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Fulham v Sheff Utd: Back Blades to secure draw

| 03.02.2014

Fulham are odds-on favourites at 1/3 to qualify for the next round of the FA Cup but history suggests the Cottagers will be made to work for progression by their League One opponents.

Rene Meulensteen’s men are priced at 8/13 to win the match, while the Blades are made 5/1 underdogs, but with three of the last five meetings between the two ending all square, the draw could be a tempting option at 11/4.

Fulham are rarely beaten at home in this competition, losing just one of their last nine at Craven Cottage in the FA Cup, but Nigel Clough’s men clearly enjoy a cup road trip, having lost just one of six away from Bramall Lane.

With the three draws from their five most recent meetings all producing a 1-1 scoreline, the 7/1 about a repeat result could also prove a shrewd bet.

However, these goals are most likely to come in the latter stages of the game, with both sides taking their time to get up and running this term.

Fulham have not been hugely prolific this season, scoring just 22 goals in 24 league games and Whites fans have been forced to wait for the goals they have seen with 72 per cent coming after the half-time break.

The Blades’ efforts have been similarly late in arriving, with almost half (46.2 per cent) of their 26 strikes coming between the 45th and 75th minutes.

As such, the 19/10 available on a goalless first 45 minutes looks too good to ignore.

If Fulham are to get the goals needed to secure progression then on-loan Aston Villa striker Darren Bent will need to up his game.

Despite recording just two league goals this term the former Spurs man is now the Cottagers’ top scoring forward following the departure of Dimitar Berbatov to Monaco.

With Meulensteen unable to call on new signing Kostas Mitroglou, Bent will be expected to lead the line and has been boosted from 4/1 to 9/2 with Ladbrokes to open the scoring.

However, better value can be had from backing six-goal Blades midfielder Harry Maguire to net again with 9/1 on the Sheffield man to score at any time.

The 20-year-old Englishman has opened the scoring on two occasions for United this term so the 25/1 on him scoring first in west London should also be given consideration.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.