Sheffield United Weather The Storm To Climb To Fifth

 

Sheffield United closed to within two points of a Champions League place by coming from behind to keep Bournemouth perilously close to the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Bramall Lane.

John Lundstram came off the bench to score the winner as the Blades moved up to fifth after Billy Sharp had cancelled out Callum Wilson’s early opener for the visitors.

Defeat leaves Bournemouth still just two points above the bottom three, having played a game more than most of their rivals to avoid relegation.

READ ALSO: Man City Clash With West Ham Postponed Over Storm

The only game in the Premier League due to on Sunday went ahead after a pitch inspection as the effects of storm Ciara, which saw Manchester City’s clash with West Ham postponed, were not enough to convince referee John Moss to abandon the game.

Early on it was the hosts who were blown off course as the Cherries looked to build on back-to-back wins that had hauled them out of the bottom three.

Wilson struck his second goal in three games with an emphatic finish on the rebound after Harry Wilson’s initial effort was blocked.

United responded just in time to go in level at the break when captain Sharp was quickest to react as the ball flashed across the Bournemouth goal after the visitors failed to clear a corner.

A day after Jordan Pickford’s blunder nearly cost Everton all three points Dean Henderson did no harm to his chances in his challenge to be England’s number one at Euro 2020.

Henderson produced a brilliant save from Ryan Fraser to prevent Bournemouth retaking the lead 20 minutes from time.

That save proved crucial when six minutes from time Lys Mousset’s cross was controlled and finished by Lundstram on a trademark run into the box to keep the Blades dreams of European football next season very much alive.

Liverpool Defeat Sheffield To Maintain A Year Unbeaten Run

Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino after he scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sheffield United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 2, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool made it an entire calendar year without a Premier League defeat as the runaway leaders beat Sheffield United 2-0 on Thursday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side moved 13 points clear of second-placed Leicester thanks to goals from Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Senegal winger Sadio Mane at Anfield.

Liverpool’s 19th win in 20 league games this season completed an incredible 12 months for a team at the peak of their powers.

The Reds haven’t lost in 37 league games since a defeat at Manchester City on January 3, 2019, and it looks certain they will win the English title for the first time since 1990.

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With a game in hand to further bolster their advantage, it would take an astonishing collapse to deprive Liverpool of their holy grail.

Winners of their last 18 home league games, Liverpool are unbeaten in 51 top-flight matches at Anfield dating back to April 2017.

As if it wasn’t hard enough to beat Liverpool already, they are proving more impregnable than ever lately.

This was their fifth consecutive top-flight clean-sheet — the first time they have managed that since 2007 — and they completed more passes than any team in one match in the Premier League era.

After a golden 2019 saw Liverpool crowned European and Club World champions, the next target is ending Manchester City’s two-year spell as champions after narrowly missing out last season.

Their sights set on domestic bliss, the new year started just as the old one finished, with Liverpool setting standards of excellence that rival anything achieved by City’s breath-taking team.

Premier League immortality is within touching distance as Klopp’s men are already over halfway towards an unbeaten league season that would replicate the incredible feat of Arsenal’s 2003-04 Invincibles.

Even the strain of Liverpool’s sixth game in 16 days, which had left Klopp claiming he was down to 13 fit senior outfield players, couldn’t derail the leaders.

Liverpool hadn’t even kicked off when that number dwindled further as Naby Keita suffered a groin injury in the warm-up and was replaced by James Milner.

But Liverpool are far too polished to lose focus and they were in front within four minutes.

Flushed With Success

Their win at Bramall Lane in September had come thanks to a mistake from United keeper Dean Henderson and once again Liverpool benefitted from a Blades blunder.

When Virgil van Dijk played a long pass towards Andrew Robertson, it should have been easy for George Baldock to deal with.

But Baldock lost his footing and fell over, allowing Robertson to advance and cross low to Salah, who got in front of Jack O’Connell to steer in a clinical close-range finish for his 14th goal of the season.

David McGoldrick tried to drag United back into it with a dipping strike from the edge of the area that Alisson Becker tipped over.

Salah went close to a second when his instinctive half-volley was pushed over by Henderson at full stretch.

Ahead of their first visit to Anfield for 13 year, Chris Wilder’s down-to-earth side took the unusual decision to train alongside the public on Stanley Park in the shadow of the famous stadium.

