Tottenham Hotspur vs.Sheffield United

Last updated : 21 January 2015 By @blades_mad1889

The Blades are no strangers to the last four of the League Cup having already reached this stage during the triple assault season in 2002/03 - that season the Blades lost to eventual winners Liverpool. Since the arrival of Nigel Clough as manger in October 2013 the Blades have re-emerged themselves has classic cup underdogs. They reached the semi-final of the FA Cup last season after being top flight clubs; Aston Villa and Fulham but were narrowly beaten at Wembley in the last four.

The League Cup isn't a competition which United have excelled themselves in but after wins over Mansfield Town (2-1), West Ham United (1-1, won on penalties), Leyton Orient (1-0), MK Dons (2-1) and Southampton (1-0) the S2 club have see themselves progress into the semis of the League Cup. They have already beaten QPR in the FA Cup 3-0 and they hope on adding Tottenham Hotspur to their list of cup scalps.

United come into their first leg tie at White Hart Lane following a poor performance and a 1-0 defeat to MK Dons - a result which leaves them 7th in the League One table. Carl Baker's second-half strike proved to be the difference as MK Dons returned to winning ways with 1-0 victory over fellow promotion-chasers Sheffield United. Karl Robinson's side had not won since Boxing Day but completed the league double over the Blades to climb back above Preston into third place. Former Coventry winger Baker produced the first effort of the game for the home side in the 16th minute but his left-footed strike whizzed just wide.

Baker threatened again after 42 minutes, but his powerful shot proved easy pickings for Mark Howard in the Blades' goal. Jamal Campbell-Ryce should have given the visitors the lead just before the break when a long clearance sailed into his path, but his poked effort was blocked by Dons goalkeeper David Martin.

Blades teenager Louis Reed threatened minutes after the restart with a fizzing shot that arrowed wide, but Baker hit the only goal in the 67th minute, surging through after good hold-up play from Will Grigg to smash home his fifth of the season. The Dons never really looked threatened after Baker's striker as they held on for the victory which drops the Blades out of the play-off spots on goal difference.

Blades boss Nigel Clough will welcome back defender/midfielder Chris Basham after he completed a three match ban following his sending off at Port Vale on Boxing Day. He is likely to be re-installed as centre-half with Academy player Terry Kennedy placed on the substitute's bench. Striker Marc McNulty, who has scored twice in his last three games is likely to start upfront as lone-striker with Michael Higdon on the bench. Meanwhile they are without Winger Ryan Flynn (Achilles) and keeper Iain Turner (hamstring) due to injury.

Ahead of tonight's game Nigel Clough said; "For a League One club to reach Wembley twice within 12 months in both major cup competitions would be fantastic. We enjoyed it so much when we went there in the FA Cup semi-final against Hull last season but to get there for a final - it's incredible stuff."

Blades Possible Line-Up (4-5-1)


Alcock - Basham - McEverley - Harris

Campbell-Ryce - Baxter - Scougall- Doyle - Murphy


Tottenham Hotspur are perhaps having the best season for many of years. They are gunning for a European spot in the Premier League whilst in the FA Cup they defeated Burnley (4-2) in a replay and will host Leicester City this weekend in round 4. They still remain in the Europa League and will face Italian side Fiorentina in the first knock-out stages of the competition next month. It is due to this European involvement that they entered the League Cup at round 3 and were given the beneficial of playing at home in all rounds of the competition. To date they have beaten; Nottingham Forest (2-1), Brighton & Hove Albion (2-0) and recently Newcastle United (4-0) to reach the semis.

The Lilywhites have won the competition on four occasions; 1971 (Aston Villa), 1973 (Norwich City), 1999 (Leicester City) and 2008 (Chelsea). They have also been losing finalists; 1982 (Liverpool), 2002 (Blackburn Rovers) and in 2009 (Manchester United). There victory in 1971 gave them a place in Europe - the first time the competition allowed a team to do so.

They remain 5th in the Barclay's Premier League table despite beating Sunderland by a single goal margin last weekend prior to tonight's fixture in London. Jermain Defoe was unable to continue his remarkable run of marking club debuts with a goal as Sunderland suffered a last-gasp defeat at former club Tottenham. Just 11 months after leaving White Hart Lane for Toronto FC, the 32-year-old returned to his old stomping ground after completing a move to the north-east strugglers on the eve of this match. Defoe received a warm reception in north London but left frustrated, with Christian Eriksen's late strike - his third in as many games against Sunderland - securing Spurs a 2-1 win in the dying minutes.

Mauricio Pochettino's side had looked like they would be frustrated as wayward finishing and an impressive display from Costel Pantilimon saw them struggle to add to Jan Vertonghen's early strike, which came via a large deflection off John O'Shea. The Belgium international was soon back at the heart of the action, hacking down Defoe to give former Arsenal midfielder Sebastian Larsson the chance to curl home a wonderful equaliser.

That was Defoe's most telling contribution, as he failed to make Sunderland the sixth club with whom he marked his league debut with a goal. The man who replaced him in the second half, Danny Graham, was twice was denied Hugo Lloris - chances which came either side of the match-winning 88th-minute strike by Eriksen.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino could tinker with the side which beat the Black Cats last weekend. Former Arsenal and Manchester City forward Emmanuel Adebayor could start his first game since November whilst Ben Davies, Paulinho and Andros Townsend could all be included in the squad to face the Blades. They are however without Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria), who is away on International duty and duo Erik Lamela (calf) and Ryan Mason (hamstring) are doubtful.

Meanwhile England defender Kyle Walker is likley to start against his former club. He played just nine games for the Blades between January and May 2009 before completing a joint transfer (along with Kyle Naughton) to Tottenham for £8,000,000 that summer. As part of the deal he returned on loan until February 2010 where he made 27 (+1) appearances for his hometown club.

Tonight's fixture could be a stern test for Spurs who have a busy January, this meeting will be their sixth of nine games played throughout the month but the Argentine national is positive ahead of the visit of Sheffield United; "Our fitness is very good," Pochettino said. "The club believes that is very important - the sports science and medical staff have done a great job so far. And also our mentality... you have to always believe it is possible to win the game," the Argentine added.

Spurs Possible Line-Up (4-2-3-1):


Walker - Fazio - Vertonghen - Rose

Kane - Dembele

Paulinho - Eriksen - Stambouli


Blades-Mad Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Sheffield United 0

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