I tell you now, in the context of our season (and whilst doing my best Kevin Keegan impression) – this is still a big game for us, and I would love it if we won.
Remember a few years ago when Chelsea came to the Ricoh in the FA Cup Quarter Final? Of course you do, it’s just about the only time we’ve filled this stadium and felt close to something big.
This may not seem as prestigious, but when you’ve gone as long as we have without a sniff of success, you have to throw yourself at every opportunity that presents itself. Here we have a competition in which we only play teams we can realistically (and quite capably) beat; which results in a fancy trip to Wembley AND culminates in a not-quite-as-fancy but far more important trophy for the winners. What’s not to get immersed in?
So, which team is going to have the nerve to ruin our fun this time?
Welcome back, Sheffield United – quite possibly the best team in League One. Bit of a sod having to play them at this stage, but let’s power through.
How are they getting on?
No level of defiance can prevent me from conceding that Sheffield Utd are having a very impressive season. They went an almighty period of time without a league defeat, and while that run of form has plateaued to a more sensible level over the last month, they’ve still won four out of the last eight and generally come across as being pretty formidable.
The previous three weeks in the league have given them a bit of jip, but if you’re looking most recent form and momentum, take a look at the nature of their 2-1 FA Cup victory over Port Vale at the weekend. They’re going to be feeling pretty darn good about themselves.
It feels like months since we played them last, although that’s probably because it is. About three and a half, actually. They certainly cram the games in at this level.
Remember our opening home game in August? We took the lead, but once again were unable to cement any sort of advantage and were pegged back for a 1-1 draw. United didn’t seem too great back then, but neither did we. By necessity, both sides have matured since, and it could be a fascinating match up.
Who could cause us trouble?
Nick Blackman is top scorer with ten goals, and a mandatory threat because of it.
You can’t ignore Shaun Miller’s injury time brace against Port Vale, as he’ll no doubt look to kick on and add to his season’s tally of 7.
Former nuisance Michael Doyle makes his second return to the Ricoh of the season, and will be one to watch as he attempts to enforce himself on the game in his typically git-like style.
Speaking of nuisances, I feel obliged to remind you that Richard Cresswell also plays for them. He came off the bench in the previous game, and even though he’s managed just one goal all campaign, it’d be typical if he came on and made everyone cry.
Sky Blues team news
The win over Morecambe was on the verge of being a comfortable day at the office, but a sloppy final period of the game as we struggled to assert composure over proceedings made for a worrying finale.
The big decision Robins faces is whether to return Joe Murphy to the starting line-up following his absence. Chris Dunn came in and put in a solid and energetic performance in goal, which has at least helped to confirm the feeling that he is a capable alternative to Murphy if that’s ever required. I don’t think that’s the case just yet, though.
Gary McSheffrey scored his second in two games and is pretty much certain to accompany a returning David McGoldrick in our attack as we attempt to harness this return to usefulness. The only question mark is around the formation and how he might fit in with the other forward thinking attacker in our current system. Will he drift left and allow Moussa to float behind McGoldrick, or will he be the one to link up with main man?
It is the cup though, so there’s always the potential for Robins to throw a change into the mix. I can’t see it, mind. Especially if this quote is any signal of his intentions:
I’ll field a side who I think will help us progress. We’re in it to try and win the game and pick a side who’s going to go on and do it in the right way, play in the right way.
As with Burton Albion earlier this season, I’m thinking it’ll go straight to penalties in this one. It’s the only scenario I can think about. I have visions of Richard Wood stomping up to slam home the decisive penalty in gritty ex-Sheffield Wednesday fashion.
Let’s say 1-1 after 90 minutes, followed by another penalty marathon.