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Premier League March Madness
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Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Handicapping the Elite Eight of Premier League March Madness

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Everton, stand up.

The Toffees scored the major upset of the first round of our week of Premier League March Madness, eliminating Manchester United to advance to our Elite Eight.

Voting in the quarterfinal round begins Wednesday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League. Our editor JPW said “they have effectively won the NIT,” to which we add, “a very rich NIT!”

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the next four matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Tuesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 9 Arsenal
No. 4 Chelsea v. No. 12 Everton
No. 3 Leicester City v. No. 6 Wolves
No. 2 Man City v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

For what it’s worth, your noted handicapper only scored winning projections on four of the eight pre-quarterfinals.

There were only two significant upsets, which either show the respect voters gave this season’s on-field performance or a vast hatred of Manchester United and Spurs.

Maybe that’s true on the United front, but Arsenal’s power as a sort of sleeping giant bodes well for its match-up with Liverpool. That said, the Reds’ faithful is fired up for this online poll title before the much bigger title to come, and their season will make anyone but Arsenal fans think before voting against them.

Chelsea and Everton is a pretty tasty match-up, too, with both sides proving they can take down loyal and big fan bases. I like Everton to come up with the goods again, carrying a bit more momentum with voters than Chelsea’s easy-enough topping of Newcastle.

Wolves impressed in beating Palace, and a Twitter follower rightly mentioned that they have significant El Tri backing this side of the proverbial pond. Is that enough to knock out Leicester City? It’ll be tight, but we’ll say yes.

Man City should waltz past Sheffield United, but this is the sort of fixture in which both teams have surprised this season. Still, we’ll give it to Pep’s virtual men, just.

What we love about Sheffield United

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up it is Sheffield United.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to focus on the Blades.


Chris Wilder: The local lad done good. Chrissy Wilder has taken his boyhood club from the third division to the upper echelons of the Premier League in a few seasons and has done it with a clear playing philosophy and a no-nonsense attitude. Ask any player or manager who has got on the wrong side of Wilder. They will not have forgotten. Wilder has put in the hard graft at multiple lower league clubs over the years and is making the most of his opportunity to manage in the top-flight. His hunger and grit is visible throughout his playing staff and what Wilder says goes. The fans adore him and chant his name and if he wasn’t Sheffield United’s manager he would be watching Sheffield United in the stands with them. That is why we love Chrissy Wilder.

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Overlapping center backs: One of the main reasons Wilder has had success at his hometown club is due to his interesting and revolutionary tactics. Overlapping center backs is now a term synonymous with the Blades and they have taken the Premier League by storm by overloading out wide. Often you will see Chris Basham, John Egan and Jack O’Connell meander forward and support attacks and this works because midfielders John Fleck and Oliver Norwood sit deep and cover. Sheffield United are a well-oiled machine and the majority of this squad have been playing together for at least two full seasons. Continuity helps and even though everyone knows about overlapping center backs, Premier League have struggled to figure it out.

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Their dramatic European push: That shows as Sheffield United sit in seventh place, five points off fourth place, with nine games to go. The Blades are having an incredible first season back in the Premier League after their promotion to the top-flight and they are tough to beat and eight of their 11 wins have been by one-goal margins. Sheffield United are well in the race to qualify for the Europa League and if fifth-place ends up being a Champions League spot then they are well in the hunt for UCL qualification too. Behind Liverpool winning the title, Sheffield United qualifying for Europe will be the story of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

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Steel City swagger: There’s a likeable arrogance and confidence about this Sheffield United team. England’s Steel City has fallen on tough times in recent decades but Sheffield is a tough and proud city. The Blades are an extension of that and right now they are the pride of Yorkshire with Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and Hull City in the Championship. From Billy Sharp’s poaching and Chris Wilder’s masterful management, two locals are leading Sheffield United’s charge up the Premier League and that is so rare in this day and age. That is why the fans, players and staff all feel so connected and the feel-good spirit continues at Sheffield United. Bramall Lane has been bouncing all season long.

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Henderson, Sharp help Blades past Norwich City

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Someone old and someone (relatively) new led Sheffield United past Norwich City 1-0 on Saturday at Bramall Lane.

Veteran Billy Sharp scored a first-half goal and young loanee Dean Henderson made key saves as Blades rose sixth with 43 points.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Norwich City couldn’t make it two wins on the bounce, and the Canaries sit six points clear of the drop zone.


Three things we learned

1. Henderson stands tall (even while stooping low): The Manchester United loanee made four saves, all of them inside the box in laying further claim to an England spot. He’s also raising his price tag and perhaps forcing his parent club to consider his future. Look at this late work on Saturday.

2. Canaries a bit better, but missing edge: Norwich came close to a result, even managing five shots on target to the hosts’ four. They took 12 shots to United’s 10 and has 59 percent of the ball, though there will be few moral victories this close to relegation and the end of the season.

3. Sharp edge to the hosts: The Blades’ 34-year-old striker snared another big goal. He only has three this season, but two provided wins after the first was an point-earning marker in United’s first match back in the top flight. He knows his way around the box, with 243 senior goals.

Man of the Match: Henderson


Max Aarons was injured early for the Canaries.

Teemu Pukki smashed a chance off the back post on an early Norwich corner.

Blades had the first two shots on target of the match including Sharp’s goal, the 34-year-old scoring for the third time in four matches across all competitions.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

John Lundstram collected the assist, another strong step in reclaiming his midfield place following the signing of Sander Berge.

Blades defender Chris Basham came closest to making it 2-0 in the second half, and Henderson’s double save was the other flash point of the second frame.