David McGoldrick

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Blades earn point at poor Spurs

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Sheffield United overcame one VAR incident to grab a point from Tottenham Hotspur in North London on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

George Baldock scored in the second half after snake-bit David McGoldrick had a goal pulled back for a toenail’s worth of offside. Fine margins.

Spurs were again quite poor aside from Heung-Min Son and some moments from Giovani Lo Celso. Son scored the goal.

Sheffield United remains sixth with 16 points, while Spurs also claim a 16th point but sit below their visitors on goal differential.


Three things we learned

1. VAR follows rules to perplex: Lundstram was offside by a toenail in the build-up, pulling back David McGoldrick’s goal that would’ve leveled the score at 1 (which of course it later was). The decision-making process slowed the game for several minutes, those thin lines calling back a goal that no team’s fans would feel was understandable. When is the moment the ball is struck, and how can you be certain enough to call it offside for centimeters.

2. Son continues to shine: Not only are puns really fun, but where would Spurs be this season without their South Korean star? Son scored a deserved goal and took six shots on the day, making three successful dribbles, and completing 21 of 23 passes.

3. Kane invisible: Maybe England’s star striker is still getting over the sickness that cost him a start against Everton, but Harry Kane was quite poor against the Blades’ disciplined back line. Good for just one shot and six of 12 passing. On a day when the two attackers underneath him were quite good, Kane was absent.

Man of the Match: McGoldrick — Should’ve had his first Premier League goal but will settle for the assist, we suppose. His day must be coming.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Giovani Lo Celso and Heung-min Son both came close for Spurs in a lively start, though cagey Sheffield United wasn’t overwhelmed by the venue either.

John Lundstram scuffed a 27th minute chance wide of the frame. Soon after, he smashed a Jack O'Connell cross off the post.

Son curled wide in the 50th minute as both sides started their second frames well, and in-form Lys Mousset turned Davinson Sanchez around before firing wide of the far post.

Dean Henderson made a fine save on Son in the 54th, but was left in a bad situation when abhorrent inactivity from the left side of his line gave the South Korean a clear cut chance. Given the day he was having, a goal felt inevitable.

But Blades had the ball in the net for an equalizer soon after, McGoldrick knifing home. A long VAR review followed for an offside in the build-up, and the slimmest of margins made it “clear and obvious” to… someone… that Lundstram was offside.

Baldock’s goal also had to withstand VAR review — don’t they all — when his shot took a slight turn off Ben Davies‘ rear end to beat Paulo Gazzaniga.

The story of the Premier League season in expected goals, points

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Human error and exceptional efforts mean that production often goes unrewarded in sports. It’s “why we watch” and why they don’t hand out trophies based on theory.

According to Opta, the expected goals (xG) “measures the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance.”

[ MORE: Emery attacker use in focus ]

Plenty of goals, like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s first touch, 11-yard shot from the center of the box against Wolves, are xG. Others, like Jonjo Shelvey‘s unruly, long free kick against West Ham, are not.

Many times, the xG data shows us a game very similar to the final score line. Take Manchester City’s 3-0 defeat of Aston Villa on Oct. 26, where Villa missed a big chance but things otherwise went exactly as expected given the chances produced by Pep Guardiola‘s men (Graphics via the exceptional twitter.com/MC_of_A)

Now consider Christian Pulisic‘s hat trick game for Chelsea at Burnley, a 4-2 win for the Blues, when some moments of individual brilliance from both teams transcended the ordinary means of production. In an xG world, the Clarets win 2-1.

So it’s stands to reason that the site UnderStat shows us an xG table quite off from the Premier League table. Here are the teams producing or failing to produce outcomes befitting their created chances.

NOTE: Excuse some of the word choices here. It’s tricky to deal in what “should” or is “expected” to happen without sounding a bit absurd. No match, player, team, or season is accurately depicted by numbers, but an 11-match sample size is as good a time as any to see who’s living a charmed or cursed life in the Premier League.

Individual leaders

The top five players in xG+xA per 90 minutes (min. 400 minutes) belong to Man City (Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne) with only Tammy Abraham of Chelsea stopping Bernardo Silva from making it six of six. Mohamed Salah is eighth, while Christian Pulisic and Marcus Rashford are ninth and 10th.

