Man Utd Title Hopes Hit By Sheffield United Defeat

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) and teammates react after conceding their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP)

 

Sheffield United put a huge dent in Manchester United’s Premier League title ambitions on Wednesday, beating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s off-key side 2-1 at Old Trafford.

United knew they had to respond after Manchester City leapfrogged them at the summit with a 5-0 hammering of West Brom on Tuesday but they were well short of their best on a frustrating night.

The result leaves them on 40 points — one point behind City — but Pep Guardiola’s side now have a game in hand and are looking relentless.

United were sloppy in possession from the start at Old Trafford against the bottom-placed visitors, who had won just one league match in the entire campaign.

The home side dominated possession in the initial stages and Marcus Rashford had an early shot but they were short of ideas against the battling away team.

 

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire (L) heads home their first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP)

The Blades broke the deadlock midway through the first half when Kean Bryan rose to glance home John Fleck’s corner after David de Gea failed to punch clear.

Billy Sharp appeared to nudge the Spanish goalkeeper from behind but the goal was allowed to stand.

Manchester United had the ball in the net after half an hour’s play but Anthony Martial’s effort did not count because referee Peter Bankes had already blown his whistle for a foul by Harry Maguire on goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

United lacked urgency as the first period wore on, struggling to get behind Chris Wilder’s organised back line.

 

Sheffield United’s Scottish striker Oliver Burke (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Tim Keeton / POOL / AFP)

Bruno Fernandes fashioned half a chance for United when he ran beyond the last line of defence and hooked the ball back but Martial could not get enough purchase on the header.

The home side tried to step up a gear at the start of the second half but still lacked sharpness in their passing, with Rashford off the pace.

Mason Greenwood, who scored in United’s FA Cup win against Liverpool on Sunday, snatched at a chance after a fine through ball from Fernandes.

United were now showing more urgency but David McGoldrick went close to doubling Sheffield United’s lead with a clever effort with the outside of his right foot.

 

Solskjaer’s men were level in the 64th minute when an outswinging corner from Alex Telles was met with a thumping header by Maguire past the diving Ramsdale.

Edinson Cavani replaced Greenwood moments later as United looked to turn the screw.

But Sheffield United were back in front again in the 74th minute when Manchester United failed to clear and Oliver Burke’s strike took a wicked deflection off Axel Tuanzebe and went in off the underside of the bar.

Solskjaer threw on Luke Shaw and Donny van de Beek as United desperately sought an equaliser but they had to face the intense frustration of three dropped points.

Vardy’s Strike Lifts Leicester Into Third, Palace Punish 10-Man West Brom

Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (R) scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Leicester City at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on December 6, 2020.
JASON CAIRNDUFF / POOL / AFP

 

Jamie Vardy struck in the final minute to move Leicester up to third in the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United as Tottenham and Liverpool prepared to welcome back supporters for the first time in nine months on Sunday.

The Foxes moved above both Spurs and Liverpool in the table after ending a four-game winless run at an empty Bramall Lane, to push the Blades ever closer to a return to the Championship.

Clubs in tier-three areas of coronavirus restrictions in England still have to play behind closed doors, while tier-two zones such as London and Liverpool can have crowds of up to 2,000.

Sheffield United still have just one point from 11 games and were punished for a lack of ruthlessness as John Egan let Vardy run through rather than bringing down the striker outside the box and taking a red card, before the former England international kept his cool to beat Aaron Ramsdale.

Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Leicester City at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on December 6, 2020. JASON CAIRNDUFF / POOL / AFP

 

The late winner was a just reward for Leicester’s domination of the game as they hit the woodwork twice in the first half through Vardy and James Maddison.

Instead, it was Ayoze Perez who put Brendan Rodgers’s men in front when he pounced on Marc Albrighton’s deflected shot.

READ ALSO: Mbappe Scores 100th Goal For PSG

However, Chris Wilder’s men hit back immediately for only their fifth league goal of the season when Oli McBurnie showed good strength to head home from a corner.

The hosts then held out more comfortably in the second period until they gifted away possession inside their own half and Maddison picked out a perfect pass to release Vardy for the winner.

