Football Features

Wolves 1-1 Sheffield Utd: Winners and losers as ‘top-six contenders’ share the spoils at Molineux

By Ben Green

Published: 20:48, 1 December 2019

Sheffield United extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to seven games after drawing 1-1 with Wolves on Sunday.

The Blades made a blistering start to the game after Lys Mousset found the back of the net within minutes of the opening whistle, before the visitors squandered further chances to extend their lead just before the break.

And Chris Wilder’s side were made to rue those missed opportunities as Wolves rallied after the restart and pegged back the South Yorkshire side, finding an equaliser in the 64th minutes thanks to attacking wing-back Matt Doherty.

It was a well-fought point apiece at the Molineux, but who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Lys Mousset

For all the praise we lavish on Eddie Howe, there have been one or two moments where his judgment on players has come into question, notably allowing both Tyrone Mings and Mousset to leave Bournemouth in the summer. Both have flourished in the Premier League this season and it really makes you wonder why they weren’t provided greater opportunities on the South Coast.

As for the latter, he was sensational once again as Sheffield United held firm against Wolves this weekend. In the previous meeting against Manchester United, Mousset was the star of the show as he bullied Phil Jones and raised questions of Harry Maguire. It was no coincidence that Sheffield Utd’s seven-minute capitulation coincided with his forced withdrawal in the 3-3 thriller.

And he picked up where he left off against the 13-time Premier League champions by making an early breakthrough this afternoon, taking the ball down exquisitely from George Baldock’s delivery before guiding the ball past Rui Patricio from 10 yards out.

It was an assured finish from the club’s in-form man and top scorer, meaning he has now found the back of the net in four of his last six top-flight games, as well as netting five in five starts. Not bad for a forward once considered a flop at Bournemouth.

Loser: David McGoldrick

The seasoned striker is a vital cog in Wilder’s well-oiled operation, having started 10 Premier League games this season, but McGoldrick must now start to find his shooting boots if the Blades are to have aspirations of genuinely pushing for a top-six finish.

McGoldrick is yet to score a Premier League goal this season, but could have had a handful this afternoon. However, he missed some excellent chances, particularly in the second half, and Sheffield Utd walked away with just a point when really it should have been three.

There can be no questioning the importance of McGoldrick to this side, with his link-up play and general movement in the final third imperative to Wilder’s system, but if he can add a goalscoring string to his bow, then Sheffield Utd may find themselves climbing even higher in the table.

Winner: Matt Doherty

Someone who is definitely not shy in front of goal right now, though, is Wolves right-wing-back Doherty, who netted the equaliser this afternoon to salvage a point for the hosts.

As Raul Jimenez drifted out wide, his pinpoint cross picked out Doherty, who found plenty of room to head home past Dean Henderson, meaning the Irish defender has now scored in consecutive games.

Doherty netted the second in Wolves’ 3-3 Europe League draw with Braga on Thursday, while he also scored his first for Ireland over the international break, making it three goals in four matches for the defender.

What’s more, Doherty has now scored six Premier League goals since Wolves gained promotion to the Premier League – Virgil van Dijk (7) is the only defender in that time with more.

Loser: Arsenal and Man Utd

On an afternoon where Wolves, Sheffield Utd, Arsenal and Man Utd – four teams currently in the hunt for a top-six finish – all took to the field, the latter duo will certainly feel that this weekend was a wasted opportunity to strengthen their top-six aspirations.

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As Wolves and Sheffield Utd shared the spoils, so too did Arsenal with strugglers Norwich City, and Man Utd with Aston Villa, meaning all four clubs remain in a similar position to how they started before a ball was even kicked this morning.

It means just two points separates all four clubs, but you wouldn’t bet against Wolves and Sheffield Utd finishing the season stronger, given the cohesion, structure and discipline in both playing squads.

The same certainly cannot be said of the Arsenal and Man Utd dressing rooms at present.

Winner: Nuno Espirito Santo

This was a match billed as a battle between two coaches tipped to become manager of the year contenders, and showed exactly why Espirito Santo is being linked with the vacant Arsenal job.

The Portuguese tactician recently masterminded progression to the last-32 in the Europa League with Wolves on Thursday, and has now continued his side’s revival after an uncharacteristically poor start to the campaign.

Despite going a goal down, Wolves demonstrated their ‘never say die’ attitude and fought their way back into this contest. The West Midlands club never panicked, stayed calm and stuck to their task, culminating in Doherty’s eventual equaliser.

And that is exactly the sort of mentality needed at the Emirates. A resilient mental fortitude; players who are willing to fight tooth and nail for their manager; and an aura of composure in times of adversity.

This was also Wolves’ eighth league draw this season, making them something of a stalemate specialist, while Espirito Santo fielded Max Kilman, making him the first former England futsal player to play a full game in the top flight.