Teams beating xG

Leicester City‘s early season has been remarkable, and was so well before the Foxes hung nine goals on Southampton. Brendan Rodgers‘ prolific men have scored 27 goals this season, almost 13 more than expected. On one hand, that’s pretty magical. On another, it could be foreshadowing.

Spurs have 17 goals this season, almost five more than their xG total.

Sheffield United have conceded a miserly eight goals this season, and that’s almost seven fewer than xG.

Players in xG wilderness

Given his side’s “over-performance,” it’s not a surprise to see Jamie Vardy‘s 10 goals coming in about 5.48 more than his expected 4.52

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino is living in a different world, his three goals and three assists about 2 lower than expected. Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe is expected to have scored three goals this season, but has just one.

And how about Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick, who has not scored in 565 minutes but could have 3.31 goals according to the table? West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko is expected to have 3.28 assists, not one, while Miguel Almiron hasn’t delivered to the tune of 2.34 xG+xA

xG table, in points

According to xG, it’s not a big surprise that Man City should be leading the table. The two-time reigning champs and xG darlings gave 25 points, but were expected to claim about 27.

Meanwhile, Leicester (-6.83) and Liverpool (-8.3) are flying past their xG totals, and Newcastle (-4.13) isn’t far behind. Manchester United (+7.48), Everton (+6.82) and Watford (+9.16) are scratching their heads.

Here’s how the Top Six would look in an xG world:

  1. Man City, 26.8 xPTS (25 on real table)
  2. Liverpool, 22.7 xPTS (31)
  3. Manchester United, 20.48 xPTS (13)
  4. Chelsea, 20.41 xPTS (23)
  5. Everton, 17.82 xPTS (11)
  6. Brighton and Hove Albion, 16.31 xPTS (15)

Sheffield United ease past Burnley

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Sheffield United beat Burnley 3-0 at Bramall Lane on Saturday, as the Blades finally secured a thumping win in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

For most of this season Chris Wilder‘s side have impressed on the ball but haven’t taken their chances but they scored three times in the first half against Burnley, with John Lundstram scoring twice and John Fleck adding another.

Burnley barely threatened as Sean Dyche‘s side lost a third-straight game, while Sheffield United move up to sixth on 16 points.


3 things we learned

1. Lundstram delivers: He’s now scored four goals in the Premier League this season and

2. Free-flowing Blades prevail: Sheffield United had scored three home PL goals all season, but they scored three in the first 45 minutes in a real breakout day for Wilder’s side. They have threatened this all season long and they should gain huge confidence from a comfortable win against Burnley.

3. Burnley’s defensive problems: The Clarets have now let in nine goals in their last three games and that is unlike them. Sheffield United’s movement caused them problems and Burnley were dragged all over the place. Dyche will not be happy with this very un-Burnley like display.

Man of the Match: John Fleck – Scored one goal and was superb in the engine room to continue his recent good form. The Scotsman was everywhere.


Lundstram put Sheffield United 1-0 up to continue his fine start to the season and Burnley had a penalty appealed looked at by VAR but nothing was given.

Soon after Lundstram got his and Sheffield United’s second, as he finished off a flowing move as Enda Stevens crossed for the midfielder to tap home.

The goals kept coming as Fleck made it 3-0 before the break after Lys Mousset played him in. The Scotsman finished superbly to cap off a wonderful first half for the Blades.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Ashley Barnes was found unmarked but he skied it over the bar as Burnley’s best chance of the game came and went.

Sheffield United continued to look dangerous as Nick Pope denied David McGoldrick and the Blades kept pouring forward.

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Arsenal

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Arsenal looks to rise back to third in the Premier League table as they travel to Bramall Road to take on Sheffield United live on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Blades have lost their last three home games but have looked up for the task against other top Premier League sides this season and are hoping to finally secure the upset they’ve been searching.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Gunners have named a nearly unchanged side from the pre-international break win over Bournemouth, with just Joe Willock coming in for Dani Cabellos in midfield. Alexandre Lacazette returns to the bench for an opportunity at a late appearance that would mark his first minutes since September 1. Kieran Tierney remains on the bench with Sead Kolasinac preferred at left-back, while Calum Chambers starts at right-back with Hector Bellerin not named in the squad.

