Fleck leads Blades to easy victory against Villa

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Sheffield United beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Bramall Lane on Saturday as John Fleck was the hero for the Blades.

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The Scotsman struck twice in the second half as Villa struggled throughout.

With the win Sheffield United moved up to fifth and have 25 points, while Villa stay on 16 points.


3 things we learned

1. Blades get the job done: For most of this season Sheffield United have been really good to watch. They were dangerous when they got the ball wide but this wasn’t one of their better displays. Chris Wilder wants to get to 40 points as soon as possible and they are now 15 points away from that target. The Blades are solid defensively and force opponents to play their game with their wide players causing all kinds of problems. George Baldock in particular was brilliant and the Blades have taken the PL by storm.

2. Villa lackluster in attack: Villa have lacked cutting edge all season long and this game summed it up. Wesley was anonymous in this game and Grealish headed wide and hit the crossbar with a penalty kick. Villa have lost six of their last eight with just one win in that run and Dean Smith‘s side are in a relegation scrap. There’s no doubt about that.

3. Sheff United dreaming of Europe: This win moved them up to fifth, momentarily, and the Blades have now given themselves a huge lead over the teams stacked up in the bottom half. Their aim at the start of the season was to stay out of the bottom three but now it should be about pushing on for a seventh-place finish to qualify for Europe.

Man of the Match: John Fleck – Two great finishes and his midfield running caused Villa problems all game long. He keeps popping up in dangerous spots in the box. A real unsung hero.


A slow start in the Steel City saw the home side have plenty of the ball, with John Fleck and Lys Mousset linking up well.

The Blades dominated the ball as Villa struggled to get going in attack in a tight, tense first half at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United put in plenty of crosses but Villa dealt comfortably with the wide threat as Kortney Hause blocked one effort well.

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Oliver Norwood whipped in a lovely cross at the start of the second half but David McGoldrick got his finish all wrong.

The home side then got the goal their dominance deserved as John Lundstram crossed and Fleck flicked home his third goal in his last four home games, as the Blades scored with their first shot on target.

A rare Villa attack saw Wesley go close as the visitors finally got going late in game, with Jack Grealish heading a chance just wide at the back post.

Hause then caught McGoldrick with a high challenge as he was booked, and moments later Sheffield United doubled their lead. Fleck ran into the box and McGoldrick flicked a brilliant ball over his own head to pick out the Scotsman to slot home his and Sheffield United’s second.

Villa were then awarded a penalty kick after a lengthy VAR check for handball, but Grealish smashed it against the bar to sum up a terrible outing for Villa.

McGoldrick could have finished a few chances late on but it was a deserved win for the Blades as they continue their fine return to the top-flight.

Liverpool youngster Elliott scores bicycle kick goal in reserve match

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Harvey Elliott came to Liverpool via Fulham as highly rated as youngsters come. He’s got plenty of maturing still to do both on and off the field, but his talent is undoubtable.

That was on display as Liverpool’s reserve squad took on Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Premier League 2 fixture. Just after halftime, Elliott leveled the score at 2-2 with a stunning bicycle kick at the near post on a corner. The skill it took to essentially catch up to the ball as it floated parallel past him was fabulous, and his strike was true as it caught the Wolves goalkeeper off guard, unable to catch up to the pace of the shot.

The 16-year-old has been a regular for the Liverpool first-team squad in Cup matches but has then taken the field for the U-23 squad to get him some playing time, and clearly it’s done wonders.

Elliott came over from Fulham this past summer for an undisclosed fee given his age. He had already become the youngest player to appear in a Premier League game, coming on for the Whites in a game in May against Wolves with relegation looming.

Watch Live: West Ham United v. Liverpool

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After weeks of having a game in hand on Premier League title chasers Manchester City and Leicester City, the full extent of Liverpool’s lead will be revealed when the Reds visit West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Once the full-time whistle blows at the London Stadium, all 20 PL sides will have played 24 games. Ahead of kickoff, Jurgen Klopp‘s side leads second-place Man City by a whopping 16 points.

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West Ham, meanwhile, sit 17th in the table and are only clear of the relegation zone by way of goal differential. That’s something that could very easily change between now and 5 p.m. ET.

LIVE, League Cup semifinal: Man City v. Man United

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It’s time for leg two of the Manchester derby in the semifinals of the EFL Cup (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET) at the Etihad Stadium.

[ LIVE: Man City v. Man United ]

Manchester City lead 3-1 following their first-leg dismantling of Manchester United at Old Trafford. In theory, it’s a mere formality to reach the final at Wembley, where they would take on Aston Villa following their late dramatics on Tuesday.

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have you covered here at Pro Soccer Talk with all of the reaction and analysis.

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Transfer rumor roundup: Richarlison to Barca for $110m? Spurs’ striker search

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


A roundup of all of the major transfer rumors, most notably those involving Premier League clubs, on Wednesday…

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Barcelona have reportedly had a $110-million bid for Richarlison rejected by Everton. That’s a mind-blowing number for a club like Everton to receive, but the Toffees apparently didn’t have to think long before saying “thanks, but no thanks.” Luis Suarez is expected to miss four months due to a knee injury, leaving the Blaugrana somewhat for a replacement. Everton, however, have no desire to lose a key member of their squad with little to no time to sign a replacement.


After adding winger Steven Bergwijn on Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur are heavily linked with a number of strikers as options to replace the injured Harry Kane. AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek is the most frequently linked (and most expensive) player coming out of the rumor mill, while Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has come up as an emergency option (he is reportedly open to the idea). However, Jose Mourinho has reportedly been told he has just $13 million to acquire a new forward after spending a combined $108 million on Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes.


Elsewhere in Tottenham rumors, full back Kyle Walker-Peters is expected to complete a loan move (without an option to buy) to Southampton in the very near future. The 22-year-old has been on the fringe of the first-team squad for what feels like five years now, but has never quite broken through. This could be Spurs putting into the shop window a player who they don’t believe is in their long-term plans in order to drive up his price tag come this summer.


Sheffield United look set to make a big push for a top-six finish, as the Blades are linked with moves for a pair of highly rated young players: Richairo Zivkovic, from Chinese side Changchun Yatai, and Sander Berge, from Genk. Zivkovic was one of the most highly touted youngsters in Europe before moving to China on a big-money deal; Berge has been linked with some of the biggest clubs across Europe in recent years, all the while the 21-year-old has become a fixture for the Belgian side.