Match Time: 6/28/2020 20:00 Sunday(GMT+8)
Two sides still vying for a finish among the European places in the Premier League will lock horns in the FA Cup quarter finals as Sheffield United prepare to welcome Arsenal to Bramall Lane on Sunday lunchtime. The clubs have already faced off in South Yorkshire once this term - with Sheffield United coming out trumps courtesy of a Lys Mousset winner in October.
For all the promise that Sheffield United showed before the sporting calendar was devastated by the coronavirus outbreak, Chris Wilder's side have become a shadow of their former selves since the Premier League returned to action. The Blades are yet to register a goal yet alone a win since the restart, with a goalless stalemate at Aston Villa followed up by consecutive 3-0 defeats against Newcastle United and Manchester United. Nevertheless, Wilder's side are still in a strong position for a European spot as they lie eighth on 44 points, but their attention now turns to the FA Cup as they look to reach the semi finals for the first time since the 2013-14 season. The Blades have lifted the FA Cup four times in their history, but their most recent success was 95 years ago when they defeated Cardiff City 1-0 in the 1924-25 final. Since then, Sheffield United have only managed to reach the final on one occasion, where rather ironically the Blades lost to Arsenal by a goal to nil in the 1935-36 campaign. Wilder's men defeated Flyde, Millwall and Reading to reach the last eight – already a huge improvement on last season where they were knocked out by Barnet in the third round.
Arsenal have hardly resumed the campaign in better fashion, although the Gunners managed to pick up a vital three points with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Southampton on Thursday evening. Mikel Arteta's men had suffered back-to-back defeats away to Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion since the top flight resumed, but the Gunners have kept their slim hopes of Champions League qualification alive following goals from Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock on the South Coast. However, the FA Cup arguably represents Arteta's best chance at bringing European football back to the Emirates faithful, and Arsenal are still on course for a record 14th triumph in the competition. Arsene Wenger famously ended his nine-year trophy drought with victory in the 2014 final, and the Frenchman led the Gunners to two more triumphs in 2015 and 2017 before stepping down from his post. Arsenal have not fared as well recently in the competition, though, with Nottingham Forest and Man Utd both knocking the Gunners out before the fifth round stage in the past two seasons. The North London outfit enjoyed victories over Leeds United, Bournemouth and Portsmouth to reach the last eight, and for all their defensive troubles in recent times, Arsenal have only shipped one goal in the tournament thus far.
Sheffield United FA Cup form: WWW
Sheffield United form (all competitions): DWWDLL
Arsenal FA Cup form: WWW
Arsenal form (all competitions): LWWLLW
There is expected to be rotation on both ends with the two clubs still in contention for a top-seven finish in the Premier League. Wilder is hopeful of having Jack O'Connell back in the fold for Sunday's game, with the defender having not featured since the restart due to injury. John Egan and Dean Henderson are also in line for starting roles after missing out against Man United through suspension and ineligibility respectively. Mousset was forced to depart early in the defeat at Old Trafford with an ankle complaint, but the striker is expected to be fit in time for the weekend.
Arteta still has several players on the treatment table, however, with Pablo Mari, Bernd Leno, Gabriel Martinelli, Lucas Torreira and Calum Chambers all unavailable. David Luiz is back in the fold following his suspension, but Sunday's game could come too soon for January arrival Cedric Soares to make his long-awaited debut for the Gunners. Kieran Tierney was forced off with cramp against Southampton but could play a part here, while Willock, Reiss Nelson and Alexandre Lacazette are all vying for spots in the first XI.
Sheffield United possible starting lineup: Henderson; Basham, Egan, O'Connell; Baldock, Freeman, Norwood, Besic, Osborn; McBurnie, Sharp
Arsenal possible starting lineup: Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Holding, Saka; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Nelson, Willock, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Sheffield United VS Arsenal
Handicap Pick: Arsenal-0.25