Four goals, a centre-half scoring two and, even more remarkably, another FOUR goals chalked off for offside.
Sheffield United’s 4-0 demolition of Port Vale yesterday afternoon was certainly an interesting one!
Here, our man at the game offers six talking points. Have your say on the game in the comments below, on Twitter or our dedicated Blades Facebook page.
Is there a better midfield three in the league than Fleck, Coutts and Duffy? On current form, I think not. Chris Basham, previously a shoo-in, will struggle to regain his place after completing his suspension and here, Fleck showed his undoubted quality for perhaps the first time this season.
Coutts, who continues to go from strength to strength, excelled both offensively and defensively and Duffy, a player I really rate, capped another good display with a goal before being replaced.
But Basham, along with the likes of Caolan Lavery and Leon Clarke, will still have massive parts to play. As former Blades legend Kevin Gage wrote in his weekly column in this newspaper, Basham is “Mr Versatile, and a managers dream with his commitment, drive & enthusiasm. We know his limitations, but usually forgive him. Will he get back into the midfield after his recent red card? Competition for places is now hot, and he may miss out. However, if so, he’ll keep all others on their toes as he can ‘do a job’ anywhere.”
Ethan Ebanks-Landell is developing a real taste for goals, with two more here to add to his late leveller at Fleetwood. After years of set-piece profligacy, it was pleasing to see both his goals come from corners and he was my man of the match - with a lot of challengers - after a superb defensive display, too. Wolves must have some serious talent if they can afford to let this lad leave on loan, and if United can secure his services permanently then it would appear, on the evidence so far, to be a superb piece of business.
He fancied his hat-trick, too. Hypothetically, Ebanks-Landell was asked post-match what would have happened if United got a 90th-minute penalty. ‘I’m on it,’ he replied without hesitation. No doubt skipper Billy Sharp, who didn’t get on the scoresheet, would have had something to say - but who could, or would, really argue with the man nicknamed ‘The Tank’?!
United’s victory was achieved by offensive class, but was built on defensive solidarity, too. Jake Wright and Jack O’Connell were excellent alongside Ebanks-Landell, and Kieron Freeman produced a stunning, late tackle to deny Vale early on. And then, on a rare occasion when United’s rearguard was breached, Simon Moore pulled off a superb block to deny Alex Jones a consolation.
Another mention for Gagey, too; he’ll have been delighted to see three Blades players - Matt Done, Jack O’Connell and Paul Coutts - wearing black boots. Another excellent 19,000-plus crowd - some who will already be part of the ‘I saw Paul Coutts score a goal’ club - also saw 5ft 6in Stefan Scougall score a very rare header, and some are even indulging in an even rarer wave of optimism!