– Spurs bid to go back top –
Tottenham can move back to the top of the table when they host Arsenal in front of a crowd of 2,000 fans for the North London derby.

Liverpool will also welcome back supporters to Anfield when they host Wolves later on Sunday for the first time since the Reds ended a 30-year wait to win a top-flight title.

Earlier, Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke both scored twice as Crystal Palace made West Brom pay for Matheus Pereira’s first-half red card in a 5-1 rout at the Hawthorns.

The Eagles had struggled for goals in recent weeks, but with Zaha restored after missing defeats to Burnley and Newcastle due to coronavirus, Palace were a team transformed as they moved to 11th and within three points of the top four.

At the other end of the table, the margin of defeat sees West Brom sink behind Burnley to second bottom.

Zaha made an instant impact as Palace took the lead after eight minutes when his low cross was turned into his own net by Darnell Furlong.

Furlong made amends on the half-hour mark when his cross was swept home by Conor Gallagher.

But just four minutes later the game swung decisively in the visitors’ favour when Pereira was sent off after kicking out at Patrick van Aanholt.

Zaha restored Palace’s lead 10 minutes into the second half when he brilliantly curled in from 16 yards.

Four minutes later, Benteke marked his return to the starting line-up with a first goal since July by stooping to head home Van Aanholt’s cross.

Zaha made it 4-1 after 68 minutes when he stabbed in following Eberechi Eze’s strong run into the box and Benteke rounded off the scoring in style by turning his marker and powering home a left-footed drive from just inside the penalty area eight minutes from time.

AFP

Premier League: Chelsea Trounce Sheffield To Go Third

Chelsea's German striker Timo Werner (R) celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with Chelsea's English striker Tammy Abraham (L) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge in London on November 7, 2020. Chelsea won the game 4-1. Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP
Chelsea’s German striker Timo Werner (R) celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal with Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham (L) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge in London on November 7, 2020. Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP

 

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea came back from a goal down to comfortably beat Sheffield United 4-1 on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Goals from Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, and Timo Werner were enough to cancel out David McGoldrick’s ninth-minute opener for Sheffield United.

Chelsea are beginning to pick up the pace after their expensive summer rebuild and are now just one point behind Southampton and Liverpool, who play Manchester City on Sunday.

Lampard’s side, now unbeaten in six Premier League matches, went behind early at Stamford Bridge when McGoldrick’s neat flick put Sheffield United in front.

But they hit back quickly, with England forward Abraham slotting home from Matteo Kovacic’s cutback and Chilwell put Chelsea into a 2-1 lead just past the half-hour.

Brazilian veteran Silva bagged his first Chelsea goal to put the Blues 3-1 up before Werner blasted past Aaron Ramsdale to put the home side in total control.

Martinez’s Penalty Heroics Sees Aston Villa Begin League On Winning Note

Aston Villa’s English defender Ezri Konsa (L) jumps to head the ball to score the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Aston Villa kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 victory over 10-man Sheffield United on Monday as Ezri Konsa bagged the winner after Emiliano Martinez saved a penalty for the hosts.

United were a man down early on after captain John Egan was sent off for a foul on Ollie Watkins.

Villa keeper Martinez saved John Lundstram’s first-half penalty in his first appearance following his £17 million ($21 million) move from Arsenal last week.

 

Aston Villa’s Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez throws the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Tim Goode / POOL / AFP

 

Konsa sealed the points in the second half with a looping header, a well-earned reward for a committed display after he played on despite appearing to injure himself sprinting out for the second half.

It was the perfect start for Dean Smith’s side, who beat Burton Albion in the League Cup second round last week, as they look to avoid a repeat of last season’s relegation battle.

After losing at home to Wolves last weekend, United have now lost their last five league games dating back to last season.

Former Nottingham Forest right-back Matty Cash was given his Villa debut after his close-season transfer and his deep cross provided an early half-chance for John McGinn, who volleyed over from an acute angle.

Watkins, another of Villa’s new boys, played a key role as United were reduced to 10 men in the 12th minute.

Tyrone Mings’ high long ball sent Watkins racing through on goal and Egan responded by tugging him back, with referee Graham Scott showing the defender a red card that was confirmed by VAR.

Wilder introduced on-loan Chelsea defender Ethan Ampadu and moved Chris Basham into midfield and the switch earned United their penalty in the 36th minute.

Basham’s clever run onto Oliver Burke’s pass forced Matt Targett to concede the spot-kick, but Martinez came to his rescue as he dived to his right to keep out Lundstram’s strike.

Villa found it hard to make the numerical advantage count and their frustration was mounting when Watkins missed the target from Cash’s cross.

But Konsa finally broke the deadlock from a 63rd-minute corner when the defender met Mings’ flick-on with a header that floated past Aaron Ramsdale into the far corner.

 

Aston Villa’s Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez throws the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Tim Goode / POOL / AFP

 

Seven of Villa’s last nine league goals have now come from set-pieces.

Jack Grealish was close to putting the result beyond doubt when he curled just wide from the edge of the area.

AFP

Sheff Utd Cruise Past Chelsea, Liverpool’s Record Bid Hit By Burnley

Sheffield United's English-born Irish striker David McGoldrick (R) scores his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)
Sheffield United’s English-born Irish striker David McGoldrick (R) scores his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Sheffield United dealt a major blow to Chelsea’s chances of a Premier League top-four finish by thrashing the Blues 3-0 at Bramall Lane, while Liverpool’s long winning run at Anfield came to an end in a 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday.

Manchester City did guarantee their presence in the top four for a 10th successive season with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win at Brighton.

However, they will have to wait for the outcome on Monday of their appeal against a two-season ban from European competitions to see if they will play Champions League football.

Norwich will be playing in the Championship after Michail Antonio’s four-goal blitz confirmed the Canaries’ relegation in a thumping 4-0 win for West Ham that should seal the Hammers’ top-flight status for another season.

Sheffield United have long since achieved that feat in their first season in the Premier League for 13 years and the Blades are still eying the top four themselves as they moved within five points of fourth-placed Leicester.

Chelsea remain in third, but could end the weekend down in fifth if Leicester and Manchester United beat Bournemouth and Southampton respectively.

The Blues have already reinforced their attack for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, but Frank Lampard was again shown it is at the other end his side desperately need to improve.

David McGoldrick’s long wait for a first Premier League goal came to an end when he was quickest to react after Kepa Arrizabalaga saved Oli McBurnie’s deflected shot.

More slack defending from the visitors then allowed McBurnie a free header to double the hosts’ lead.

Lampard sent on Antonio Rudiger at the start of the second-half, but the German international did little to improve Chelsea’s defending as his attempted clearance from Lys Mousset’s cross only teed up McGoldrick to score his second 13 minutes from time.

“They were better than us, physically, in the mind and with the ball. So you lose the game,” said Lampard.

– Liverpool held -For the first time since January 2018, Liverpool failed to win a Premier League game at Anfield as an inspired performance by Nick Pope in the Burnley goal and Jay Rodriguez’s equaliser to cancel out Andy Robertson’s first half header gave Burnley a share of the spoils.

Jurgen Klopp’s men now need to win their remaining three games to be surpass the record total of 100 points in a Premier League season set by City two years ago.

“We left the door open, we didn’t close it. We should have scored two, three, four goals at least,” said Klopp.

City scored four or more goals for the fourth time in six league games at Brighton.

Sterling’s treble took his best ever season’s tally to 27, while Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva also netted in another rout for a pleased Pep Guardiola.

– Norwich relegated –
At Carrow Road, a seventh successive league defeat condemned Norwich to relegation as Antonio’s ruthless display boosted West Ham’s own survival bid.

“We wanted to beat the odds again but when the dust settles the outcome is more or less what was expected. It doesn’t take anything away from the fact that we are disappointed,” manager Daniel Farke said.

West Ham’s second win in four games opens up a six-point cushion over the bottom three.

The early signs were ominous for Norwich as West Ham took the lead in the 11th minute through Antonio’s close-range volley.

Antonio struck again in first-half stoppage-time, glancing his header into the far corner from Mark Noble’s free-kick.

He completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute with a looping header and his fourth came in the 74th minute from Ryan Fredericks’ cross.

Watford also moved to the brink of survival as two Troy Deeney penalties beat Newcastle 2-1 to move level with West Ham on 34 points.