[MORE: Preview Sheffield United v. Arsenal ]

For Sheffield United, Lys Mousset comes into the squad for Oli McBurnie, who misses out thanks to a knee injury picked up on international duty, while his DUI charge last night certainly didn’t help his chances for selection. David McGoldrick is Mousset’s strike partner with Callum Robinson dropped to the bench as well, while captain Billy Sharp can only make the bench. Chris Wilder deploys a three-at-the-back system yet again with George Baldock and Enda Stevens playing out wide on the flanks.

LINEUPS

Sheffield United: Henderson; Baldock, Stevens, Fleck; O’Connell, Basham, Lundstram, Egan, Norwood, McGoldrick, Mousset.
Bench: Freeman, Jagielka, Besic, Moore, Robinson, McBurnie, Sharp.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, David Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.
Bench: Martinez, Holding, Tierney, Torreira, Ceballos, Martinelli, Lacazette.

PL Preview: Sheffield United v. Arsenal

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  • Arsenal has 1 loss in its last 11 Monday matches
  • Sheffield United has 7 goals this PL season from 7 different goalscorers
  • The Blades have not lost 4 home league games in a row since 1965

Arsenal has the opportunity to jump third in the Premier League table and earn early title considerations as they visit pesky Sheffield United on Monday, with kickoff set for 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Sheffield United v. Arsenal ]

The Gunners are currently fifth with 15 points but can leap in front of both Chelsea and Leicester City with victory at Bramall Lane. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in fabulous goalscoring form with seven strikes through the first eight matches of the Premier League season, set to lead the lines again on the road.

Unai Emery has one big question ahead of the match, with Alexandre Lacazette close to a return from his ankle injury but still unsure of his fitness level. The Frenchman netted twice in three matches to start the season but has not featured since September 1. If he is only fit for the bench, 18-year-old Bukayo Saka could see another start on the wing after a bright performance against Bournemouth, or Emery could choose to move Dani Ceballos out to the wing and slide Lucas Torreira into the midfield. Mesut Ozil could also be an option but he has been a periphery player for Emery this year.

Sheffield United sits 15th in the table, just a point above the relegation zone, but the Blades have been a difficult out for Liverpool, Chelsea, and Leicester City already this season and seem poised to pull off a surprising result at some point soon. A trio of internationals returned from duty this past week with injuries, leaving Chris Wilder with some decisions to make. The most obvious seems to be leaving striker Oli McBurnie on the sidelines having been charged with a DUI over the last 24 hours as well as picking up a knee problem over the international break. That would most see either Lys Mousset or Billy Sharp to take the striker role alongside Callum Robinson.

The Blades have been better on the road than at home, having lost their last three at Bramall Lane. Wilder must figure out how to galvanize his team to play in front of the home fans instead of just playing road spoiler where they almost seem more comfortable.

Injuries/suspensions

Sheffield United: QUESTIONABLE – John Fleck (knee), Oli McBurnie (knee), David McGoldrick (groin).

Arsenal: QUESTIONABLE – Alexandre Lacazette (ankle).


Projected lineups

Sheffield United: Henderson; Stevens, O’Connell, Egan, Basham, Baldock; Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram; Robinson, Sharp.

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Bellerin; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.


What they’re saying

Sheffield United manager Wilder on team form: “I thought we played well against Liverpool but we need to pick up something from the game this time and we believe we can do that. We went after Liverpool when we could and picked our times, and we will do that against Arsenal.”

Arsenal boss Emery on Mesut Ozil: “I am really happy with the players. The last two, three, four weeks, every player – and Mesut Ozil – is working very well. This is why we can be positive and we can think we are going to do something important this year.”


Prediction

This game has the potential to be a lot of fun as both sides play a fluid style of possession and pace. Arsenal will have to keep an eye on Robinson as the 24-year-old has the ability to find spaces between defenders, and David Luiz in particular hasn’t been in great form. Still, Sheffield United has a few key injuries that threaten the midfield, and that will ultimately doom them to a 3-1 loss as Aubameyang picks up two more goals.