The session was interrupted when a dog decided to use one of the training cones as a toilet.

That unpromising omen proved apt as the visitors’ hopes of a shock result were flushed away.

Salah was a constant menace and he met Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb pass with a first-time drive that Henderson turned away for a corner.

Liverpool’s ability to press any opponent into submission and deliver the knockout blow with their lethal front three has made them virtually unplayable over the last 18 months.

United were the latest victims as Mane wrapped up the points in the 64th minute.

Running onto Robertson’s pass, Mane broke into the area and took Salah’s return pass before firing gleefully into the roof of the net after his initial shot was saved.

AFP

Arsenal Suffer Shock Defeat To Sheffield United In EPL

Sheffield United’s French striker Lys Mousset (C) scores the opening goal past Arsenal’s German goalkeeper Bernd Leno (R) during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on October 21, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Arsenal slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United as Lys Mousset condemned the Gunners to their latest away-day flop on Monday.

Unai Emery’s side are without an away Premier League win since the opening weekend of the season after failing to rise to the challenge posed by fired up United at Bramall Lane.

French forward Mousset, making his first Premier League start for United, punished poor Arsenal defending in the first half to score his second goal since signing from Bournemouth.

That was enough to send Arsenal crashing to just their second defeat of the season, ending an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

The north Londoners sit fifth in the league after a powder-puff performance that showed Emery’s rebuilding job is still a work in progress.

Under Emery, Arsenal have kept just two clean sheets in 24 away league matches and once again they wilted too easily in a hostile environment.

This was a signature win for the Blades after last season’s promotion and they sit proudly in ninth place, just three points behind Arsenal.

With the Bramall Lane crowd in full voice, a bruising clash got off to a contentious start when Arsenal defender Sokratis appealed in vain for a penalty after having his shirt tugged by John Egan.

United midfielder John Fleck was fortunate to escape with a yellow card from referee Mike Dean after crunching into Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Emery’s men should have taken the lead when Sead Kolasinac curled a perfect low cross towards Nicolas Pepe in the six-yard box, but the unmarked Ivory Coast winger completely miscued his shot.

 Pepe struggles 

It was the latest in a growing list of disappointing displays from Pepe, who has struggled to make an impact since his club record move from Lille in the close-season.

United made the most of that escape as Arsenal’s long-running set-piece issues resurfaced in the 30th minute.

Oliver Norwood’s corner reached Jack O’Connell at the far post and he rose above Matteo Guendouzi to head down to Mousset, who poked home from virtually on the line after Granit Xhaka failed to react to the danger.

Damningly, Arsenal have conceded 22 league goals from set plays since the start of last season, with only Watford (25) and Everton (24) allowing more.

Bukayo Saka tried to lead the Arsenal response with a surge into the United area, but the teenager went to ground too easily and earned a booking for diving.

Xhaka almost conjured an equaliser with a dipping long-range effort that Dean Henderson pushed away at full stretch.

Mesut Ozil was once again left out of the Arsenal squad and, with Aubameyang anonymous, Emery sent on Dani Ceballos for Joe Willock at half-time for an injection of creativity.

The on-loan Real Madrid midfielder should have equalised when he shot weakly at Henderson from Saka’s cross.

Always creaky at the back, Arsenal were nearly caught when Fleck thudded into the side-netting and then forced Bernd Leno into an unconvincing save.

Alexandre Lacazette came on with 22 minutes left for his first appearance since suffering the ankle problem that had ruled the Arsenal striker out since the start of September.

For all their territorial dominance in the closing stages, Arsenal lacked composure in the final third.

Pepe curled just wide and Kolasinac headed over as the visitors’ frailties were laid bare.

AFP

Capital One Cup: Man Utd, Man City Get Home Draws In Round 4

capital-one-cupManchester United and Manchester City have been rewarded with home draws in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.

Louis Van Gaal’s side will host Championship side, Middlesbrough, having eased past Ipswich 3-nil at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Manchester City will welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium, while Sheffield Wednesday’s reward for beating Newcastle United is a home game against Arsenal.

There are four other all Premier League ties with Everton playing Norwich, Southampton paired with Aston Villa and Stoke hosting the holders, Chelsea.

Liverpool survived a scare against League Two side, Carlisle, squeezing through 3-2 on penalties at Anfield.

Liverpool will host Bournemouth in the next round.