News and Views

FA Cup: Biggest Game Of Season

03 March 2020
By Hob Nob Anyone?

With Reading's league season effectively over - we are highly unlikely to challenge the top six or drop into the bottom three - even manager Mark Bowen thinks tonight's FA Cup game is a big night for his side: "It's probably the biggest game of the season for us, because there is a quarter-final place at stake." Reading have a very tough challenge against Premier League Sheffield United at the Madejski Stadium. The visitors have been flying high in the top tier of English football and currently sit 8th in the League with European qualification to chase. If they were to win their game in hand they would move up to 5th and just two points behind Chelsea in fourth.

Reading fans will hope that the Blades might be concentrating on the League with everything to play for. However, Sheffield United had no game at the weekend and have only played three matches over the last month. That may mean that tonight's match is a good opportunity to give players some game time as they prepare for Saturday's game against Norwich City. Those three games saw United win against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace and pick up a point against Brighton. They are unlikely to field many fringe players and Reading are likely to be facing a team that is capable of matching the best in the Premier League. It could well be a difficult night for the Royals are the Blades are firm favouries to progress to the quarter finals.

As of last season there are no replays in the FA Cup fifth round, which means the game must be settled tonight. That could mean extra time and penalties if the Royals manage to match the Blades over ninety minutes.

Liam Moore was missing at the weekend as the Royals defeated Barnsley 2-0 in a much improved performance to the home defeat against Wigan last week. His illness has cleared up and he will be back in contention in the centre of defence. Reading manager Mark Bowen may choose to stick with the pairing of Miazga and Morrison who looked effective on Saturday. Bowen will also have to decide if he will stuck with George Puscas up front or feature Sam Baldock. Puscas scored a very well taken goal at the weekend and will be expecting to keep his place in the starting eleven. Lucas Joao is back training but is still not match fit.

Sheffield United's team will probably include former Reading player Oliver Norwood who has looked really good in their midfield this season. Manager Chris Wilder does have some options to mix up his team but has suggested he will be putting out a strong side.

Reading have lost all of their last four games against Sheffield United, with our most recent meeting in February last year seeing Sheffield United secure a 4-0 home win. In those four games the Blades have scored 11 goals with the Royals finding the net just twice. However, there is some positive news - our last FA Cup game against them was a 4-0 home victory in 2013 with Noel Hunt getting two and Leigertwood and McCleary on the scoresheet. We'd settle for another win and McCleary getting in on the goals again.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased on-line now. It could be a good evening's football with Reading hopefully giving it a real go - so come on down the Madejski Stadium and support your team.

Recent Meetings With Sheffield United

16 February 2019 Sheff Utd (Away) Championship L: 0-4 Report... 26513 21
08 December 2018 Sheff Utd (HOME) Championship L: 0-2 Report... 12066 22
27 February 2018 Sheff Utd (HOME) Championship L: 1-3 Report... 6769 18 O Richards
21 October 2017 Sheff Utd (Away) Championship L: 1-2 Report... 26265 20 R Beerens
26 January 2013 Sheff Utd (HOME) FA Cup W: 4-0 Report... 14715 - N Hunt, M Leigertwood, N Hunt, G McCleary
25 April 2011 Sheff Utd (HOME) Championship L: 2-3 Report... -
15 February 2011 Sheff Utd (Away) Championship D: 1-1 Report... -
26 January 2010 Sheff Utd (Away) Championship L: 0-3 Report... -

Share this article: