The Premier League has confirmed away fans will not be allowed to attend fixtures staged in the final two rounds of the 2020-21 season.

With a further relaxing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled in the United Kingdom on May 17, up to 10,000 supporters will be allowed inside grounds to watch games again.

The penultimate set of top-flight fixtures had been pushed back to midweek dates as a result, thereby making sure all clubs have one home outing under the new guidelines.

However, visiting fans will not be permitted inside the stadiums, a decision taken to make sure there is consistency across the board for all 20 teams.

"The Premier League last week confirmed fixtures have been rescheduled to provide an opportunity for each club to host one home game with supporters before the end of the season," a statement from the governing body said.

"Match round 37 will now be played on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST on Sunday 23 May, as planned.

"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance.

"The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.

"Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season."

Gareth Bale says the key to his improved form is down to playing more regularly since Ryan Mason replaced Jose Mourinho as Tottenham boss.

The Wales international scored his second Premier League hat-trick, and first since December 2012, in Tottenham's routine 4-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

He was a second-half substitute in last week's EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City, but the forward has started both league games under Mason, scoring four times in total.

That compares to five goals in 14 appearances under Mourinho in the Premier League this season, just six of those being starts.

And Bale, who is due to return to parent club Real Madrid at the end of the season for the final year of his contract, is glad to be enjoying his football again.

"You have to take your chances when they come so I'm feeling good," he told Sky Sports. 

"I just needed to play games and get a run of games and I'm doing that now. I'm happy and when I'm happy I play well.

"Winning always makes everyone happy and gives a winning mentality to the dressing room. It's not going to happen overnight but I feel we're taking a step in the right direction.

"It seems a while ago since the last hat-trick so it's nice to get it, but it is more important to get the three points."

Bale's three goals against Sheffield United came from six shots in total, five of those on target as he became the sixth Welshman to reach 50 Premier League goals.

Mason, who follows Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Glenn Hoddle in winning his first two Premier League games as Spurs boss, is unsure if "world class" Bale will stay on.

"That's a conversation for the end of the season," the caretaker boss told BBC Sport. "The priority and main aim now is the next game at Leeds.

"When you score a hat-trick you'll get the headlines. Everyone who has watched football over the past 10 years knows what he can do. His finishing was outstanding."

Son Heung-min rounded off the scoring for Tottenham, having earlier had one ruled out for a marginal offside, as they moved to within five points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Spurs have won back-to-back league games for the first time in two months and Mason was pleased with the response on the back of last week's cup final loss at Wembley.

"It was a disappointing game last week," he said. "We had a really good training week that allowed us to work with the team. The attitude and desire today was outstanding. 

"To couple it up with some of the quality, it was a really positive performance. The attitude, competitiveness, first balls, second ball, desire to fight for 90 minutes. 

"We stuck together and had some real moments of quality. It was a really pleasing performance and a positive night."

Despite the comfortable margin of his side's victory, Mason felt John Fleck was fortunate to avoid a red card for catching Giovani Lo Celso on the face with his studs early in the second half.

"I am so shocked that it wasn't a red card," he said. "I'm shocked the VAR team didn't at least tell the referee to have a look. I think it's a stonewall red card. 

"I don't think there's a clearer red card. You see the replay once and he's endangered an opponent. I cannot believe it wasn't given as a red card. It's avoidable."

Already-relegated Sheffield United have picked up just four points from a possible 51 away from home this season, losing 15 of their 17 such matches.

United have lost 27 of their 34 Premier League games this season - the most they have ever suffered in a single Football League campaign in their entire history - and caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom is not looking for excuses. 

"Spurs were ruthless on the counter, but where we lost the ball on occasions and how we conceded the goals was poor," he told BBC Sport.

"That is not a performance that we want to see. It was so passive and I can't wait until the fans are back in because in a stadium like this it's absolutely dead. We tried to generate our own atmosphere in the second half but the game ran away from us."

Gareth Bale surpassed 50 goals in the Premier League as his hat-trick saw Tottenham keep their top-four hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United.

With Chelsea having beaten Fulham on Saturday, the onus was on Spurs to claim three points against the relegated Blades to boost their Champions League ambitions, especially after seventh-place Liverpool saw their game at Manchester United postponed due to anti-Glazer protests by home fans.

Bale put the beaten EFL Cup finalists ahead with a deft finish in the first half before bringing up his half-century in the competition with an emphatic strike after good work from Son Heung-min.

The Real Madrid loanee completed his hat-trick with a low strike from the edge of the box before Son completed the rout with an excellent curling effort.

The visitors have now won just once in their past 26 Premier League games in London and saw goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale set a competition record of 27 consecutive away starts without keeping a clean sheet.

After a quiet opening, Son was denied by a fine Ramsdale save before Harry Kane shot low towards the right-hand corner only for Chris Basham to clear.

Sheffield United had begun to grow into the game when they were undone by a brilliant chipped pass from Serge Aurier, which allowed Bale to flick the ball left-footed over Ramsdale's head.

John Fleck was arguably lucky to escape punishment when he caught Giovani Lo Celso in the face with his studs when the Spurs midfielder was on the ground early in the second half.

Son thought he had doubled the lead after running onto a simple Toby Alderweireld long pass and blasting a shot beyond Ramsdale, but the goal was disallowed for a fractional offside.

Bale did make it 2-0, though, the Wales star rifling a strike into the top-right corner for his 50th goal in England's top flight after Son led the break from a Sheffield United corner.

His second Premier League hat-trick was completed eight minutes later as he wrong-footed Ramsdale with a crisp strike after Aurier teed him up on the edge of the penalty area.

Son added gloss to the scoreline with a superb strike that went in off the right-hand post, having earlier reached 10 league assists for the second season in a row.


What does it mean? Spurs can still believe in top-four chase

The result left Spurs five points behind fourth-place Chelsea with just four matches remaining, meaning they could yet snatch a Champions League spot.

However, with West Ham and Liverpool both able to climb above them should they win their games in hand, Spurs' chances of a return to Europe's top competition still appear slim.

For Sheffield United, who stay bottom on just 17 points, the season cannot end quickly enough.

Brilliant Bale

Bale's first Premier League treble since December 2012 highlighted the threat he still possesses in the attacking third – a threat too seldom seen for Spurs this season.

Still, if he can sustain such form over the final four games of the season and lead Spurs back into the Champions League, there will be few complaints from fans.

Brewster needs a booster

Rhian Brewster has now played 25 times in the Premier League this season without scoring, and his performance here made it easy to see why.

His only shot in a lifeless first-half showing was a speculative attempt that swerved closest to the corner flag, and he managed only 10 touches before being hauled off at the break.

What's next?

Spurs head to Leeds United and Sheffield United host Crystal Palace next Saturday.

It was a Premier League weekend in which the Premier League seemed to take a back seat, with Sunday's emergence of a European Super League blowing everything else out of the water.

However, Monday's sacking of Jose Mourinho did at least serve to remind us that, yes, Tottenham did play on Friday and were typically flaky, letting a lead slip again even if they did get a leveller to tie with Everton.

Against the same Super League backdrop, Arsenal added more fuel to the burning question of why they're involved in it at all, given they required a 97th-minute equaliser to draw with Fulham, who now look doomed to relegation with Sheffield United.

And a week on from emulating Cristiano Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood levelled a record held by Wayne Rooney.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches.

Everton 2-2 Tottenham: Mourinho pays the price for Spurs' mentality issues

Given what's happened in the time since, it's easy to forget Spurs' draw at Everton was as long ago as Friday.

But it proved to be Mourinho's final game in charge of Spurs nonetheless, with Tottenham's Champions League qualification hopes hanging by a thread – good job they've secured themselves a spot in a closed competition!

There will be many theories about Mourinho's demise, but perhaps the most pertinent with respect to his Spurs team relates to concerns over mentality.

After all, the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park saw them drop points from a winning position yet again. That's 20 points they've thrown away in 2020-21 – no team has a worse record.

Even Harry Kane's heroics weren't enough, as he twice punished defensive errors and became only the fourth player to score 20 or more goals in at least five Premier League seasons.

Who knows, maybe he'll soon follow Mourinho out the door…

Wolves 1-0 Sheffield United: Blades among the Premier League's worst ever teams?

Now, obviously it depends on how you determine the "worst" teams – everyone will likely have their own point of view.

Derby County of course hold the record for the lowest ever points total of 11, which the Blades have already surpassed, but their 1-0 defeat at Wolves consigned them to relegation.

It means they suffered the joint-earliest relegation in Premier League history, along with Derby (2007-08), Ipswich Town (1994-95) and Huddersfield Town (2018-19).

Certainly, United are party to one of the biggest drop-offs in a relegation season, as no team had finished as high as ninth one campaign and then been relegated the next since Birmingham City in 2010-11.

But here's the kicker – it was their 26th defeat of the season, equalling a club record. They could yet surpass the 29 suffered by Sunderland and Derby.

Arsenal 1-1 Fulham: Gunners' late equaliser highlights lack of progress against Super League backdrop

The rumours relating to the European Super League had emerged prior to Arsenal's Sunday clash with struggling Fulham. It provided a timely reminder of the competition's nonsensical premise.

Eddie Nketiah scored an equaliser deep into second-half stoppage to spare Arsenal's blushes – actually, if anything it probably accentuated their blushes given Fulham's failing battle against relegation.

The point means Arsenal have the exact same number of points (46) after 32 games as they did last term.

The last time they amassed fewer at this stage of a season was 1994-95 – it's hardly a show of progress.

On this evidence, Arsenal might be better off performing a Super League U-turn to avoid humiliation.

Manchester United 3-1 Burnley: Greenwood finding his groove again to match Rooney

It's not been the easiest of seasons for Greenwood. From getting booted out of an England camp to struggling badly for goals, it's fair to say a few have questioned whether they were right to believe the hype.

Thankfully the youngster has rediscovered his scoring touch lately and appears transformed, attacking defenders with confidence and purpose once again.

His brace against Burnley took him to 15 Premier League goals for United, levelling a record set by Wayne Rooney for the most goals scored by a teenager for United.

Greenwood will surely overtake Rooney in this regard as well, given he doesn't turn 20 until October 1.

On a similar note, his second effort on Sunday meant he has scored more top-flight goals as a teenager than any other player in the top five European leagues since the start of 2019-20.

But has he left this surge too late for a Euro 2020 call-up?

Sheffield United's relegation from the Premier League was confirmed following a 1-0 defeat to Wolves on Saturday.

Willian Jose turned home Adama Traore's delivery in the 59th minute at Molineux to condemn the Blades to a return to the Championship with six games remaining this season.

No side has been relegated from the Premier League with more matches left to play – Ipswich Town (1994-95), Derby County (2007-08) and Huddersfield Town (2018-19) also went down with six games outstanding.

In March the Blades sacked Chris Wilder, who led them from League One to a ninth-placed finish last season, and interim boss Paul Heckingbottom was unable to guide them to safety.

The defeat to Wolves was their 26th of the campaign – they have only lost as many in a single league season twice before.

"It's about results isn't it," Heckingbottom told Sky Sports after the defeat to Wolves left them with just 14 points from 32 games.

"The only thing we can control is the performance. We have to go out with our head held high. I think we should have certainly got something from the game. It probably typifies our season.

"You only have to look at the physical data from the Premier League this season. It's not through a lack of effort. They will give everything and you saw it again tonight.

"It was that one moment. We gave Wolves their best chances. We got into too many good positions not to score. We were on top. Everyone could see that in the second half.

"We created our best moment then 20 seconds later the ball was in the back of the net. This season has got away from the team and that is why we have suffered. It's those moments. The little bit of quality that needs to be there to win games.

"At the other end, being a little too open and being able to shut those chances out. Those are the moments Sheffield United have been really strong [in the past].

"But if you pick a game to typify this season, it was that. We were on top, missed chances and this league won't give you a second chance."

Manchester United kept up their extraordinary form for coming from behind as they defeated Tottenham in Sunday's big Premier League match.

Earlier, West Ham continued their push for a Champions League spot with a second straight 3-2 victory, this time over fellow top-four contenders Leicester City.

In the late match, Arsenal moved up to ninth thanks to a routine 3-0 dispatching of lowly Sheffield United.

Meanwhile, at the bottom, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin returned to boost Newcastle United to a potentially crucial 2-1 win at Burnley, and we take a look at the best facts from Sunday's games, courtesy of Opta data.

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United: Super-sub Saint-Maximin snatches vital points

Newcastle picked up their first win in eight Premier League games – since beating Southampton 3-2 at the start of February – as they came from behind to beat Burnley.

Matej Vydra's third goal in his last five league appearances, as many as he had across his previous 53 appearances in the competition beforehand, put Burnley ahead, but Saint-Maximin proved the difference after the break.

Coming on in the 57th minute alongside the returning Wilson, Saint-Maximin swiftly set up Jacob Murphy's equaliser – all three of the winger's league strikes have come away from home.

Saint-Maximin scored himself five minutes later, becoming only the fifth player to both score and assist a goal as a substitute in a Premier League match for Newcastle, and first since Rolando Aarons against Tottenham in May 2016.

In all competitions, Newcastle have failed to win any of the four matches in which neither Wilson nor Saint-Maximin have featured.

With both of them playing, Newcastle have six wins from 13 matches, while without at least one of their star attacking duo, the Magpies have registered just two victories.

West Ham 3-2 Leicester City: Lingard at the double as Hammers knock at the door

West Ham have recorded their first Premier League double over Leicester since the 1999-2000 season, after Jesse Lingard inspired them to a 3-2 victory at London Stadium.

Leicester have suffered consecutive league defeats for the first time since November, when they lost to Liverpool and Fulham, with Kelechi Iheanacho's double not enough to inspire a comeback.

Iheanacho has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season, equalling his best tally in a single campaign; the Nigerian scored 14 for Manchester City in 2015-16.

However, the damage was already done for Leicester, with Lingard's first-half double making him the first West Ham player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances since Michail Antonio in September 2016.

In only his his ninth Premier League appearance for West Ham, Lingard reached double figures for goals and assists combined (eight goals, three assists). It is the quickest a Hammers player has ever done so, with Paul Kitson previously reaching double figures the fastest (12 games in 1997).

Jarrod Bowen scored what was ultimately the decisive goal, putting West Ham 3-0 up early in the second half at the culmination of a slick attack in which Lingard and Tomas Soucek combined.

In 2021, only Man City (16) have won more Premier League matches than West Ham (10), who have picked up 32 points from a possible 45 this calendar year (W10 D2 L3).

Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United: Greenwood closes in on Rooney record as Spurs give up another lead

Jose Mourinho is now winless in his last five home matches in all competitions against sides he has previously managed (D2 L3), having won 12 such matches in a row between 2002 and 2018.

Tottenham led in Sunday's headline fixture – Son Heung-min becoming the first player to score three or more goals against United in a single Premier League campaign since Sergio Aguero in 2014-15.

Edinson Cavani had a goal harshly disallowed after a VAR check prior to Spurs' opener, but the Red Devils hit back in the second half. Spurs have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, second only to Brighton (20).

Mason Greenwood proved decisive, coming on from the bench to set up Cavani and then score one himself after Fred had restored parity.

Only Wayne Rooney (15) has scored more Premier League goals for Manchester United as a teenager than Greenwood (13).

United have gained 28 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season – in the competition's history, only Newcastle in 2001-02 (34) and United themselves in 2012-13 (29) have earned more points from such positions.

Meanwhile, in English top-flight history, United's current 23-game unbeaten run away from home in the league (W15 D8) is bettered only by a 27-game run from Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004.

Sheffield United 0-3 Arsenal: Lacazette at the double as Gunners hunt Europe

In Premier League history, only Chelsea (42) have beaten the side starting the day bottom of the table more than Arsenal, with this win the Gunners' 37th such victory (alongside Spurs).

It was a comfortable win for Mikel Arteta's team, with Sheffield United having suffered their 25th league defeat of the season, the most by a non-newly promoted side since Huddersfield Town in 2018-19 (28). 

Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last four away games in the Premier League (W2 D2), their longest such run of the season. Indeed, the Gunners have earned more victories on the road (seven) than they have at the Emirates this season (six).

Paul Heckingbottom has seen his Blades side concede 10 goals during his three Premier League games in charge, the joint-most after a manager's first three games in the competition, alongside David Moyes (2002, Everton) and Christian Gross (1997, Spurs).

Gabriel Martinelli's strike was his first Premier League goal of the season for Arsenal, and his first in 446 days since netting against Chelsea in January 2020.

It came in between Alexandre Lacazette's double. He is the sixth Frenchman to score 50 Premier League goals for a single club, with four of the six doing so for Arsenal.

Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 win over Sheffield United in the Premier League but saw Bukayo Saka limp off ahead of their crucial Europa League clash with Slavia Prague.

The Gunners were always in control of Sunday's contest at Bramall Lane, which will surely soon no longer be a Premier League venue given the Blades are near certainties for the drop.

Alexandre Lacazette's superb 33rd-minute opener put Arsenal ahead and, shortly after Saka had departed the stage with an injury, Gabriel Martinelli made sure of the points prior to a late second for Lacazette.

Arsenal are ninth, 10 points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham, but their hopes of Champions League qualification rest on Thursday's quarter-final second leg in Prague, where they must score after a 1-1 draw in the first game.

Saka and David McGoldrick wasted presentable opportunities in the opening 10 minutes before Martinelli fired into the side-netting at the end of an excellent counter-attack.

Martinelli was then denied by Aaron Ramsdale and Calum Chambers saw a goal-bound effort blocked by Enda Stevens before Arsenal deservedly broke the deadlock in style.

Lacazette started and finished the move, laying off for Saka, whose return pass was exquisitely flicked by Dani Ceballos to allow the former Lyon striker to roll into the bottom-right corner.

A largely low-key second half saw Lacazette bend an effort over the bar before Saka came off in some discomfort to give Gunners manager Mikel Arteta cause for concern.

He had reason to smile again in the 71st minute when Martinelli tapped in on the rebound after Ramsdale parried Nicolas Pepe's low shot, with the impressive Lacazette applying gloss to the scoreline in the 85th minute as he latched on to Thomas Partey's throughball and rifled home.

With the Premier League back following the international break, in many ways it was essentially business as usual.

Manchester United were underwhelming but came from behind yet again, while Harry Kane provided his customary reminder that he's probably a bit too good for Tottenham – or this Tottenham, at the very least.

Liverpool showed signs of having their mojo back in a 3-0 win at Arsenal that was inspired by Diogo Jota, though Manchester City moved another step closer to taking the Reds' crown.

At the other end of the table, Sheffield United – who have long looked doomed – are closing in on a Premier League record… Not that it's one they'll want to brag about.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the more quirky facts from the weekend's top-flight action…

Diogo's Jota lot going for him

How much better off Liverpool would be now had Jota not missed a large chunk of the season is impossible to know, but it's a fair assumption they'd be in a stronger position than they are.

