Sheffield United vs. Aston Villa
FA Cup Round Three
@ Bramall Lane - Kick-Off: 3:00pm
Villa have been winners of this competition on seven occasions; 1887 (v West Bromwich Albion), 1895 (v West Bromwich Albion), 1897 (v Everton), 1905 (v Newcastle United), 1913 (v Sunderland), 1920 (v Huddersfield Town) and 1957 (v Manchester United).
They have also been denied victory at the last on three occasions, these occurred in; 1892 (v West Bromwich Albion), 1924 (v Newcastle United), 2000 (v Chelsea).
Domestically, the Birmingham based club had a respectable season last term; reaching the final of the Football League Cup only to be denied by a well managed Manchester United side (1-2) and also were semi-finalists in the FA Cup; beaten (0-3) by Chelsea.
The Villains flew past Blackburn Rovers (3-1) and Brighton & Hove Albion (3-2) in rounds three and four at Villa Park before requiring a replay against Crystal Palace after a 2-2 draw – even they needed two late penalties to win the tie (3-1).
John Carew netted a hat-trick on national television as a rejuvenated Claret and Blue side came from two goals down at half-time to beat Reading 4-2 at the Madejski Stadium to cannon themselves into the semi-finals.
Chelsea rail road the Villa Park club in the semis at Wembley – the Blues led one-nil (via Didier Drogba) until 89th minute when Florent Malouda and Frank Lampard netted to finish off the Valians – still, for the Midlands club it was a massive improvement as only a fortnight previous they had gone down 7-1 at Stamford Bridge.
That was under the regime of Martin O’Neil who shockingly left the club at the beginning of the season and was eventually replaced by former Liverpool boss Gerard Houlier.
Since Boxing Day the Villa have struggled in the league, recording defeats against Tottenham Hotspur (1-2), Manchester City (0-4), though they impressively drew 3-3 at Chelsea.
Aston Villa will be favourites to walk away with victory at Bramall Lane this weekend; however they will have less time to prepare for this FA Cup encounter having hosted Sunderland (lost 0-1) at Villa Park on Wednesday night.
The visitors are expected to be without Luke Young (knee), Andreas Weimann (ankle) and former Leeds United midfielder Fabian Delph (knee) for the trip to S2.
Striker Emile Heskey will also be suspended for this weekend's cup clash; he was sent off in the defeat to the Black cats in midweek and will now serve a three match ban - he could be replaced by John Carew.
In transfer news it has been reported that Villa are chasing the services of Tottenham Hotspur full-back Kyle Walker; should he sign for our opponents then he could play against his former club this weekend.
Expected Eleven: Friedel; Cuéllar, Dunne, Collins, Clark; Warnock, Reo-Coker, Petrov (c), Downing; Agbonlahor, Carew.