LEAGUE One side Sheffield United look to continue their remarkable Cup record on Wednesday night. They face Tottenham in this Capital One Cup semi-final first leg. What's the bet Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79)?
Tottenham v Sheffield United | Wednesday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
Not sure how I'd feel if I was a Sheffield United fan at the moment. The biggest side in League One? I'd say so, even though they lie outside the play-off zone with a third of their games ending in defeat. Their Cup record though has much to admire.
Yes, Nigel Clough's side reached the FA Cup semi-finals last season and have now made the last four of the League Cup this time round. Clough has been the architect of some amazing performances from the Yorkshire side. Their record against Premier League teams in cup competitions since he took over is P7 W5 D1 L1. That's mightily impressive.
This game though against Tottenham will undoubtedly be their biggest test yet when you look at their previous five victims. Fulham (ended up getting relegated), QPR (awful in cup competitions), Aston Villa (ha ha ha), West Ham (played back in August this season before they found form) and Southampton (caught them on a four match losing run last month).
Okay, I'm being really harsh there, but there is an element of truth in it. Bar Southampton I doubt many of the Premier League managers would have cared too much about those losses. When the stakes got really high and the Premier League clubs started to care, Sheffield United lost. Again though, they gave Hull a real fright at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals last April before losing 5-3.
What an opportunity this is for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino, just months into the job, has a great chance of reaching a Cup Final. Spurs do suffer the odd blip (Crystal Palace the week before last anyone?) but they're becoming increasingly less frequent. There's evidence to suggest that the former Southampton manager is getting to grips with this job and seven wins in their last 10 matches deserves respect.
Spurs have scored in nine of their last 10 matches and banged in 11 from their last three home matches. I'm pretty confident they can increase that number here. With so much at stake I expect them to be too strong for the League One club and win by more than one goal.
United may well be awkward for Tottenham initially in this match but I can them succumbing and Pochettino's side to lay down a strong marker going into the second leg. This is a massive opportunity for the club and I'd be hugely surprised if they mess this up. I'll back them -1.5 on Bet 365's Asian Handicap market at odds-against 43/40. They need to win by more than one goal for it pay out, but I'm confident that will occur.
Tottenham v Sheffield United – Tottenham -1.5 Asian Handicap (43/40 Bet365)