Danny Hall: Sheffield United reaping rewards as John Fleck’s scoring streak continues at Arsenal - even if celebration hasn’t been perfected just yet
The strike was clean and pure; the ensuing celebration was anything but.
John Fleck’s late equaliser at the Emirates against Arsenal earned Sheffield United a deserved point, and sent United’s Scottish hero tumbling to the turf after an attempted knee slide went wrong. It was probably his only misstep all afternoon.
Psychologically the goal was important, after back to back defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool left United’s long and proud unbeaten run in tatters. If it is to be resurrected, a deserved point at somewhere like the Emirates is not a bad place to start.
Yes, this is an Arsenal side in transition but one that, under Mikel Arteta, has shown more than under Unai Emery. Here they were quick - so quick, breaking at lightning speed at times - but for all that, and nearly 60 per cent of possession, Dean Henderson made one real save, from a late Arsenal header.
By then, United were back level after Fleck met a cross perfectly. His left-footed effort kissed the Emirates tuft and ballooned past Bernd Leno’s outstretched hand, and into his top corner.
For Fleck, it was a moment that capped another impressive display which saw him drive from deep with the ball with real tenacity, and no little skill either. The former Rangers prodigy has probably taken longer than many predicted to really blossom at the top level, but how United are benefitting as a result.
The player himself described talks over a new contract at United as tentative in the week, but they may have just become a lot more pressing after the fifth goal of a season in which he was challenged by his manager, Chris Wilder, to find the net more. Fleck is reaping the rewards of a change of shape, and United haven’t looked back either.
Neither player or club looked out of place in the grand arena of the Emirates, a stage on which United have earned the right to perform - and are making a damn good fist of it too.
Tougher tests await, starting with City at Bramall Lane on Tuesday. But that can wait. This was a day to enjoy all that is good about football; the mental strength to stay in the game, and then the outpouring of joy at one swish of a Scottish hero’s boot.
Just don’t mention the celebration.