 

 

AFP

Dismal Chelsea Humbled In Blades Battering

Chelsea players leave the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)
Chelsea players leave the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 11, 2020. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Chelsea suffered a setback in their bid to qualify for the Champions League as Sheffield United rekindled their own European ambitions with an impressive 3-0 win on Saturday.

Frank Lampard’s side were punished for some dismal defending at Bramall Lane as David McGoldrick struck twice, either side of Oli McBurnie’s goal.

The Blues remain third after a second defeat in their last four games.

They will be down to fifth place by Monday evening if Leicester beat Bournemouth and Manchester United defeat Southampton.

It was another alarmingly sloppy display from Chelsea, whose other defeat since the restart was a defensively shambolic 3-2 loss at lowly West Ham.

With games against Norwich, Liverpool and Wolves left in the league, Chelsea will hope second-placed Manchester City’s two-year European ban is upheld on Monday.

In that case, finishing fifth would guarantee Champions League qualification.

The Blades are now unbeaten in their last four games, with Chelsea their latest scalp after impressive wins over Tottenham and Wolves.

Chris Wilder’s team are up to sixth place and are firmly in the hunt to qualify for the Europa League at the end of a remarkable first season back in the top flight.

Lampard made two changes as Jorginho came in for Billy Gilmour, who had knee surgery after Tuesday’s win at Crystal Palace, and Tammy Abraham started in place of Olivier Giroud.

– Naive mistake –
In contrast with what was to follow, Chelsea made a bright start and Ross Barkley tested Dean Henderson before Christian Pulisic headed over from Reece James’ cross.

It was United who took the lead in the 18th minute as their high-tempo pressing force a naive mistake from Mason Mount.

The Chelsea youngster was caught in possession as he tried to dribble out of his own penalty area and George Baldock crossed back into the box.

McBurnie met the delivery with a volley that deflected off Barkley, forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into a awkward save that only pushed the ball out to McGoldrick and he slotted home from close range for his first Premier League goal.

Conceding such a messy goal knocked Chelsea out of their stride and the Blades doubled the lead in the 33rd minute after more sloppy defending from the visitors.

The fragility of Chelsea’s defence has been their fatal flaw several times this season and they were prised open far too easily when McBurnie got in front of Kurt Zouma to meet Enda Stevens’ cross with a powerful header past Kepa.

James’ long-range effort forced a good save from Henderson, but the visibly frustrated Lampard replaced Mount and Andreas Christensen with Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger at half-time.

Abraham should have given Chelsea a lifeline midway through the second half, but the striker poked over.

McGoldrick put Chelsea out of their misery in the 77th minute.

He started the move on the halfway line and played a perfectly-weighted pass to Lys Mousset.

Mousset cut it back into the penalty area and when Rudiger made a complete hash of clearing, McGoldrick was on hand to blast into the roof of the net.

 

 

AFP

Tottenham’s Champions League Dream Suffers Setback After Sheffield Defeat

tottenham
Sheffield United’s French striker Lys Mousset (C) scores their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on July 2, 2020. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Tottenham’s dreams of securing a UEFA Champions League spot was dealt a major blow on Thursday after they lost 3-1 to Sheffield United.

Sander Berge’s strike gave the Blades the lead in the first half of the encounter at Bramall Lane.

Although Harry Kane equalized later for Spurs, it was cancelled by VAR for a handball against Lucas Moura.

Lucas seemed to have kicked the ball against his arm in the build-up to the goal, leaving Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho angry.

Mourinho’s men suffered more infliction as Lys Mousset and Oli McBurnie scored after the half-time break.

Tottenham were to later get a consolation goal from Kane’s last minute strike, with the loss leaving them nine points behind Chelsea in fourth.

They are seven points adrift of fifth placed Manchester United after their first defeat since the restart.

On the other hand, the win is the Blades’ first in five matches since the resumption of the Premier League action.

The victory take them two points ahead of Tottenham into seventh place, keeping their hopes of making it to Europe alive.

– Sloppy defending –

Tottenham responded when Eric Dier flashed a header just wide, with Moussa Sissoko stretching in vain to reach it at the far post.

