We look ahead to tonight's Carabao Cup tie at Bramall Lane...
The Saddlers visit Championship newcomers Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup first round this evening. We have been something of a bogey team to the Blades in recent years, losing only one of the last 11 meetings between the sides. Despite winning the League One title last term, United suffered a hat-trick of defeats against Walsall – 1-0 and 4-1 in the league and 2-1 in the Checkatrade Trophy. Both sides started their respective league campaigns with a 1-0 scoreline, the Saddlers losing narrowly at Bury and Sheff Utd edging past Brentford. Walsall lost to Yeovil at the League Cup first-round stage last season, while Chris Wilder's men were beaten by Crewe.
FINAL LEAGUE ONE STANDINGS 2016/17:
Sheff Utd: 1st – P46 W30 D10 L6 F92 A47 PTS100
Walsall: 14th – P46 W14 D16 L16 F51 A58 PTS58
14th January – Walsall 4-1 Sheff Utd
Walsall produced a stunning performance to thrash League One leaders Sheffield United, ending the Blades’ six-game winning streak. Amadou Bakayoko’s low finish put the Saddlers in front, only for Jack O’Connell to nod home an equaliser soon after. Jon Whitney’s men turned on the style in the second half, with goals from Jason McCarthy, Joe Edwards and Erhun Oztumer (pen) securing a resounding win.
Sheff Utd wins: 13
Walsall wins: 10
OPPOSITION IN FOCUS:
Sheff Utd Manager: Chris Wilder
A boyhood Blade, the 49-year-old has won a league title in each of the last two seasons – League One with Sheffield United last term and League Two with Northampton in 2015/16. Wilder made 105 league appearances during two spells with Sheffield United as a player, and featured four times on loan at Walsall in 1989. He has also managed Halifax, Alfreton and Oxford, whom he led to promotion from the Conference in 2009/10.
Sheff Utd Star Man: Billy Sharp
The experienced forward netted 30 goals as the Blades were crowned League One champions last term, being named in the PFA Team of the Year for a third time. Now into his third spell at Bramall Lane, the 31-year-old notched the only goal in United’s opening-day win over Brentford but missed a penalty in their 1-0 defeat against Walsall last season. He has also played for Leeds, Doncaster, Southampton and Scunthorpe, where he plundered 53 goals in 82 matches.
WALSALL TEAM NEWS:
Right-back Nicky Devlin is available after suspension. Centre-back James Wilson is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Hampshire-based Davies brandished 136 yellow cards and four reds in the 38 matches he officiated in 2016/17. His last Saddlers game was our memorable 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Dean Smith’s Brentford in January 2016.
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