Sheffield United will begin their run in the 2020 FA Cup this Sunday, entering in the 3rd round of the tournament to take on National League side AFC Fylde.
The Blades do come into this contest on the back of two straight losses, but those did come in brutal environments.
It started with a defeat at the Etihad Stadium versus Manchester City. Things started off well, as United absorbed plenty of pressure, but that changed in the second half.
The referee literally got involved in proceedings, blocking the path of John Fleck and causing a turnover that eventually led to the opening goal of the game from Sergio Aguero. City added another one late through Kevin De Bruyne, and the Blades just could not muster a comeback on the night.
While refereeing decisions cost them in that game, personal errors cost them at Anfield against Liverpool. George Baldock inexplicably fell over for no reason at the back, gifting an easy goal to Mohamad Salah.
A fortunate bounce then allowed Sadio Mane to double the advantage. United really should have grabbed one back, but Oli McBurnie fluffed up a simple tap in at the back post, and the Blades were left with zero points from those two games.
Although they still have been good this season, the same cannot be said for AFC Fylde.
They are in the midst of a fight for survival, currently sat in 21st place in the National League. The Coasters are winless in their last four as well, which is a remarkable change from last year when they lost in the promotion playoff to Salford City.
Fylde has had success in the FA Cup at least, making it to this stage, and will look to cause a shocking upset on the afternoon.
This matchup is set to be a historic one, as it will be the first time these two sides have ever faced off.
United don’t have to worry about any injuries or suspensions, luckily, but manager Chris Wilder has admitted that he will likely name an entirely new starting eleven due to fatigue following the hectic holiday period.
Fylde will only be without midfielder Matty Kosylo, who was sent off in the teams last game versus Barrow.
Sheffield United: Verrips, Jagielka, Bryan, Stearman, Freeman, Morrison, Osborn, Besic, Holmes, Clarke, Sharp
AFC Fylde: Hornby, Burke, Byrne, Whitmore, Jameson, Montrose, Croasdale, Philliskirk, Bradley, Rowe, Williams
Who will feature for the Blades
As mentioned prior, United boss Wilder has already told the media to expect wholesale changes to the starting lineup on Sunday. Now, for fans, the challenge will be figuring out who will get a chance in the team vs Fylde.
Summer signing Michael Verrips has yet to feature since joining the club, and might finally make his debut on Sunday. Richard Stearman scored in the Carabao Cup earlier on in the campaign, so not letting him play once again would be harsh.
Ravel Morrison has yet to feature in the Premier League this season, but this contest could be his chance to prove his ability to Wilder. Luke Freeman and Muhamed Besic will likely join him in the midfield, as they’ve been forced to settle for cameos off the bench this campaign.
Up top, veteran forward Leon Clarke should come in to feature a bit. His potential partner is tougher to figure out, but giving Billy Sharp the chance to break his scoring curse in an easier game could be a good idea.
Whoever does start, the Blades will still expect to win and advance to the next round, potentially kickstarting a deep FA Cup run.