Kane couldn’t hit the target from Steven Bergwijn’s pass and Tottenham were punished as Berge put the Blades ahead in the 31st minute.

After spreading the ball wide to Chris Basham, Berge broke into the Tottenham area, collected the return pass and drilled his low shot into the far corner.

It was the Norway midfielder’s first goal since his January move from Genk.

Tottenham thought they had equalised two minutes later as Lucas sprinted forward and, despite being pushed over, managed to knock the ball onto Kane, who cut inside and fired home.

Kane’s celebrations were curtailed when VAR disallowed the goal for a handball by Moura, who had the ball kicked against his arm as he tumbled under pressure from several United players.

Mourinho was disgusted with what appeared to be an extremely harsh decision and his mood wasn’t improved when already-booked United midfielder Oli Norwood escaped a red card for elbowing Son Heung-min.

Tottenham were struggling to find their rhythm and United nearly doubled their lead when David McGoldrick shot into the side-netting early in the second half.

Ben Osborn was making his first Premier League start and the United midfielder had a key role as they struck again in the 69th minute.

Breaking into the area, Osborn’s deft pass picked out Enda Stevens and he squared for the unmarked Mousset to slot home from close-range for his first goal since December.

McBurnie put the result beyond doubt when he tapped in from Berge’s cross in the 84th minute after more sloppy Tottenham defending.

Kane had scored against 28 of 29 teams he has played against in the Premier League, with United the only ones to hold him in check.

He got off the mark against them with a simple finish from Son’s pass, but his 199th career club goal was far too late to avoid a painful defeat.

Wilder Fumes After Goalline Technology Mistake Denies Blades

Aston Villa’s English midfielder Jack Grealish (L), Sheffield United’s English manager Chris Wilder (2nd L) and Sheffield United’s English-born Northern Irish midfielder Oliver Norwood (3rd L) tap hands after the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. CARL RECINE / POOL / AFP

 

 

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder admitted he didn’t know whether to “laugh or cry” after a goalline technology blunder forced his side to settle for a damaging 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

The Hawk-Eye system failed to award a goal when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland clearly carried Oliver Norwood’s first-half free-kick over the line.

Referee Michael Oliver and his officials were unable to intervene and VAR offered no help, leaving Wilder fuming over a decision that dented his team’s bid to qualify for the Champions League.

It was a controversial way for the Premier League to return in the first game since the top-flight was halted in March due to the coronavirus.

Hawk-Eye Innovations, which run the technology, issued a statement apologising for the error, claiming the fact Nyland, Villa team-mate Keinan Davis and the post were in the way meant no camera saw the ball cross the line.

But Wilder insisted it was clear the ball was over and said VAR should have come to the rescue.

“It was in the Holte End, the goalkeeper was in the Holte End and eight rows back. Everyone knew it, saw it and felt it,” he said.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Already the jokes have started. It’s all going to come out but we’re pretty disappointed and we’ve got to get on with it.

“I believe a decision should have been made from Stockley Park (the VAR centre). For someone to tell me with seven cameras and this is the first time it’s happened in over 9,000 games it’s a difficult one to take.

“We’ve got Chris Kavanagh (fourth official), one of the best referees in the Premier League and Michael Oliver possibly one of the best referees in Europe and if you ask them they’ll be scratching their heads over how this situation occurred.

“We believe it should have been referred (to VAR).”

A statement from the Professional Game Match Officials Board explained why VAR did not intervene when the technology failed.

“Under the IFAB protocol, the VAR is able to check goal situations, however, due to the fact that the on-field match officials did not receive a signal, and the unique nature of that, the VAR did not intervene,” they said.

That was no consolation for Wilder, whose team are now sixth, four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea when the gap could have been closer.

It was a narrow escape for second bottom Villa and boss Dean Smith admitted they had been lucky to avoid defeat.

“We got away with one, certainly, with the technology not working. But I’ve been in the other position where technology has not been good for us at times,” Smith said.

“There’s always going to be some error, we have human error from officials and we have to accept that.

“There’s going to be errors in technology as we’ve seen with VAR this season and now for the first time ever with Hawk-Eye. We just have to accept it and move on, there’s nothing else we can do.

