Manchester United vs Sheffield United preview: Wayne Rooney hoping to maintain upturn in form in tricky cup tie

A look ahead to the FA Cup Third Round fixture at Old Trafford.

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The Independent Football

It’s a big game for…

Wayne Rooney, whose spectacular drop off in form this season has been offset by his latest two performances – signified by a sublime back-heel flick against Swansea. Van Gaal will hope the striker can boost his meagre tally this season against third-tier opposition.

Best stat…

Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp has scored the same amount of goals this season (11) as Martial, Rooney and Depay combined.

Remember when…

Eric Cantona produced a signature moment of FA Cup magic at the same stage of the competition in 1995. His first time lob from outside the box remains a beauty to behold.

Player to watch…

Daley Blind, who was hailed as United’s unsung hero by club legend Dennis Irwin this week. The Dutchman has been maligned by the stratospheric improvements of Chris Smalling, but the Blind heralds some impressive stats. Out of all defenders to have played more than 15 league games this season, only Mertesacker (90%) has a better rate of pass completion than Blind (88%).

Past three meetings…

Manchester United 2 (Carrick, Rooney), Sheffield United 0
Premier League, April 2007

Sheffield United 1 (Gillespie), Manchester United 2 (Rooney 2)
Premier League, November 2006

Sheffield United 0, Manchester United 2 (Hughes, Cantona)
FA Cup, January 1995

Form guide…

Manchester United: LLLLDW

Sheffield United: LDWWWL

Vital information…

Kick-off time: 5.30pm

TV: Bt Sport 2, highlights BBC1 at 10.25pm