The Portugal international returned following a three-month absence in March, scoring the winner against former club Wolves before then netting thrice for his country during the international break.

He was held back at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday but yet again proved he doesn't need long to make an impact, his brace helping secure a 3-0 win over Arsenal – it was 0-0 when he entered the pitch around the hour mark.

Those goals took him to eight in the Premier League this season from 730 minutes, meaning he boasts comfortably the best minutes-per-goal record (91) among players to have scored at least once this term. The next best is Gareth Bale with five from 561 minutes (one every 112 mins).

His 4.7 xG overperformance suggests either his form is not sustainable or he's developing into an elite-level chance-taker – hopefully an injury-free 2021-22 will unveil the truth.

Kane eyes Cole feat

While 2020-21 has been rather hit-and-miss for Tottenham, the same cannot be said for Kane.

The England captain is enjoying another stellar season but, perhaps more pertinently, he seems to have added another string to his bow when it comes to setting up team-mates.

With that in mind, his brace at the weekend means he now tops both the Premier League goalscoring (19) and assist (13) charts. He probably won't match his personal best of 30 goals for a single season, but in terms of goal involvements he's only four adrift of the 36 he managed in 2016-17 (29 goals, seven assists).

Therefore he's in with a great shout of being only the second player in Premier League history to finish a season with the most goals and assists.

Andy Cole is the only player to lead both outright at the end of a season, accomplishing the feat in 1993-94 when he netted 34 times and set up another 13 – this was before the competition changed from a 42-game season to 38.

Mourinho and Spurs dreaming of Man United's comeback record

It was just another weekend of Manchester United coming from behind to snatch a win and Tottenham throwing away a lead.

United netted twice in the second half to cancel out Danny Welbeck's opener for Brighton and Hove Albion, clinching a 2-1 win at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

It means they have gained 25 points from losing positions in the Premier League this term, a figure only ever bettered three times – West Brom (27) in 2010-11, United themselves (29) in 2012-13 and Newcastle United (34) in 2001-02.

It's been a different story for Tottenham this season, however, as they've not been able to hold on to leads – Newcastle rescuing a 2-2 draw against them on Sunday being the latest example, with the Magpies' xG of four being their highest figure since 2016-17.

They've now dropped 11 points due to goals conceded in the final 10 minutes of games, the worst record in the Premier League this term, and failed to win the six league games in which they've led at half-time. That's also a league-wide high.

As for Jose Mourinho, the 15 points he's seen Spurs surrender from winning positions in 2020-21 is already a joint-worst for him in a Premier League season.

Sheffield United on course for worst ever Premier League season

Okay, admittedly this one does depend on how you quantify "worst".

After all, Derby County hold the record for the fewest points ever won in a single Premier League season when they amassed just 11 in 2007-08, and Sheffield United already have three more.

However, Derby's 29 defeats equated to 76.3 per cent of their 38 matches, which along with Sunderland two years earlier, is the biggest proportion of losses in a solitary campaign.

Following the Blades' 2-1 loss at Leeds United on Saturday, they have lost 80 per cent of their matches this term (25 in total).

Given their form until now, few would be surprised to see them set a new Premier League record of 30 defeats.

With the Premier League back following the international break, all eyes were set to be on the Emirates Stadium for a heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Liverpool.

Or, that's what the nostalgia of the Premier League wanted us to expect – the reality was rather different, as Arsenal's current status as Europa League-hopefuls at best was made brutally clear.

In fact, as it turned out, the day's most-compelling viewing came from elsewhere in London, as Chelsea suffered an abysmal home defeat by West Brom.

In the East Midlands, Manchester City took their customary step closer to the title, while Leeds United came out on top in an all-Yorkshire affair.

We have taken a look at all the best Opta facts from the four games.

Chelsea 2-5 West Brom: Blues bruised by Big Sam's Baggies in momentous defeat

It was a day to forget for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea as their honeymoon period came to a bruising and humiliating end in a 5-2 home defeat by relegation-threated West Brom.

Chelsea did take the lead through Christian Pulisic, his first goal in 21 games across all competitions, but Thiago Silva's red card for two bookings in the 29th minute offered encouragement to West Brom.

Matheus Pereira's first-half stoppage-time brace – the goals separated by just two minutes and 46 seconds – put the Baggies in front, and Callum Robinson got a double of his own in the second period, becoming the first player in Premier League history to score at least twice home and away against Chelsea in a single campaign.

Mason Mount and Mbaye Diagne got the other goals, with Chelsea conceding five times in a home Premier League game for only the second time, the last being against Arsenal in October 2011.

Victory ensured Sam Allardyce became the first manager in Premier League history to win at Stamford Bridge with three clubs, while it was Tuchel's first defeat since replacing Frank Lampard in January.

