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Sheffield Utd are the first English top-flight side to fail to win any of their first 17 games in a season since Bolton Wanderers in 1902/03. That shows just how poor they’ve been to date, which is remarkable considering they were pushing for European football just last term.
Bristol Rovers on the other hand, are on a run of four wins from their last five across all competitions dating back to early December, as only MK Dons could get the better of them.
However, if we look at their home form in League One alone it looks considerably worse, as they’ve lost four of their last six at Memorial Stadium by two or more goals since late October, only beating bottom half teams Plymouth and Blackpool.
They did beat Darlington comfortably in the second round of this competition here, but that was expected of them with their visitors that day in National League North.
You do get the feeling that this match will be Chris Wilder’s last roll of the dice to try to get his team motivated for the Premier League.
It’s easy to forget that this team actually reached the quarters of this tournament last season, while they reached the fifth-round while still in Championship back in 2017/18.
Of course, they’re seriously struggling at the minute, but considering only Wolves and Liverpool lost fewer league trips than them last term and we think they’ll be up to the task.
Sheffield United To Beat Bristol Rovers
If we look at the worst starts to the Premier League over the last decade and see how they performed in their opening third round FA Cup clashes, we can get a better idea of what to expect based on historical results of teams in similar positions.
We have compiled a list of five teams using this method; Reading (2012/13), QPR (2012/13), Villa (2015/16), Fulham (2018/19) and Huddersfield (2018/19).
Looking at the Premier League teams that played lower than Championship opposition in their FA Cup third round match, we are left with three teams – Reading beat League One Crawley 3-1 in 2013, Villa beat League Two Wycombe Wanderers in their home replay 2-0 in 2016 and Fulham lost 2-1 to League Two Oldham in 2018.
The last time the Gas made it past this stage of the tournament came back in the 2007/08 campaign, and we somewhat doubt they’ll be putting an end to that run this weekend.
They may see this as an excellent opportunity to do so, but so will the Blades to get themselves out of their rut.