Blades and Owls have so much to prove in FA Cup

Time to shine: United must overcome JP Trophy blues.
Time to shine: United must overcome JP Trophy blues.
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This weekend sees the return of the FA Cup, with both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday looking to progress into the second round of the famous competition. United take to the stage first on Saturday with a 3pm kick off at home to League Two Oxford United.

Both teams had a very disappointing evening on Tuesday when they were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the quarter-final stage.

United will feel more aggrieved at their cup exit after a penalty shootout loss to Bradford - the same team who beat neighbours Wednesday earlier in the competition.

Wilson’s men went one up through Matt Phillips but were pegged back just before half time, and the game stayed that way until Chris Mitchell scored the decisive spot-kick after Erik Tonne had missed for United.

Oxford on the other hand, lost 1-0 at home to Southend United in an ill-tempered game, which saw three players sent off. Oxford were reduced to ten men after just 12 minutes when goalkeeper Wayne Brown was sent off, leaving midfielder Asa Hall to take over between the sticks. Just three minutes later, his first action was to pick the ball out of the net from a free kick by another Hall, Ryan. Both teams lost a player early in the second half after a scrap but the score line remained the same.

Sheffield United are big favourites with me ahead of Saturday, we have them at 8/15 to beat The Us. The away side are a big 9/2 to knock out the League One side. I think it’ll be a reasonably close game and think 2-1 United at 7/1 is a decent shout.

Sheffield Wednesday will go into their meeting with lower league opposition with a bit more rest but with little additional momentum after a frustrating 0-0 draw with Brentford on Saturday, which ended their 100 percent home record.

The Owls will travel up to Lancashire to face Morecambe. The League Two outfit played bottom of the table Plymouth on Saturday but could also only manage a draw.

Despite this, they’re riding high in their division and it will be a tough game for Gary Megson’s men.

For this game, which can be seen live on ESPN, I have Wednesday as slight favourites at 20/23, opposed to Morcecambe at 2/1, with the draw at 5/2. For an outside punt, I’m keen to suggest 0-0 at 14/1 but if you’re confident that it’ll be a happy Wednesday on Sunday, you can get 2-0 at 10/1 at my website,

As well as the local games, England face one of their biggest games of recent times against world champions Spain. This is a true test for Fabio Capello’s men to see how they shape up against the very best international side. Spain visit Wembley on Saturday full of optimism, confidence and promise, three adjectives that are rarely used to describe England.

Wayne Rooney hasn’t been selected due to his petulant kick in the most recent qualifier, which rules him out of the first three games of the Euros next summer. Instead Fabio has chosen five unproven strikers in his squad, with still no space for fans’ favourite Michael Owen.

Agbonlahor, Bent, Sturridge, Welbeck and Zamora are all decent Premiership players but surely they will be outclassed and found out on the international stage. Based on this, I fancy a 1-0 win for Spain at 5-1. It’ll be a tight game, potentially won by a set piece, and therefore I think 25/1 on Ramos to score first is a clever bet.