The hard work starts here.

Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield United: Blades approaching new low

Sheffield United have looked doomed virtually all season – no win over Leeds United at this stage of the season was going to change that.

But in losing at Elland Road, it took them to 24 defeats in the league this term from 30 games – only twice in their entire history have they suffered more losses in a single campaign, 26 in 1975-76 and 2010-11, though on both occasions were from many more matches (42 and 46, respectively).

For Leeds, however, the win saw them complete a league double over their Yorkshire rivals for the first time since 1991-92 when they actually won the top-flight title.

While no one is expecting them to go close to repeating that title feat anytime soon, Saturday's visit of Blades did provide another reminder of the positivity Leeds have brought to the Premier League – it was the fifth time this term they have attempted at least 20 shots (23 this time) in a single game, with only Manchester City doing so more often (six).

Jack Harrison's opener was one of them, with the winger netting his seventh goal of the season to make this his best ever campaign in English football, while Raphinha teed him up to move on to a Leeds-high six assists in the Premier League in 2020-21.

They needed a helping hand, though. The seventh own goal of Phil Jagielka's career – only Richard Dunne (10) has more – proved decisive, making him the oldest outfield player (38 years, 229 days) to score in his own net in the top tier since Stuart Pearce in 2001 (38y, 252d).

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola has the key to cleansheets

When you think about what Pep Guardiola the coach is associated with, 'tiki-taka', free-scoring teams and ball-playing centre-backs spring to mind immediately.

But now, perhaps we should add defensive solidity to that list?

Granted, Guardiola has coached great teams for the majority of his career, and they wouldn't usually have poor defensive records, but his runaway City side seems arguably one of his shrewdest ever.

After Saturday's 2-0 win at Leicester, who although third in the table were utterly subjugated, City have kept more clean sheets (28) and conceded fewer goals (26) in all competitions than any other side in Europe's top five leagues.

They prevented Leicester from mustering a single first-half shot for the first time in the league since December 2019 (against Liverpool), and the Foxes suffered just their third defeat in their last 17 top-flight outings.

Among the scorers for City was Gabriel Jesus, who continued his remarkable unbeaten run in games he's scored (41 – W39, D2), a record only James Milner (54) and Darius Vassell (46) can better.

It was the fifth league goal Jesus has managed against Leicester, making them his second-favourite opponent after Everton (seven goals against).

However, Sergio Aguero was unable to cross another stadium off his list. He's played four times at the King Power Stadium without scoring – only two other grounds has he a worse goalless record (eight games at Anfield, six at Selhurst Park). Following the announcement of his end-of-season departure, it seems Leicester have largely avoided his wrath.

Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool: Arteta questions mount with his record not standing up to Emery's

Mikel Arteta's 50th Premier League match as Arsenal coach was one to forget – though it feels like we could say the same thing about rather a lot of his previous 49 games.

Brought in as Arsenal attempted a hard restart, ushering in a new 'era' with fresh ideas, Arteta it was hoped would turn the Gunners back into title challengers, but it seems as though they're even further away from that than under much-maligned predecessor Unai Emery.

This was Arteta's 17th Premier League defeat, four more than Emery suffered in his first 50 games, and the game itself suggested there remains a significant gulf between Arsenal and a Liverpool side that is nowhere near what it was last season.

Nevertheless, it is true that Liverpool's issues have mostly been consigned to Anfield recently, with each of their last six league wins – including this one – coming away from home. This is only the second time they've ever achieved such a run, the first recording since 1955.

Perhaps results against Liverpool aren't the best barometer to measure Arsenal against given they've beaten the Reds once in their past 12 Premier League meetings.

But Arsenal appear to be treading water under Arteta, with their points-per-game dropping to 1.3 from 1.7 in his second 25 league matches in charge.

Sergio Aguero's next destination is a hot topic of conversation after Manchester City confirmed he will leave at the end of the season.

The Argentina forward has been linked with a host of clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 32-year-old has spent the past decade in England with City.

 

TOP STORY - BLUES IN BOX SEAT FOR AGUERO

Chelsea have moved into pole position to land Aguero, who wants to remain in England according to the Daily Mail.

The Blues, who wanted to sign Aguero in 2011 when he left Atletico Madrid for City, will be in the market for a forward with rumours about Timo Werner's future after an underwhelming debut season at Stamford Bridge.

Portuguese publication Record claims Benfica are also interested in Aguero, while The Sun has added Arsenal and his former club Independiente to the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Lyon's Netherlands international Memphis Depay has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, but Marca claims Liverpool could 'muscle in' for the soon-to-be free agent.

- Le Parisien reports that Paris Saint-Germain are in a hurry to get Kylian Mbappe to commit to a new contract amid speculation linking him with a move away, including to Real Madrid.

