Ali Rampling takes a look at the winners and losers after another weekend of football
The Chairboys made our losers list last week after conceding in stoppage time and slipping to their seventh straight defeat of the season but they have enjoyed a turnaround in fortunes over the last seven days.
Wycombe got their first ever Championship point on the board on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw against Watford – a team that were 33 places above them in the football pyramid pre-lockdown.
They followed this up with their maiden second tier victory via a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday – a club who when Wycombe were celebrating promotion to the football league for the first time in their history during the 1992/93 season, were reaching the League and FA Cup finals and playing in Europe.
Gareth Ainsworth’s side sealed victory over Wednesday thanks to David Wheeler’s header in first-half injury time, collecting four points in two games having failed to take any from their previous seven, and averaging 29.5% possession in the process.
Serie A’s underdog story of the season secured their first scalp of the campaign with a 2-0 victory at Napoli on Sunday.
Sassuolo were undefeated prior to the weekend’s encounter, winning three of their first five league outings, and Genaro Gattuso’s side would prove to be a real test.
Sassuolo were the Serie A top scorers, but were without Ciccio Caputo, Domenico Berardi and Filip Djuricic for Sunday’s clash; the trio had contributed 11 of their side’s 16 goals this term. Despite their absence, Roberto De Zerbi’s side ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a Manuel Locatelli penalty and 95th minute strike from Maxime Lopez to lift them up to second in Serie A.
Chloe Kelly & Esme Morgan
Chloe Kelly and Esme Morgan began the 2019/20 FA Cup campaign with Everton. The England duo helped the Toffees past London Bees and Bristol City and into the quarter-finals of the competition before coronavirus struck.
The former signed for the Citizens in the summer, while the latter returned to her parent club following the end of her loan spell on Merseyside, and new competition rules in light of the pandemic enabled the pair to be registered for the remainder of the competition with City. Both Kelly and Morgan were in City’s squad for their victory at Wembley, meaning despite starting the 2019/20 FA Cup campaign with Everton, they finished it against them during the 2020/21 season and took home their winners medals.
Everton ultimately fell at the final hurdle, producing a resolute performance but suffering a 3-1 extra-time defeat to Manchester City in Sunday’s FA Cup final. But Kelly and Morgan ended up with a winners medals each.
The soap opera that is FC Barcelona continued to rumble on this week. Tuesday’s episode saw the increasingly unpopular character Josep Maria Bartomeu finally depart the show, but the former president ensured he exited in style, dropping a European Super League bombshell as he departed.
There was some respite for Barcelona in midweek as they recorded an impressive Champions League win over Italian champions Juventus on Wednesday, but the chaos resumed at the weekend as they drew 1-1 with Alavés.
Barcelona found themselves 1-0 down at the break after a horrendous mix up at the back between Gerard Pique and Neto, triggering Ronald Koeman to haul off three players at half-time. They equalised just after the hour mark through Antoine Griezmann, and despite Alavés playing half an hour with 10 men after midfielder Jota saw red, Barcelona could not find a way past their stubborn opponents. It’s now four La Liga games without a win for the European giants, who sit an uncharacteristic 12th in the table.
Last season’s beaten play-off finalists have endured a real heartache hangover this term. Oxford suffered their sixth defeat in eight against Fleetwood on Saturday.
Karl Robinson’s team could only name six substitutes, such is the depleted nature of their squad, and conceded inside the first two minutes against the Trawlermen. Paddy Madden put the game to bed in the second half for Joey Barton’s side as Oxford lost – and drew a blank – for the second game on the bounce to leave them bottom of the table.
The Us will have had ambitions of exiting League One this season following last campaign’s antics, but as things stand their escape route from the third tier has suffered a bit of a mix up.
Sheffield United have not only had their thunder royally stolen by Leeds United – with Marcelo Bielsa’s side quickly becoming everybody’s brand new favourite newly promoted side – the Blades are also suffering from a real bout of second season syndrome.
Contending with the lack of Jack O’Connell and John Fleck has been a major blow to Chris Wilder’s side, who suffered their ninth defeat in their last 10 Premier League outings at the hands of Manchester City on Saturday.
The Blades mustered just one shot on target all afternoon and were beaten by a strike from Sheffield United academy product Kyle Walker. It’s now 10 top-flight games without a win for the Blades – they are halfway to bettering the club’s all-time winless run record of 19 set back 1976.
Follow Ali on Twitter @alirampling