“We’re the ones who go away disappointed even with that controversy. The fact that we are just shows that the performance was good. We need to maintain that level.”

The return of top-flight football in England also gave players a platform to back the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd.

Just before kick-off at Villa Park Oliver blew his whistle and all 22 players and the officials went down on one knee for around 10 seconds.

Both teams were also wearing shirts with players names replaced by the Black Lives Matter slogan, a gesture that will be replicated across the Premier League for the first 12 games.

Sheffield Force Arsenal To Draw At Emirates Stadium

Arsenal's Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (L) shoots but fails to score during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (L) shoots but fails to score during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Arsenal’s faint hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League suffered another blow as John Fleck’s late equaliser secured a valuable point for Sheffield United’s own European ambitions in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates.

Gabriel Martinelli had filled the void left by the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by opening the scoring for the Gunners on the stroke of half-time.

But Mikel Arteta’s men were devoid of inspiration for most of the match and paid for one moment of poor defending as Fleck drove high past Bernd Leno eight minutes from time.

Arsenal have still lost just once in six games since Arteta took charge, but have won just one of five in the Premier League to remain 10 points off the top four in 10th.

The visitors remain four points ahead of the Gunners and move to within a point of the European places in seventh.

A bright start by the Blades showed why they are surpassing all expectations on their return to the top flight.

However, their lack of a predatory finisher was shown as Lys Mousset twice headed over good chances in the first 10 minutes before Arsenal settled down.

Martinelli has made an impressive impact in his debut season in England and the 18-year-old was Arsenal’s major threat in the absence of Aubameyang.

With the hosts’ first attack, Alexandre Lacazette fed the speedy Nicolas Pepe and the Ivorian’s cross picked out Martinelli, who could only volley across goal and wide.

The Gunners were banking on a much bigger impact from Pepe when they paid Lille a club record £72 million for his services in August, but his confidence is growing with every game and another slick pass teed up Martinelli to fire wide.

Martinelli could not have been handed an easier finish at the third time of asking seconds before half-time as Bukayo Saka’s cross looped kindly into his path to tap home his ninth goal of the season.

“Gabi’s gonna be a superstar,” tweeted an impressed Aubameyang. “Not because of the goal, because of the attitude, energy and mindset.”

Chances were few and far between after the break as Arsenal seemed to be keeping the visitors at bay bar a threat from set-pieces.

Oli McBurnie saw a goalbound header cleared by Granit Xhaka before the Scotland striker headed straight at Leno from another corner.

However, Sheffield United went nearly a year unbeaten away from home prior to visits to Manchester City and Liverpool over the festive period and showed the resilience on the road to claim a point seven minutes from time.

Arsenal did not deal with a deep cross into their box and it dropped to Fleck, who got over the ball to keep his strike on target and saw it fly hight past the helpless Leno.

Chris Wilder’s men could even have taken all three points in the closing stages as McBurnie and Fleck had shots bravely blocked inside the box a minute from time.

 

AFP

Man City Overcome Fatigue To Blunt Sheffield United

Man City Overcome Fatigue To Blunt Sheffield United

 

Manchester City shrugged off a tight turnaround from defeat at Wolves to beat Sheffield United 2-0 on Sunday thanks to second-half strikes from Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne.

City boss Pep Guardiola had lambasted the scheduling that saw the English champions kick-off less than 48 hours after playing the majority of Friday’s 3-2 defeat at Molineux with 10 men.

Fatigue seemed to get the better of City in the first half as the Blades enjoyed the better of the chances and had a goal ruled out after a VAR review for offside

However, the greater individual quality at Guardiola’s disposal decided the game as De Bruyne teed up Aguero to smash into the roof of the net seven minutes after the break.

De Bruyne then rounded off another excellent display by scoring the second himself with a fine finish eight minutes from time to inflict United’s first defeat away from home for nearly a year.

Despite claiming the Premier League and broadcasters “don’t care” about player welfare given the schedule his side were handed over the festive period, Guardiola made just three changes to the side that started against Wolves.

City’s sluggish start should have punished by the visitors with Lys Mousset particularly wasteful.

The Frenchman spurned a glorious early chance to put United ahead when he get on the end of a floated Callum Robinson cross but headed wide.