- L’Equipe claims that Arkadiusz Milik has a €12million buyout clause in his Marseille loan contract from Napoli and Juventus are preparing an offer to swoop for him.

Sheffield United midfielder Ismaila Coulibaly has attracted interest from AC Milan and Galatasaray but the Blades want to keep him, according to Yorkshire Live.

Lionel Messi has been tipped to leave Barcelona for either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

But Haaland could reportedly unlock Messi's future.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND TO CITY MEANS BARCA STAY FOR MESSI?

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could hold the key to Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Barca, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

City have been tipped to sign Messi, but should they step up their pursuit of Haaland, the Premier League leaders could reportedly drop their interest in the Barca captain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says new Barca president Joan Laporta is preparing a contract renewal for Messi, who is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- Bayern Munich are eyeing a move for Tottenham star Son Heung-min, claims Football Insider. Son has reportedly been offered a bumper new contract by Spurs, but the former Bayer Leverkusen forward is wanted in Munich.

- Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria and Sander Berge of Sheffield United are on the list of midfielders to replace City veteran Fernandinho, reports A Bola.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus and Barca are interested in Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli. The Italy defender is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly seeking a €6million-a-year contract.

Napoli are eyeing Lazio head coach Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igli Tare, claims Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso has been tipped to leave Napoli at the end of the season, with ex-Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, Luciano Spalletti and Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric among the possible replacements. But Lazio duo Inzaghi and Tare are being monitored to replace Gattuso and Cristiano Giuntoli in Naples.

United are interested in Lille defender Sven Botman, according to Fabrizio Romano. Sevilla star Jules Kounde has been on United's radar but the club's asking price of €80m (£68m) is too steep.

- Romano also says there is no agreement with United and Paul Pogba over a new contract. Pogba has been linked with former club Juve, Madrid and PSG.

Chris Wilder twice wanted to resign as Sheffield United manager and demanded a £4million pay-off to do so, according to the club's owner. 

Wilder left his role as Blades boss by mutual consent on March 13 after almost five years at the club.

He was hugely successful in the first four of those, leading United to two promotions from League One to the Premier League.

He followed that up with a superb ninth-placed finish in the top flight last season.

This campaign has been a huge struggle, though, the Blades having been rooted to the bottom of the table on 14 points at the time of his departure. 

Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Sa'ud - who took full control of the Blades in 2018 after five years as co-chairman - has claimed that, despite being "astonished" by Wilder's financial demands, he did not want him to leave.

"I told Chris, if we lose every game until the end of the season, we are not going to fire you," he told Sky Sports News. "We need you to be our coach. I am not talking about emotion, I just believe you are the best manager to bring us back to the Premier League.

"I told him recruitment could be better and that we could sit down after the season and talk about how we could make it better.

"I told him that I am not happy that sometimes after defeats when you talk to the media [and say], 'I can't make cake out of sand' and when he says, 'all I have is Championship players'.

"It does not reflect well on the club image. Those players finished ninth in the table last season; it hurts the club financially.

"I am OK with Chris taking all the credit when we win, but at least take some responsibility when we lose. Don't, under the pressure of some losses, say 'everything around me is rubbish'."

He added: "Chris explained in a one-hour call why he wanted to resign. He said that he felt the team needed a change, a new voice.

"We were very clear and said we don't want to fire you but if you want to resign, you can, but we will not pay you the same money as if we were firing you.

"The emails started between his representatives and our financial guy and we were astonished to find he had asked for £4m to resign.

"We said, 'no way are we going to pay you £4m, you are resigning, we are not firing you, why would we have to pay almost one year's salary?'"

Former Under-23s manager Paul Heckingbottom has since replaced Wilder until the end of the season. 

He has presided over two matches; a 5-0 Premier League defeat at Leicester City and a 2-0 FA Cup loss to Chelsea, the latter seeing the Blades produce a largely encouraging performance despite the scoreline.

Thomas Tuchel confirmed Tammy Abraham sustained a recurrence of an injury which has kept him out of action in recent weeks, urging the Chelsea forward to be cautious with his recovery.

Abraham has not featured for Chelsea since February 22, due to a combination of injury and his form in training.

Coming into the FA Cup quarter-finals, no player had scored more goals in the competition this season than Abraham, who had netted four times across the third, fourth and fifth rounds.

However, the 23-year-old was again absent from the squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and Tuchel – who on Friday instructed Abraham to be patient as he waited for an opportunity – revealed Chelsea's number nine had suffered an injury.

"Yes, he quit training yesterday after a five-minute warm-up so there was more or less no chance he could join the squad," Tuchel told a news conference after Chelsea's 2-0 win over the Blades.

"It was the same injury, more or less, but he had a re-injury in more or less the same spot where the first injury was so he is in pain and he had to quit the session after five minutes with no chance he could join us today.

"The most important thing for Tammy is be fit. The second is then to take things step by step, to train and fight for his way back.

