Sheffield United stun Red Devils at Old Trafford / New Chelsea boss Tuchel debuts with a draw
Manchester United 1, Sheffield United 2 – Old Trafford
Manchester United's title-chasing effort received a blow when they were beaten 1-2 by a resurgent Sheffield United side at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side needing just 3 points to move to the top of the table showed none of the verve of their recent games as they allowed the visiting Blades to pick up only their second win of the season.
The Blades went into a shock 23rd minute lead through Kean Bryan who flicked John Fleck's corner past David de Gea. Anthony Martial had a goal ruled out a little later as the VAR adjudged Harry Maguire to have fouled Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
The second half began with Mason Greenwood dragging his effort wide after being put through by Bruno Fernandes. But Sheffield were getting more and more of the ball as David McGoldrick missed with an effort, hit with the outside of his boot and then blazed over in a one-on-one situation with De Gea.
Just when an equalizer seemed elusive for the Red Devils, Maguire atoned for his first-half infringement by powering in a header to make it 1-1 in the 64th minute. United's effort to build a momentum after the equalizer fizzled out as the visitors caught them napping at the back.
Nemanja Matic and Martial were casual in their attempt to get back quickly to defensive positions as the Blades found a lot of space to move in and around the rival box. John Lundstram had time to pick out Ollie Burke, whose shot hit defender Alex Tuanzebe and deflected past a hapless De Gea to make the score 1-2 in the 74th minute.
The hosts had 16 minutes in which they were expected to put pressure on the Sheffield goal. But it wasn't easy to break down the back three of Chris Basham, Ethan Ampadu and the experienced Phil Jagielka who in all accounted for 18 clearances between them and snuffed out any threat from the United attack.
Manchester United, registering their first Premier League loss after 14 games, remain on 40 points from their 20 outings and a point behind Manchester City who have a game in hand. Chris Wilder's Sheffield are still at the bottom, but there are some green shoots visible as far as their recent performances go.
The Old Trafford victory is their second from their three games in 2021, the previous being a 1-0 win over Newcastle on January 12th. With 18 games still remaining, Wednesday's victory will hopefully provide the Blades with ample opportunities to come out of the relegation zone.
Chelsea 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – Stamford Bridge
A hurriedly appointed Thomas Tuchel was able to conduct just one training session as Chelsea's new coach with the Blues failing to convert their dominance into a win over a depleted Wolves side. Chelsea executed 433 successful passes that was the most by any side under Tuchel in the first half of a top-flight game since May 2016.
Tuchel's appointment came in the wake of club legend Frank Lampard's sacking on Monday after the Blues managed just one Premier League win from five games. The 47-year old Tuchel was animated throughout, throwing his arms up in the air after Callum Hudson-Odoi clipped a cross to the back post only for Ben Chilwell to put it wide.
A similar reaction was repeated when Chilwell fired another chance over the bar and Mateo Kovacic went close from long distance.
The German coach started without Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham and begun with Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Olivier Giroud as his frontal attacking three. Not that it made any great difference as he had to replace them late into the second-half with Pulisic, Mount and Abraham.
The Wolves had nothing to show what with the hosts dominating 79 per cent of the possession but they did provide a late scare when Pedro Neto lifted the ball beyond Edouard Mendy, but winger's attempt fortunately landed on top of the bar.
Despite the barren result, Tuchel was enthused by his side's performance, which he felt warranted three points and also signalled that the Blues have tools in abundance to compete consistently domestically and in Europe.
For Nuno Espirito Santo, the Stamford Bridge draw was a bitter disappointment as his side failed to register even a single shot on target and have now gone through seven fixtures without a win.
Positioned at a dismal 13th on the table with 23 points, they are now only a point ahead of a fast-rising Burnley who pulled off a sensational 2-1 win over Aston Villa, their second in succession after the memorable 0-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield last week.
Chelsea are momentarily in the 8th spot with 30 points, same as 9th-placed Arsenal but are in danger of being displaced from the space by Aston Villa who with 29 points have played two games less.
Everton 1, Leicester City 1 – Goodison Park
A goalkeeping error from Everton custodian Jordan Pickford gifted visiting Leicester City a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park as both sides missed chances to move up the points table. James Rodriguez's superb strike in the 30th gave the Toffees the lead despite a Leicester side, without the injured Jamie Vardy, dominating the better part of the first half.
Everton opened the scoring when a diagonal pass from Andre Gomes intended for Rodriguez was blocked by Foxes defender Wesley Fofana who failed to keep control of the ball as it rolled on to the path of the Colombian playmaker who made no mistake as he curled his effort off the post.
The Foxes were dealt another blow just before the break when Wilfred Ndidi was replaced by an injured Nampalys Mendy, but it didn't hinder them much as they kept their dominance going well into the second half.
Pressure told on the Everton goal as Pickford let a low drive from Youri Tielemans slip through his grasp for the equalizer in the 67th minute. Toffees top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin who cut a lonely figure for most of the match, had a chance to seal three points for his side in the 90th minute but headed wide from Lucas Digne's cross.
James Maddison fluffed an opportunity in injury time, lifting an effort high over the crossbar as both sides settled for a point. The draw left Everton one point adrift of 5th-placed Liverpool's 34 but with two games in hand while Leicester remained in the 3rd spot with 39 points from 20 outings.