Five-star Villa embarrass bottom side Sheff Utd to move into top four

Aston Villa embarrassed bottom side Sheffield United at Bramall Lane with a 5-0 win to move back into the top four.

Villa scored four first-half goals in an 18-minute blitz to become the first team to hit four or more goals in the opening 30 minutes of a Premier League away game since October 2011.

Villa captain John McGinn put the visitors ahead in the 12th minute before Ollie Watkins doubled the lead four minutes later as he finished off Douglas Luiz’s wonderful through ball, which Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp labelled “one of the best passes you could ever see”.

Player ratings

Sheff Utd: Foderingham (5); Bogle (5), Holgate (5), Ahmedhodzic (5), Trusty (5), Norrington-Davies (5); McAtee (5), Souza (6), Brooks (5), Diaz (6); Osula (5).

Subs: Hamer (6), Osborn (6), Robinson (6), Archer (6), Davies (6).

Aston Villa: Martinez (7); Konsa (7), Carlos (7), Lenglet (7), Moreno (8); Bailey (8), Kamara (7), Luiz (8), McGinn (8); Tielemans (8), Watkins (9).

Subs: Ramsey (7), Cash (6), Diaby (6), Iroegbunam (6), Rogers (n/a)

Man of the match: Ollie Watkins.

Leon Bailey curled in a third in the 20th minute followed by Youri Tielemans’ thunderous strike off the underside of the bar to leave some home fans heading for the exits after just half an hour, while those remaining unsurprisingly booed their side off at half-time.

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Ollie Watkins slots home after delightful ball from Douglas Luiz

The Blades’ problems then deepened just 90 seconds into the second half as Alex Moreno fired in a fifth to make it five different players on the scoresheet for Villa.

Sheffield United’s misery was compounded late on when they were denied a late stoppage-time consolation goal by VAR as Vinicius Souza’s goal was disallowed for offside.

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Youri Tielemans smashes in Aston Villa’s fourth with superb strike

It is a second humiliating defeat of the season for Sheffield United having been drubbed 8-0 by Newcastle in September, with Chris Wilder’s side now 10 points adrift of safety at the bottom while they have conceded 59 goals after 23 games, the most of any side at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1965/66.

Meanwhile, Villa took full advantage of Tottenham’s lunchtime draw at Everton to move above Spurs into fourth and go five points behind leaders Liverpool.

Opta's relegation predictor reckons there's a 99 per cent chance Sheffield United will be relegated
Opta’s relegation predictor reckons there’s a 99 per cent chance Sheffield United will be relegated

How Villa recorded their biggest away PL win since 2008

Villa’s biggest away win in the Premier League since April 2008, when they beat Derby County 6-0 at Pride Park, began in the 12th minute as Luiz released Watkins who chipped over Wes Foderingham onto the post before McGinn followed up into an empty net.

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John McGinn pounces on rebound to give Aston Villa early lead over Sheffield United

But Watkins was not to be denied a goal as he doubled the lead four minutes later latching onto Luiz’s stunning outside-of-the-boot pass to fire low across Foderingham.

Watkins then turned provider as he slipped in Bailey who drove into the box and cut in on his left foot to unleash a devastating curling finish to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes.

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Leon Bailey curls in fantastic third for Villa

Villa’s four-goal flourish was complete in the 30th minute as Tielemans hammered in off the woodwork from a corner to leave the home fans fearing a repeat of the 8-0 loss to Newcastle.

Wilder’s half-time team talk had no effect as the Blades conceded just 90 seconds into the second half as Watkins provided a fine cross for Moreno to volley home from close range.

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Moreno blasts in on the volley to make it five!

Villa had VAR to thank for their clean sheet as Souza’s 91st-minute goal was ruled out for offside.

Sheffield United now look destined for the Championship next season after taking just 10 points from 23 games, while Villa have reignited their bid to qualify for the Champions League.

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Souza’s consolation ruled out for offside

Wilder: We got took to the cleaners | ‘I accept responsibility’

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Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder accepted blame for the embarrassing defeat

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder speaking to Sky Sports:

“It was tough for our 30,000 Sheffield United supporters – it wasn’t good enough. Myself and my players have got to accept that responsibility. We have got well and truly took to the cleaners – 4-0 down after 30 minutes, there was never a chance of us getting back into the game.