"His way back is maybe to be a substitute and to be hungry and full of quality in training. These are the next steps.

"Now is not the time to worry about the first eleven because he is out now for many games, unfortunately too many games.

"It's absolutely not his fault and he is hungry to come back. He tries all the time but this is the risk with pushing the players to be back as soon as possible.

"It was an accident in training. So nobody's fault. So now is a kind of restart and we hope he can use the next two weeks to get fit again."

Despite his recent struggles, Abraham is Chelsea's leading scorer this season with 12 goals in 30 matches across all competitions.

He has taken 10 of 16 'big chances' – opportunities from which Opta would expect a player to score – far better than Timo Werner's rate of eight from 26.

Of Chelsea's three central strikers, Olivier Giroud (103) boasts a better minutes per goal ratio than Abraham (127), while Werner is down at 284.

Creatively, Werner has been far more profitable, crafting 31 opportunities, in contrast to 13 from Abraham.

Thomas Tuchel was not surprised Chelsea failed to keep control of their FA Cup tie with Sheffield United following a grueling run.

Chelsea were rather hanging on for much of the second half at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, though Hakim Ziyech's stoppage-time effort secured a 2-0 win, with Oliver Norwood's own goal having put the Blues ahead after 24 minutes.

The hosts have progressed to their 25th FA Cup semi-final, the third most of any club behind Everton (26), Manchester United and Arsenal (both 30), while they remain unbeaten in Tuchel's 14 matches in charge.

Chelsea have kept clean sheets in each of their last seven games – their best run since December 2005 (also seven) – while of sides within the 'big five' European leagues, only Manchester City (14) have won more games across all competitions than Chelsea (10) since Tuchel took over.

The Blues had fewer shots on target (three compared to four) than the Blades, with David McGoldrick squandering a golden chance to restore parity midway through the second half, but Tuchel revealed he was expecting a drop-off in his team's performance levels.

"It was a tough match, we had a good first half where we controlled everything but in the second we lost control, we were clearly tired," Tuchel told BBC Sport.

"I could see after the 14 matches, I could see us tire, a lack of concentration, many faults and strong opponents in the second half, so we were lucky to keep the clean sheet but I think it was the first time in 14 matches that we were lucky and allowed too many chances.

"It can happen, it's important in the end in the cup to go through. This was the target and we reached it.

"We let them come back, because we had full control in the first half, we had a big chance with Christian [Pulisic] in the second half to finish the game very early and after that we made too many easy mistakes, lost duels and lost a bit of concentration, momentum.

"Honestly I could feel it in training, some days we feel a bit tired and a lack of concentration, it's normal. It gets more problematic to keep the level up. I'm happy we got help from the bench."

It was a sentiment echoed by Pulisic, who turned in a bright performance up front for Chelsea, forcing Aaron Ramsdale into two impressive saves.

"They didn't make it easy on us," the United States international told BBC Sport.

"We knew that they had quality, we had to suffer a bit in the second half but in the end it's another clean sheet and a good performance.

"We definitely have a confident bunch of guys. Obviously, when you go on a streak like this you're feeling really good, we think we can beat anyone, it's a good feeling."

Chelsea's unbeaten start under Thomas Tuchel rolled on as Oliver Norwood's own goal and a late Hakim Ziyech strike sent the Blues into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United.

Appearing in their 15th FA Cup quarter-final since the turn of the century – the most of any side – Chelsea were not at their sharpest at Stamford Bridge on Sunday but, as they have done in many of their 14 matches under Tuchel so far, managed to grind out a result.

Norwood's own goal put Chelsea ahead, with David McGoldrick missing a golden chance to restore parity when he headed wide from five yards out.

Chelsea made their fortune count, holding firm in rather nervy fashion before hitting the Blades on the break and securing their progression thanks to Ziyech, reaching the semi-finals for the fourth time in five seasons.

Playing at the end of a difficult week personally following the death of his brother, Phil Jagielka might have put United ahead early on but failed to generate enough power on his header to trouble Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Yet United's bright start ultimately proved fruitless – Chelsea striking first when Norwood diverted Ben Chilwell's effort beyond Aaron Ramsdale.

Norwood was almost at fault for another goal before half-time when his stray pass was intercepted by Christian Pulisic, though Ramsdale rushed out to spare his team-mate's blushes.

Displaying some terrific footwork, Pulisic engineered another chance straight after the restart, but Ramsdale again stood firm.

McGoldrick should have built on Ramsdale's save, only to head wide of a gaping goal from point-blank range.

Kepa had work to do soon after – McGoldrick's strike partner Oli McBurnie forcing a smart save out of the Spaniard.

Rhian Brewster then saw a strike deflected into the side netting, yet for all United's pressure, Chelsea dealt the knockout blow when substitute Ziyech drilled in from close range at the end of a sweeping counter to ensure the Blues progressed.

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