Dean Henderson

Wilder laments VAR goal: ‘I don’t know where the game is going’

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Referees these days need to get off Chris Wilder‘s lawn.

The Sheffield United manager, author of an incredible season so far, could not wrap his head around VAR allowing Newcastle United’s second goal of a 2-0 defeat of his Blades at Bramall Lane on Thursday.

[ RECAP: Blades 0-2 Newcastle ]

Jonjo Shelvey kept running onto an Andy Carroll flick despite the linesman’s flag going up, and Stuart Atwell let Shelvey play to the whistle in beating Dean Henderson 1v1.

VAR review showed Carroll onside when he headed the ball, and the goal stood. Wilder says that’s not how he was told VAR would work, and that soccer is ruined because of it.

“The game has changed. This game now is completely different to what I experienced as a 16-year-old lad as an apprentice. This game in a heartbeat has changed. I don’t know where it is going and it is sucking the life out of me and the supporters.”

You can understand his frustration, of course, but really it’s more of a listen Henderson shouldn’t forget. Play it to the whistle, then complain if it ends up in the goal.

Atwell is the referee and has the right to overrule his linesman if he thinks there’s been a mistake. In the light of day, Wilder will understand a bit more. Surely he’ll get a similar call in the future.

Above statement aside, credit Wilder for a well-reasoned approach to why he’s upset with the call (It definitely didn’t help that Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka stood on his head in denying several terrific Blades chances).

“I was told at the start of the season that the linesman would not put his flag up and let it go. He put his flag up and the referee was about to blow his whistle,” he said. “Everyone in the ground stopped. Jonjo Shelvey even nonchalantly went up and took an opportunity. His body language said to me he had seen the linesman had put the flag up and he was going to be offside.”

What do you think? Should Atwell have blown the whistle? We tend to think no, but this is a democracy.

Newcastle takes three points at Sheffield United

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Allan Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey scored goals and VAR made its presence felt as Newcastle United toppled Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Its Newcastle’s fifth result from six following a loss to Chelsea, while Sheffield United sees the end of its seven-match unbeaten run.

The Magpies pull into 11th place with 19 points, two spots below the Blades on goal differential.

Sheffield United meets Norwich City on Sunday, when Newcastle hosts Southampton.


Three things we learned

1. Blades make rookie mistake in VAR era: The linesman’s flag was raised when Andy Carroll flicked a header into the Blades final third, but Shelvey kept running onto the ball and referee Stuart Atwell allowed play to continue into the 1v1 chance between the midfielder and Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson. Shelvey passed around Henderson and into the goal, the backstop apparently spotting the flag and assuming the call. Big mistake, as VAR negated the linesman’s flag.

2. Bruce rewarded for lineup risk, and ASM breaks down the door: Manager Steve Bruce pulled the plug on big money striker Joelinton‘s automatic spot in the Starting XI, installing veteran center forward and hometown hero Andy Carroll in that spot. Carroll was solid with Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron on his flanks, and won the pivotal assist in the second half.

Saint-Maximin is either the league’s best dribbler or a fixture in the debate, but he’s been unable to find the back of the goal whether through fine saves or misfired shots. Raise your hand if you had 50-50 header for his first Premier League marker. Didn’t think so. If this busts down the door, look out.

3. Magnificent Martin deserves a rest: Newcastle backstop Martin Dubravka was the biggest factor in the result, as the Slovakian national team goalkeeper was at his shot-stopping best. He was stopping all of the Olivers, with fine stops on McBurnie and Norwood in the first half and a well-controlled box in the second 45.

Man of the Match: Dubravka — Respect to Carroll, but the keeper made six saves on the night for a richly-deserved clean sheet.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

A deflection off Miguel Almiron forced Martin Dubravka into a fine reaction stop in the sixth minute.

Newcastle then had the ball for a spell without real threat, as Blades’ Oli McBurnie’s curl wide in the 15th minute was the next moment of danger for either side.

The Magpies scored soon after, Saint-Maximin rising high to thump a header inside the post after Andy Carroll laid off for Javi Manquillo‘s cross.

McBurnie then forced an incredible save out of Dubravka when George Baldock sent a terrific cross into the heart of the box.

Almiron gave away a dangerous free kick in first half stoppage time, but Dubravka was again there for a two-handed parry of Oliver Norwood‘s rip.

VAR made its voice heard in the 71st minute, when it ruled that

Wolves find equalizer versus Sheffield United

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Wolves and Sheffield United will both feel they’ve wasted chances following a 1-1 draw at the Molineux on Sunday.

