Long night in store at the Cottage

  • Last Updated: February 4 2014, 21:14 GMT

Ben Coley previews Tuesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay between Fulham and Sheffield United at Craven Cottage.

Steve Sidwell: One of few reliable scoring threats for Fulham
Steve Sidwell: One of few reliable scoring threats for Fulham

Fulham v Sheffield United (1945 GMT)

If you shop around, you can find prices for Fulham's top goalscorer this season.

The market is headed by Steve Sidwell, with new signing Kostas Mitroglou clear third-favourite at just 4/1 despite having yet to play let alone score. More than anything else, this underlines the problems faced at Craven Cottage as well as the problem with backing them at odds-on.

Quite simply, Rene Meulensteen lacks attacking options and while his side continue to defend like amateurs, they're going to struggle to keep their Premier League status alive.

At least Mitroglou can help in that regard, but he's ineligible for this FA Cup replay having been signed after the 1-1 draw at Brammall Lane.

That game was one Fulham were a tad fortunate to draw. Sheffield United looked in command thanks to Chris Porter's first-half goal, until Michael Doyle's red card allowed Fulham back into it.

Hugo Rodallega fired home the equaliser and with all four goals for Fulham having come in cup competitions, he's worth considering at 13/2 to open the scoring.

As touched upon, Fulham's attacking options are limited and if the Cottagers do break the deadlock it's likely to have come from Rodallega, Darren Bent (5/1) or even the aforementioned Sidwell (10/1).

United have previous in the competition having won at Aston Villa in the third round and, at 5/1, they'll again have their backers.

Given that they were shorter than 2/1 for the first clash and were the better side 11 v 11, there's arguably been an overreaction to their patchy League 1 form and the fact that they're away from home this time around.

Porter returned from injury at the weekend to provide a boost to Nigel Clough and if you can get past their awful away record in the league, the Blades make some sort of appeal given how low on confidence their opponents are.

However, there's nothing about either side that particular entices me and I can see this being very close, which makes the draw the value call.

Further to that, I'd be inclined to suggest that we could need penalties to solve this puzzle and small stakes on either side winning via a shootout is the advice although I must confess I approach this game with trepidation.

  • This game is being televised live in the UK on ITV4


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