you can’t understate the importance of the FA Cup can hold to the prospects of United this season, and next.
Just look at what Gus Poyet has done at Sunderland, their cup run has really stimulated the players which have reflected in their current league form.
Clough must see this has an opportunity, not only to highlight United’s credentials as a sleeping giant of English football but to really kick start their season and pull away from the relegation fodder that they find themselves in.
Clough’s men have already put two Premier League sides to the sword this season and I see no reason why they can’t cause Forest problems on Saturday.
The Blades will be looking to Jose Baxter to inspire after a very creative performance last time out against Shrewsbury. As long as United can be as resolute as they were in their previous two FA Cup games then we can look forward to a very competitive tie on Sunday.