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Matt Doherty equalized for Wolves after Lys Mousset gave the Blades a second minute lead.

Doherty celebrated by removing a black arm band and holding it aloft to acknowledge former teammate Benik Afobe, whose young daughter suddenly died Friday.

Wolves stay sixth, level on points with fifth place Spurs, while the Blades are one point back of both.


Three things we learned

1. Nuno gets it… wrong? Wolves’ steady boss has done well since adjusting to the Europa League grind, but his men looked pretty beat on Sunday after a Thursday return from an emotional 3-3 draw at Braga in Portugal. He made one change, Max Kilman for Romain Saiss in the back, and perhaps that’s the reason Wolves aren’t finding themselves in fifth.

Then again, we suppose you could argue that Wolves used nearly their best XI and needed it to get a point against Chris Wilder‘s pesky Blades. With Wolves having another home match on Wednesday against more potent West Ham, we lean toward the former idea, but there’s a case against it.

2. Raul Jimenez keeps coming: The Mexican striker continued his incredible run of form at the Molineux, taking an pass with his back to goal and working his way free to send an inch-perfect cross to the back post for Doherty to head past Henderson for 1-1. It’s Jimenez’s sixth assist to go with 15 goals in 25 appearances this season.

3. Wasted weekend for Wilder’s men: The newly-promoted Blades should be upset to not have all three points and sole possession of fifth place, which really should have us posting the Paul Rudd “Look at us” meme below. At the Molineux against a road-weary Wolves, the Blades lost their mojo in the second half. It wasn’t as dramatic as the drop-off following a 2-0 lead over Manchester United, but it was still disappointing from one of the league’s best stories.

Man of the Match: Jimenez.


The Blades went ahead through Mousset, who was first to a cross that was poorly-judged by multiple leaping Wolves.

He then won a dangerous free kick off Leander Dendoncker, but a training ground play yielded nothing.

Raul Jimenez got on the end of a Matt Doherty cross in the 13th minute, but Dean Henderson pushed the header over the goal.

Mousset slipped John Fleck on goal with a nutmeg of Dendoncker, but Rui Patricio was there for a good left-footed save.

David McGoldrick had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, but Patricio was again there.

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.

Mousset the super sub as Blades draw West Ham

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A festival of wasted chances mean both West Ham United and Sheffield United will rue their days in a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Irons veteran Robert Snodgrass saw his first half goal canceled out by substitute Lys Mousset.

West Ham moves ninth with 13 points, two places below the Blades on account of goal difference.


Three things we learned

1. Ink healthy Yarmolenko’s name on lineup card: We’ve written before of how good it’s been to see the former Dynamo Kiev and Borussia Dortmund playmaker thrive, but Andriy Yarmolenko looks as good as ever and needs to be an automatic starter for Manuel Pellegrini. His vision and touch to set up Snodgrass and Anderson was immaculate.

2. Mercurial Mousset the hero again: Le Havre Academy product Lys Mousset has had trouble delivering on his bags of talent during stints with both Bournemouth and Sheffield United, but came off the bench to continue a purple patch. Having scored the lone goal in beating Arsenal on Monday, he was back post to bound a shot across Roberto and into the goal for 1-1 with about 20 minutes to play.

It’s his third goal in eight PL matches for the Blades, the same number he scored in 58 PL apps for Bournemouth.

3. Wasteful from both in deserved draw: Between George Baldock‘s pair of miscues in the final third for Blades and Snodgrass’ missed back post finish late, this one could’ve seen either side score three or more goals on the day. The managers will have more shooting drills cued up this week.

Man of the Match: Yarmolenko, with a fair nod to industrious Declan Rice of West Ham and strong Sheffield United center back Chris Basham


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Sheffield United had a few chances and were the better money for a halftime lead, but the Blades were off the mark with finishing and the Irons also clogged shooting lanes fairly well.

The assist on West Ham’s opening marker was a thing of beauty, Yarmolenko well aware of Snodgrass and the space all around.

The Blades should’ve been level when George Baldock found himself in acres of back post space, but he took a touch and then his time before striking a hard shot that Irons keeper Roberto blocked and a teammate kept off the line.

Felipe Anderson came close to making it 2-0 in the 57th, but Dean Henderson did well to stop the Brazilian’s shot which was again set up by Yarmolenko.

Baldock missed another back post effort in the 62nd minute, covering his face with his hands at the bad Fortune.

Fortunately for him, Mousset arrived in the final 20 minutes to bound a back post effort past Roberto for a share of the points.