Chris Wilder

The 2 Robbies podcast: Wilder, Ancelotti, winter break, and Storm Ciara

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a deep dive into an unusual week in the Premier League. A combination of the winter break and storm Ciara disrupt an already staggered fixture schedule, the Manchester City match was postponed due to extreme weather (00:45).

Chris Wilder‘s Blades reclaim 5th spot (11:00). There were mixed fortunes for two of the elder statesmen of the Premier League, Carlo Ancelotti continued his Everton revival while Roy Hodgson failed to snap his winless streak (20:00).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

And finally, points were shared between Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford in a crucial relegation match-up (30:15).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Europe-seeking Sheffield United show ‘real belief and drive’ (video)

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Sheffield United did it again Sunday, claiming all three points in a 2-1 defeat of Bournemouth at Bramall Lane.

The match had a bit of everything, including threats of postponement as Storm Ciara wreaked havoc on football in Europe.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Blades went down early but got goals from Billy Sharp and John Lundstram to move back into fifth place on the Premier League table.

And now it’s simply impossible to ignore than Sheffield United may qualify for Europe in an even more impressive and improbable achievement than Burnley a couple of seasons ago.

“We’ve just rolled on and rolled onto the next game, took the defeats on the chin and tried to win the next game,” Wilder said. “We’re not a comfortable team and I’m not a comfortable manager. The points total, 39 points, at this stage of the season is fabulous from a promoted side but we go again. … We want to achieve something this season and we can’t take our foot off the gas. I know that and the players know that better than anybody. The performance today was that of real belief and drive.”

The match also saw manager Chris Wilder and Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman trade shoves on the touch line.

“I got a little bit frustrated, bits and pieces that went off this afternoon. I’m not used to it but maybe I need to get used to it a little bit more. It was nothing. We’re both passionate team and there’s certainly nothing between the benches.”

The Blades may well join Europe’s participants next season, and they’ll have a chance to collect more points with three bottom-half sides ahead, but the real test comes in the final eight fixtures. That’s when Sheffield United meets six Top Seven hopefuls.

Sheffield United comes back, bounces Bournemouth

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Sheffield United got a second-half equalizer from Billy Sharp to sting Bournemouth.

This one came Sunday at Bramall Lane as part of a 2-1 Blades win over the Cherries, some 25 matchdays after his opening day leveller at the Vitality Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

John Lundstram found the winner for the victorious Blades, getting an assist from ex-Cherries outcast Lys Mousset. United climbs into fifth with 39 points, two points behind Chelsea. The Blues have a match-in-hand.

Callum Wilson scored for Bournemouth, who remains two points clear of the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. Death, taxes, and Billy Sharp equalizing versus Bournemouth: If Blades veteran striker Sharp leaves the side after one year, there’s a distinct possibility he walks away with two Premier League goals. Both would be equalizers against Bournemouth. The two points earned by those may be the difference in Sheffield United’s case for Europe. The four points dropped on their account could send Bournemouth to the Championship.

Sharp has scored two other goals against the Cherries in his career. They came in January and December of 2006 for Scunthorpe United in League One.

2006. Sharp has played against Bournemouth with three separate teams in the Top Three levels of English Football (Leeds United in the Championship, no goals).

2. Lucky charm Lundstram scores in new role: John Lundstram lost his place in the Starting XI when Blades added record signing Sander Berge, but that didn’t stop him from affecting the proceedings. Lundstram came on for Berge in the 61st minute to snap in his fourth league goal, and the Blades are 5-0 when he scores or assists this season.

3. Feisty affair extends off the field: Fourth official Jon Moss had a busy day, first having to okay a pitch soaked by Storm Ciara and then having to break up a clash caused by Storm Wilder. Blades boss Chris was upset by remonstrations after John Egan was whistled for a foul on Dan Gosling, and Cherries veteran Andrew Surman was ready to get in the mix.

[ READ: Wilder reacts to scrum, Top Four effort ]

Man of the Match:  Sharp? United’s four best players on the day were either subs or subbed off: Berge, Lundstram, Sharp, Mousset. Team win.


A scrappy match early, Callum Wilson missed a back-post bid to make it 1-0 in the 11th minute.

Callum Wilson got his goal two minutes later, as Harry Wilson‘s shot was blocked and his surname-sharing striker belted the rebound into the top of the goal.

The Blades’ Billy Sharp couldn’t find an equalizer from a very tight angle in the 15th minute.

One of the most notable moments from the rest of the half was a venomous slide tackle on Harry Wilson by Enda Stevens which earned a yellow card.

Chances were few and far between on a weather-hobbled day, but Blades found their way in stoppage time.

A sequence of control saw Oliver Norwood‘s 45th minute hit turned off Nathan Ake but went wide of the frame and Aaron Ramsdale made a great save on the ensuing corner.

That’s when Sharp did his magic, located at the back post off another corner. He smashed home a pinball in the second minute of stoppage.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

John Egan was whistled for a foul after going boot-to-boot with Dan Gosling, leading to a touchline spat and yellow cards to Andrew Surman and Blades boss Chris Wilder.

Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser earned a 61st-minute corner that Ake snapped just wide of the frame.

Henderson then stopped another Fraser bid, this one a 71st-minute rocket from about 10 yards. That helped set up the moment for Lundstram’s winner off an assist from ex-Bournemouth man Lys Mousset.

PL Sunday preview: Bournemouth travel to Sheffield United; City host West Ham

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures promise to have a wide-range of action, as a pair of top-six sides host a pair of bottom dwellers.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Sheffield United vs. Bournemouth  — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

90 minutes against Bournemouth stands in the way from Sheffield United packing their bags and heading off to Dubai for a week-long winter break. 13 matches and a handful of wins also stands in the way from Sheffield United from qualifying for European competition next season.

The Blades, who are easily the healthiest side in the league, head into Sunday’s match with two thirds of a season for the ages: 36 points in 25 matches, one point behind fifth-place Tottenham – all on their first year back in the league.

Despite the European conversation around the Blades, the mythical 40-point mark remains the objective for Chris Wilder. Once there, they’ll take it one match at a time.

“Forty has always been a big number for a newly-promoted side,” he said leading up to Sunday’s bout. “After we get that it’ll always be about the next three points.”

Eddie Howe‘s Bournemouth, with two consecutive wins under their belts, could be in worse shape. The two-point cushion between (and the back-to-back wins) has been a morale boost for the side, which may be an x-factor on Sunday.

“I don’t think anything has necessarily changed,” Howe said. “We won the game against Brighton, it was a key game. It was a battling performance, a performance full of heart. Villa was a much-improved overall performance. The challenge now is to back it up.”

INJURIES: Sheffield United — OUT: None | Bournemouth — OUT: Danjuma (ankle), Brooks (ankle), Daniels (knee), Kelly (hamstring), Mepham (knee); SUSPENDED: Lerma (one match)

Manchester City vs. West Ham — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

You can’t talk Manchester City without brining up their 22-point deficit to leaders Liverpool. You just can’t. Not even Pep Guardiola was able to circumvent the conversation leading up to Sunday’s game against a depleted West Ham. 

“We cannot deny the gap is big,” he said. “We didn’t expect to be 22 points behind but it’s the reality. We have to accept it and learn from it.”

The question then becomes: Can Manchester City, without Raheem Sterling and all of its flaws, finish the season second best? Leicester City are currently only two points behind, while Chelsea have much ground to make up 10 points back.

It’s far too early to know the answer, but matches like Sunday’s at the Etihad, against inferior opponents, can’t be taken for granted. Guardiola and company have fallen for that too many times this season. They can’t afford to do so again, surely.

As expected, West Ham, who are desperately trying to get out of the relegation threat, are ready to leave it all out on the field, even if the odds stack against them. They have no choice.

“The ones coming up at the moment look much harder, but it’s where we are at the end of the season that will really count,” Irons manager David Moyes said ahead of Sunday’s clash.

INJURIES: Manchester City — OUT: Sané (knee), Sterling (hamstring); SUSPENDED: Zinchenko (one match) | West Ham — OUT: Felipe Anderson (back), Yarmolenko (thigh), Wilshere (hernia)

Sheffield United sign free agent Rodwell

Sheffield United
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Sheffield United have signed free agent Jack Rodwell on an initial six-month contract.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Rodwell, 28, has been training with the Blades over the last few weeks after not having a club since leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season. He was previously linked with a move to AS Roma in Serie A but that fell through and he has now ended up at Bramall Lane until the end of the 2019-20 season.

The former Everton, Man City and Sunderland midfielder has been plagued by injuries during his career and especially after he joined City in 2012. He was then painted as the villain in Sunderland’s Netflix documentary and his reputation took a big hit from that.

However, Blades boss Chris Wilder isn’t concerned about that and he’s had plenty of success in the past when talking players on trial or signing them up to short-term deals.

“There is a lot of nonsense that has been talked about Jack. Maybe the spotlight shouldn’t be shone on Jack, maybe it should be shone on a CEO (chief executive) at the time. I’m not a lover of fly-on-the wall documentaries, they’re always looking for a villain,” Wilder said. “From my point of view that’s history. All the boxes that I needed to tick, and Jack needed to tick, he has done. I’ve sat down with him for quite a long time and spoke about his career going forward, it aligns with the club’s goals. He plays a number of positions and hopefully we can get him going.”

Rodwell, who can play across midfield and defense, is delighted to have been given another chance in the Premier League.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity,” Rodwell said. “It is up to me now to do the business and hopefully we can get some good wins on the board. The whole process of the last few weeks was about me looking at Sheffield United, them looking at me and we go from there. I’m sure in a few weeks coming up the manager will be talking to me about different roles and other things. The team are doing brilliant now so it is up to me to force my way into the squad and the starting eleven.”

Picking up some extra cover on a free transfer is a smart move from Sheffield United and adding an extra bit of competition will help the Blades keep their performance levels high.

Wilder’s side have been a revelation in their first season back in the Premier League but the newly-promoted side now face a pivotal month or so as plenty of teams beneath them have picked up big wins over the festive period and the entire PL table has concertinaed.