Aston Villa remained within striking distance of the Championship top six with a bonkers three-goal comeback to earn a 3-3 draw against third-placed Sheffield United.
A hat-trick from Billy Sharp had Sheffield 3-0 up just past the hour mark, but the home side was not finished at Villa Park, with three goals in the final eight minutes-plus from Tyrone Mings, Tammy Abraham, and Andre Green sealing the remarkable comeback.
Sharp’s goals were all too easy, with the third capping off the comedy of errors in the 62nd minute as he remained remarkably open at the back post to head home a lofted cross by Kieran Dowell. From there, however, Aston Villa completely turned things around.
With the home side turning on the afterburners, Villa out-passed Sheffield in the attacking third 57-24 and out-crossed the visitors 14-0. They got on the board in the 82nd minute as Mings headed in a corner from close range, and bagged the second four minutes later as he tapped in the rebound of a saved Glenn Whelan free-kick.
Finally, with time winding down, Villa equalized in the fourth minute of stoppage time as John McGinn latched ontoJack O’Connell’s whiffed clear and sent in a right-footed cross from just outside the six-yard box. Green rose high above his defender George Baldock, and headed into the back of the net as Villa Park exploded.
The draw pulls Aston Villa within three points of a playoff position, although they have played two games more than most teams directly above them. For Sheffield, the dropped points are enormous, as a win would have brought them above both Norwich City and Leeds United into the Championship lead on goal differential. Instead, they remain in third two points back.
A report in the Daily Express suggests that Arsenal are the frontrunners for the Algerian midfielder but Leicester’s asking price of close to $65 million could be a major stumbling block.
Mahrez, 26, scored 10 goals in the 2016-17 season but suffered a slump in the Premier League (even though his performances in the UEFA Champions League were remarkably better) 12 months after being named the PFA Player of the Year as he led Leicester to a remarkable PL title win.
Now the winger wants to move on and the likes of Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco appear to be at the front of the queue.
West Brom’s captain, 33, is out of contract this summer and the Scottish international midfielder will join the Potters on July 1 when the transfer window reopens. The Daily Mail claims Fletcher had offers from Major League Soccer and Spain, but decided to remain in the PL.
Fletcher spent his entire career at Manchester United before falling down the pecking order after many injuries and eventually he left for West Brom in Ferbruary 2015. While at the Baggies, Fletcher has impressed with all-action displays in midfield but now it appears he will move on.
Being closer to Manchester is probably a big reason for this move, plus Fletcher would be an upgrade on Stoke’s other two-way midfield options, Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan. Adam has an option of extending his deal at Stoke for another year, while Whelan is out of contract next summer but both could well move on with Fletcher coming in.
Alongside Geoff Cameron in central midfield, Fletcher would be able to dovetail with the U.S. national team star and both can get on the ball and surge forward but are also able to shield the defense.
Manchester City look to be closing in on Benfica goalkeeper Ederson Moraes.
The Brazilian stopper, 23, is said to be in Manchester awaiting the final details of the deal to be sorted out, while Benfica have released an official document to the Portuguese stock exchange stating that Ederson has been sold for a fee of $45 million.
They also revealed that half of that fee will go to “third parties” involved in the deal. The Brazil U-23 national team goalkeeper will become the second most-expensive goalkeeper in the world, behind only Gianluigi Buffon who moved from Parma to Juventus back in 2001 for over $50 million.
After the issues with Joe Hart being loaned out to Torino, plus Claudio Bravo struggling in his debut season in England, there was no doubting that Pep Guardiola needed to strengthen in goal, especially with veteran Willy Caballero out of contract and leaving City this summer.
Ederson will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders but after winning the Portuguese league and cup with Benfica this season — he has won five titles with the Lisbon club over the past two seasons — he will be high in confidence.