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A thoroughly disappointing FA Cup fixture for Newcastle at the weekend saw them lose out to Arsenal in extra time after Andy Carrol missed the two golden chances in the opening 90 minutes, which could have knocked the current holders out in the third round.
Sheffield Utd, on the other hand, claimed their first win of the season over Bristol Rovers with a victory at Memorial Stadium.
That ends a run of 21 winless games dating back to last season (D3-L18), but we somewhat doubt that’s going to spur them on too much coming against a side towards the bottom half of League One, albeit with a few games in hand.
Each of their three draws over normal time in this period came against teams towards the bottom of the Premier League table – Burnley, Fulham and Brighton, but fortunately for them, Newcastle aren’t exactly having it all their way of late.
The Magpies sit in 15th and are on a run of seven winless games across all competitions, losing five of those when including extra time, and this game could be a lot closer than most might think.
The visitors lost at Championship side Brentford on that run, while they’ve won just once across their last nine trips to opposition in all tournaments dating back to late September (W1-D4-L4).
However, that does include draws at Spurs, Wolves and Arsenal over 90 minutes, while they also lost to competitive sides Southampton, Leeds and Man City.
Draw And Under 2.5 Goals
The Blades are a miserly seven defeats from eight winless outings at Bramall Lane this term. Still, they have had tough fixtures here and their solitary match with a side currently residing in the bottom-six of the table finished in a stalemate against Fulham.
As always, goals have come at a premium for Chris Wilder’s men, netting just eight times across their 17 league outings to this point, seeing fewer than three goals in 10 of their 11 matches when excluding the ‘Big Six’ and Leicester, including all five here.
Steve Bruce’s charges will be desperate for a win in order to steer clear of yet another relegation battle, but their current winless run does leave some serious questions marks over them.
They too know how to set up defensively, seeing a maximum of two goals in eight of their last 11 matches across all competitions, as well as eight of their last nine road games, with that sole exception coming against the unpredictable high pressing Leeds.
If we look how the Magpies have fared against bottom-six opposition since Bruce took the reins at the start of last season, they’ve gone a mere W5-D7-L4 from their 16 matches.
That certainly suggests a slight trend towards the draw, especially since only two of those victories came on the road, while with six of the seven stalemates seeing fewer than three goals, that could well be the way again in what is likely to be a cagey affair.