Manchester United v Sheffield United
Live on BT Sport 2
December was an appalling month for Manchester United, earning the unwanted record of a four game losing streak - their worst run of matches since 1989/90. Other records have followed; with last month yielding four defeats and two draws from six games. Thus making those horrible 31 days the worst in the club's history.
Indeed, business savvy people cottoned on, and they were selling Jose Mourinho scarves in United colours outside the ground. Sales might have been marginally better than the lorry load of Marouane Felliani wigs though; they never quite took off.
Reds boss Louis van Gaal's obsession for ball retention is far removed from the swift counter-attacking days of Sir Alex Ferguson. It's all been rather predictable and boring, more sideways than forwards, with the aim of wearing down the opposition (and some might say the fans).
The style even led to kit manufacturer Adidas expressing a doubt about the team's pattern of play. Perhaps a first? I don't recall Scoreline bemoaning West Ham in the 1980s.
However, the game against Chelsea on December 28 provided some much needed attacking thrust. Despite the 0-0 result, van Gaal's side created more chances in that match than their previous six games. Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney hit the woodwork, in a more gung-ho performance - widely considered their best display of the season.
That said, van Gaal might ponder resting a few players for Saturday's clash.
The Blades enjoyed a remarkable FA Cup run in 2013/14 - marauding through to the semi-finals with some barnstorming displays against Aston Villa, Fulham, Charlton and Nottingham Forest. They played really well in the semi too, but lost 5-3 to Hull.
If they weren't playing the Red Devils, they would be an interest in the Sportsbook 'League One Team To Progress Furthest' market. They are 20/1, with Bradford available to back at 3/1 - who have been previewed for my weekend selections.
The Yorkshire club's League One campaign is yet to ignite. Tagged as ante-post favourites for the past two seasons has been something of an albatross, and those that were matched at around 4.03/1 in the title market are now sitting on a highly unlikely winner (now trading at nine times the price).
Boss Nigel Adkins recently changed the formation, reverting to a back four after some sloppy defending. Adkins was concerned about conceding too many goals, and it yielded success with four straight victories. Unfortunately they met the free-scoring Peterborough last Saturday - and lost 2-3.
Under/Over 2.5 Goals
I wouldn't get too carried away with Adkins' pre-match comments saying "We have the freedom to be able to try and give it a real go. So that's what we'll be trying to do." To think that the Yorkshire club will get on the front foot straight away is folly, as the hosts will have about 75 per cent possession.
As outlined by Alex Keble on this site, the Blades will be sitting back hoping to defend for as long as possible. Norwich were able to do just that at Old Trafford recently - grabbing an unlikely 2-1 victory with a well organised unit playing on the break. Their wide pair of Nathan Redmond and Robbie Brady were key to their performance - coupling a huge amount of tracking back and tackling with their attacking duties.
Before the Norwich game, Manchester United had a total of just seven shots on target in their four previous home matches in the Premier League. Whilst the statistic of van Gaal overseeing six goalless draws since October 25 is not a pretty one either.
The Blades will have to play out of their skin to replicate Norwich's display to keep the hosts at bay for 90 minutes. I would look to trade out on Unders at half-time, but anticipate the home team coming on strong in the second period.
In the likelihood of Anthony Martial playing, I'd look to take him for First Goalscorer odds, but the vibes are suggesting he could be rested. United captain Wayne Rooney is just about the most obvious one, considering his 188 Premier League goals. However, his recent sublime strike against Swansea ended a run of 553 minutes without scoring for the club.
Both United's goals in the recent 2-1 victory against Swansea came from wide positions. The recalling of Ashley Young has meant more crosses, and Young's more advanced role against the Swans provided 10 crosses in his 75 minute performance - twice the number of any other player.
I prefer a better-priced Juan Mata (if he starts), as the movement out wide could allow him to drift and ghost into the box. And he can take the odd free-kick when Rooney isn't around.
Sheffield United's Billy Sharp is leading scorer for the third tier club, but look out for right-back John Brayford. He bombs forward and is a terrific player - fantastic beard too.
Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are all shorter in the Sportsbook FA Cup winner market, but the trio will view Champions League success and progress as rather more important than a tilt at Wembley.
Louis van Gaal's side don't have that luxury, and United at 8/1 doesn't strike me as a bad bet. A decent run in this tournament and the Europa League won't make this a terrific season by any means for any dissatisfied Red Devils' fan, but it's all about beating the price long term, and this strikes me as a point or two bigger than it should be.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.9010/11
Back Juan Mata to score @ 3.1085/40