Reading vs Sheffield United Preview: Blades look to advance to FA Cup quarter-finals
Photo by Alex Pantling via Getty Images

After having this past weekend off, Sheffield United return to action on Tuesday night. The Blades will take on Reading in the FA Cup Fifth Round at the Madejski Stadium.

United got to this stage after beating Millwall on the road over a month ago. It was a tight affair early, with the home side actually creating the better chances. However, they couldn’t find the back of the net, and were ultimately made to pay for their poor finishing.

The Blades would take the lead courtesy of an unlikely scorer, as it was Muhamed Bešić who broke the deadlock on the afternoon. Cutting inside from the right wing, the Bosnian curled a shot that flew into the top corner, past the outstretched arms of the keeper.

The tie would be put to bed with five minutes to go. Billy Sharp dribbled forward before laying off a pass to Oliver Norwood on the edge of the area, who slammed a first-time shot into the bottom corner. United would hold on to secure the clean sheet, booking their spot into the 5th round as a result.

Reading, on the other hand, defeated fellow Championship side Cardiff City in a truly crazy cup contest.

The Royals would find themselves down two goals at the hour mark, as Josh Murphy gave Cardiff the lead before Robert Glatzel found the back of the net early on in the second half.

They managed to pull off the comeback, however. Omar Richards pulled one back in the 69th minute, setting the stage for Andy Rinomhota to equalize with 10 minutes to go.

Regulation came to an end with the two teams tied, which forced overtime. The Bluebirds would once again take the lead through another goal from Murphy, but Reading levelled the scoring near the end courtesy of Yakou Meite.

A penalty shootout was needed to decide a winner. Reading keeper Sam Walker would be the hero, saving Aden Flint’s attempt at the start before Will Vaulks hit the crossbar with his effort. 

Sone Aluko would slot home the decisive pen, sending the Royals into the 5th round as a result.

Last time out

It’s been just over a year since these two sides last faced off back in the Championship. The Blades were the winners on that day, smashing Reading 4-0 at Bramall Lane.

They would open the scoring in the very first minute, as Kieron Freeman slid in to convert a low cross from Mark Duffy. United would make it two only 15 minutes later, as a loose ball fell to Gary Madine in the area, who then smashed a shot into the back of the net.

Madine grabbed his brace moments before the halftime break in similar fashion, as he pounced on a rebound before rifling the ball past the keeper. 

John Fleck would get in on the fun, as his shot from distance deflected before making its way across the goal line, giving the Blades their fourth  of the game.

They had no issue closing the contest out, securing the three points with relative ease. United would eventually finish second in the Championship, earning automatic promotion to the Premier League, while Reading ended their season only seven points ahead of the relegation zone.

Predicted lineups

Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Miazga, Morrison, Obita, Meite, Rinomhota, Swift, Ejaria, Olise, Puscas

Sheffield United: Verrips, Restos, Jagielka, Basham, Osborn, L Freeman, Lundstram, Bešić, K Freeman, Mousset, Zivkovic

What to watch for

Who comes in for United?

Blades boss Chris Wilder has publicly stated that he’s taking this tournament seriously, but it’s unlikely he’ll name a full first choice starting lineup on Tuesday. He’ll like to get his star names some rest, while also giving the chance to some depth players who have found minutes hard to come by in recent weeks.

Panagiotis Retsos and Richairo Zivkovic have yet to make their United debuts since joining the club in January, but both will probably feature at some point against Milwall.

Muhamed Bešić was the hero last time out in the FA Cup, but hasn’t played since that game due to the arrival of Sander Berge. The Bosnian has made the most of his opportunities in the past, so expect him to be very motivated, as he needs to prove himself once again.

Veteran centre-back Phil Jagielka could get some minutes in order to keep him active, while Leon Clarke could also get involved, especially if the result has already been decided near the end of the contest.

Wilder knows he can rely on each and every player in the squad when need be, so even though it won’t be the first choice lineup, the Blades will still be rolling out a very strong team on Tuesday.