“They were clinical in taking their chances but we were open and I have to accept that responsibility in terms of the way the team was set up. We have to take our medicine. This is what the Premier League is about, this is what it can do to you.

“It is not a nice feeling, there is no hiding place for a manager – whether I’m stood in that technical area for 95 minutes [which] felt like about three weeks – and for the players out there.

“Now everything that gets chucked at us – from our supporters, from the media, from everybody’s opinion – we have to take on the chin and accept.

“It’s been a really poor day for us and as manager I’m the face and front and centre of it all, and I have to take that responsibility.”

Emery: We reacted well after Newcastle defeat

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Aston Villa manager Unai Emery was pleased with how ‘clinical and focused’ his side were the win

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery to Sky Sports:

“We reacted very well after the match we played on Tuesday [3-1 home defeat to Newcastle]. We were focused.

“We controlled the game and were clinical. We were feeling comfortable and stronger.

Asked whether he would have liked to have scored more goals: “I want to win and to respect the opponent is to try to continue to play seriously.

“The result at the end, scoring goals is important but the most important thing is to play serious.”

Redknapp: Sheff Utd lower than a snake’s belly

Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:

“I don’t always agree with the predictor (see above) but that’s right. Sheffield United don’t have the quality. It’s about building confidence, putting performances together, show that you’re really willing for the fans.

“I thought Chris Wilder made a really good point. Sometimes when fans watch games and they say, ‘They don’t care, they’re not trying and running hard enough’. It’s not the case, it’s just your confidence is so low.

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Jamie Redknapp and Lee Hendrie display their smooth skills with a tennis ball as they pull off a flurry of kick-ups while on the set of Saturday Night Football!

“You’re suddenly playing with blinkers on and can’t see what you would see in training, a really simple pass. Everything has become really difficult for them.

“They’re lower than a snake’s belly right now. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for them. They tried to change it with Chris coming in, but it hasn’t made a difference because the players haven’t really got the quality.

“You look at Luton and see a direction. Pace, energy, they get the ball in the box, they’re direct. But I look at Sheffield United and struggle to see what sort of team they are.”

There’s no defending Sheffield United’s defending

If defending is an artform, Sheffield United have produced crimes against it this season.

This latest walloping at the hands of an Aston Villa, who should’ve been vulnerable after a midweek 3-1 home defeat to Newcastle, means the Blades have now shipped 59 Premier League goals in 23 goals. That average of 2.56 goals shipped per game means this Blades defence is officially the worst defence in Premier League history, at this stage of the season. No team have conceded more after 23 games.

The underlying metrics back up that stark record. The Blades have faced the most shots (390) and have the highest expected goals against (46.07) figure this season.

Any momentum gained by appointing club legend Chris Wilder has evaporated into the abyss. He hasn’t helped himself at times either in the search for cohesion in his backline. In nine Premier League games in charge, he’s named six different defensive line-ups. He doesn’t know his best XI – and neither did his predecessor Paul Heckingbottom. The planning must start now for next season back in the Championship.
Lewis Jones

Opta stats: Watkins stars as Blades woes worsen

  • Only Mohamed Salah (22) has been involved in more Premier League goals this season than Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins (21 – 11 goals, 10 assists), with no player both scoring and assisting in more different games than the Englishman in the competition this term (4).
  • Sheffield United are the first Premier League side to concede 5+ goals in back-to-back home matches in all competitions since Leeds United in April last year.
  • Sheffield United became just the fifth side to lose two different home games in a Premier League season by 5+ goals (also 0-8 vs Newcastle in September), after Swindon in 1993-94, Derby in 2007-08, West Brom in 2020-21 and Norwich in 2021-22.

What’s next?

Sheffield United visit Luton Town at Kenilworth Road at Saturday; kick-off 3pm.

Aston Villa host Chelsea in their FA Cup fourth round replay on Wednesday before Manchester United are the visitors to Villa Park next Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.

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