The hosts were restricted to long-range efforts early on but De Bruyne, Rodrigo and Raheem Sterling were all unable to work goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

United thought they had claimed the lead on 29 minutes when Mousset raced onto a long ball from John Fleck and fired home.

City were furious because they thought Aguero had been fouled in the build-up but, while their complaints were brushed aside by referee Chris Kavanagh, VAR came to their aid by ruling Mousset was marginally offside.

It was a let-off for City but they were caught out by a long ball again as Oliver Norwood picked out Mousset from just outside his own box.

This time Mousset was onside but could only shoot into the side-netting.

The lack of a clinical finisher has been the only thing holding back a stunning return to the Premier League by Chris Wilder’s men and they got a lesson in taking their chances from City’s all-time record scorer soon after the break.

De Bruyne picked out the Argentinian with a fine through ball and Aguero blasted high past Henderson from a narrow angle.

Riyad Mahrez then teed up De Bruyne to wrap up the points in the closing minutes as the Belgian finished powerfully after taking a nice touch inside the area.

Billy Sharp went close to grabbing a late consolation but his header rebounded off the post.

Sheffield Hold Man Utd To 3-3 Draw In Dramatic Comeback

Sheffield United’s French striker Lys Mousset (L) celebrates with Sheffield United’s English midfielder John Lundstram (R) after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Manchester United at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on November 24, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United and Sheffield United shared the spoils after a dramatic 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane on Sunday, with the home side scoring a late equaliser after three goals from the visitors in seven minutes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, outplayed for 70 minutes by the promoted side, trailed 2-0 after a first-half goal from John Fleck and a second-half effort from Lys Mousset.

Chris Wilder’s team were hungrier and more incisive but from nowhere United were back in the game, with 19-year-old Brandon Williams scoring in the 72nd minute.

Manchester United suddenly looked full of ideas and incisive running, with the game turned on its head.

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Solskjaer threw on Mason Greenwood to replace Andreas Pereira, meaning they were now operating with an attacking quartet of Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Just five minutes after Williams’ strike, Greenwood equalised, finishing from close range after Rashford’s cross.

With the home side rocking badly, United poured forward again and Rashford swept home.

But the drama was still not over, with Oliver McBurnie controlling the ball and firing past David de Gea to level at 3-3. The goal stood after a VAR check.

AFP

Liverpool Extend Lead With Hard-Fought Win At Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s Irish defender Enda Stevens (C) makes a clearance from Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (R) and Liverpool’s Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (2R) during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Liverpool at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on September 28, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool moved eight points clear at the top of the table, but were made to work hard for a 16th straight Premier League win as Georginio Wijnaldum’s fortunate strike handed the visitors a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United on Saturday.

The European champions looked short on invention against the well-organised Blades until Wijnaldum’s shot from the edge of the box 20 minutes from time trickled between the legs of United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

However, another vital three points moved Liverpool closer to a first top-flight title in 30 years as they opened up a sizeable advantage over Manchester City, who can cut the gap back to five points with victory later at Everton.

Chances began to come for Jurgen Klopp’s men towards the end of the first-half as Sadio Mane sliced horribly wide with just Henderson to beat and then hit the post when it seemed easier to score from Roberto Firmino’s pass.

Mane was unfortunate minutes into the second period, though, as he was taken out by John Lundstram as he broke into the box.

Referee Anthony Taylor was unimpressed and it was another example when VAR backed the official’s decision when it should have been overturned.

The hosts had their chances to spring a massive shock as Adrian turned behind a long-range drive from Oliver Norwood before Andy Robertson made a brilliant block to deny John Fleck the opener.

All of Sheffield United’s good work was undone with one mistake when Wijnaldum pounced on a loose ball 20 yards from goal, but his strike should have been easily handled by Henderson, who instead watched on with horror as the ball slipped under his grasp.

The Manchester United loanee made some amends 11 minutes from time when Mohamed Salah broke clean through, but could not beat Henderson with a low finish.

That save could still have salvaged a point had substitute Leon Clarke not blazed over with the goal at his mercy late on.

Instead, Liverpool held on to grind out the sort of win that could finally make them champions come May.