Sheffield United players fight among themselves in defeat at Wolves

Jack Robinson and Vinícius Souza square up after Wolves scored the winning goal at Molineux

Premier League: Wolves 1 Sheffield United 0

When Gary O’Neil arrived at Wolves four days before the start of the Premier League season after Julen Lopetegui’s shock resignation, many were expecting Molineux to be the stage for a lengthy battle for survival. Wolves have, however, confounded expectations, securing their 11th win of the season – a tally no team has been relegated with in a 38-game season – thanks to Pablo Sarabia’s goal against a feisty Sheffield United.

Relegation is an inevitability for Chris Wilder’s side after a 19th defeat of the season. They had more than enough chances to secure a point but were unable to take any and most notable involvement saw a VAR review for a red card after team-mates Jack Robinson and Vinícius Souza clashed, resulting in them rutting heads before pushing and shoving.

Wolves spent the opening half an hour in complete control and there was little evidence that the two teams should be in the same division. Despite dominating possession, Sheffield United goalkeeper Ivo Grbic’s main involvement was wasting time on goalkicks as Wolves failed to threaten the net.

Rhian Brewster was recalled to the starting line-up for Sheffield United by Wilder but it became clear why the club’s record striker had scored five goals in his previous 74 appearances for the Blades. A long Robinson throw reached him at the back post, his first shot was blocked by Craig Dawson and the second palmed clear by José Sá to offer some hope that the visitors were part of the contest.


The striker had another chance when sent through one-on-one to put Brewster under pressure and he fluffed his lines. James McAtee had a similar experience after latching on to a direct pass over the top but he scuffed his shot with Dawson breathing down his neck, allowing Sa to gobbled up at the second attempt.

For all of Wolves’ positives this season, they seem a little unnerved by having all the possession. Pedro Neto looked the most likely to inspire a goal but when the opener did come from the left on the half-hour it was Ryan Aït-Nouri who cut inside to clip a cross into the box that an unmarked Pablo Sarabia was allowed to flick home. It was all far too easy.

The simplicity of the goal might explain why Robinson let his frustration with Souza show, pointing and shouting before coming together. When Wilder was appointed in December, he called on his players to “get off the ropes” and “swing some punches”. He might not have meant he wanted fisticuffs mid-match in the full glare of the public but at least it was an indication the two cared.

Souza did have at least one friend on the pitch, wandering down the tunnel with former Flamengo team-mate João Gomes at half-time, swapping shirts as they went. It is hard to believe there would be much clamour for the duo’s attire amid the cauldron of a must-win match for Sheffield United.

Wilder’s side were producing constant pressure in the Wolves box but without the cutting edge to produce a perfect chance. Robinson’s missiles regularly caused issues as Sa’s goal led a charmed life but there is a reason Sheffield United have scored the fewest in the league this season. The Blades need to show more composure, whether it’s in front of goal or when confronting team-mates, not that it will save them from the drop at this stage. – Guardian