Sheffield United vs Leeds United Predictions: Sheffield United Line-up
Sheffield United faces a trip to Elland Road as Chris Wilder’s men look to beat league leaders Leeds United on Saturday.
The Blades kept the pressure on the top two with a 2-0 win over Brentford at Bramall Lane on Tuesday. Wilder knows the importance of the weekend’s game and will look to go all guns blazing to get a positive result.
Leeds United, meanwhile, edged a point ahead of promotion rivals Norwich City with a 3-0 victory over Reading on Tuesday.
Gary Madine will miss the game at Leeds United after being sent off against Brentford. He will also miss United’s clashes against Bristol City and Preston North End.
Wilder has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game.
Probable Sheffield United XI
Manager: Chris Wilder
Dean Henderson (GK)
Henderson kept a clean-sheet against Brentford but will have to be at the top of his game to keep another at Elland Road.
Chris Basham (RCB)
The aggressive Basham has been a regular fixture in the Sheffield United back three. He is a certain starter at the weekend.
John Egan (CB)
Strong in the air and powerful in the tackle, Egan will have to keep things tight at the back to give United hopes of winning at Leeds.
Jake O’Connell (LCB)
O’Connell is a fearless defender who likes to take risks with the ball and play out from the back often.
George Baldock (RWB)
Baldock was taken off at the hour mark against Brentford purely due to tactical reasons. He will start the game on Saturday at right wing-back.
Enda Stevens (LWB)
Stevens has been a consistent performer for Blades this campaign. Wilder will expect a big performance from the experienced defender.
Oliver Norwood (CM)
Netted a penalty in the 2-0 home success over Brentford and will be confident to put in another strong display against Leeds.
John Fleck (CM)
Fleck is a tenacious performer in the middle of the park. He is likely to partner Norwood again in the engine room.
Kieran Dowell (CAM)
Dowell was taken off at half-time against Brentford as Wilder looked to tweak the team’s shape following Madine’s dismissal. The loanee from Everton, however, will start at Elland Road.
David McGoldrick (RS)
Came off the bench to seal United’s deal against Brentford. With Madine suspended, McGoldrick is likely to start.
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Billy Sharp (LS)
The skipper of the team, Sharp can be a real handful for the Leeds defenders on Saturday.
5 of the best bargain buys in the Premier League since the turn of the decade
5 best bargain buys in the Premier League since the turn of the decade
The 2019 summer transfer window has already witnessed some big-money arrivals in the Premier League.
Man United have made their intentions very clear by forking out £50million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Leicester City have paid £40million to Monaco for Youri Tielemans and Spurs have come out of their reluctancy to spend big by snapping up Tanguy Ndombele for £60million, whilst Man City have shattered their club-record fee by splashing £62.8 million on Rodri.
These transfers have certainly made the headlines in the tabloids and things are expected to heat up even more in the coming weeks as the deadline day in August looms large.
Well, we all know that money flows quite easily in the Premier League nowadays and the fans would probably recall the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool throwing around millions in the transfer window last summer to bring in goalkeepers Arrizabalaga and Alisson respectively.
Similarly, the 2018 summer window also witnessed some shrewd acquisitions by a few clubs, with the likes of Liverpool, Wolves and Arsenal bringing in Xherdan Shaqiri, Joao Moutinho and Matteo Guendouzi from Stoke City, Monaco and FC Lorient respectively.
All the aforementioned players arrived the respective clubs for relatively small sums of money but they proved themselves to be as good as gold for such thrifty amounts.
Due to the exponential rise in the involvement of finances in football over the years, even the lesser clubs in the Premier League have the money in their bank to pull off audacious raids on the heavyweights nowadays.
Leicester City might have spent £30million to sign Ayoze Perez this summer but it is worth mentioning that Newcastle United had paid Tenerife only £1.5million to secure the Spaniard’s services back in 2014.
Going by whatever Perez went on to achieve at Tyneside over the course of five seasons, it is a no-brainer that the Spaniard was, indeed, a monumentous bargain for the Magpies.
It is true that the Premier League clubs are spendthrifts these days, yet, realistically, they always have to be aware of the financial fair play regulations and it is certainly not possible for them to splash out millions in every transfer window.
And that is exactly why the bargain deals – be it plucking out unproven talents from far corners of the world or nabbing proven players from the lower divisions, are so crucial to the success of any team.
Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at some deals since the turn of the decade when players coming in for thrifty amounts have exceeded expectations.
1. Steven Davis – £800,000 (Rangers to Southampton)
Steven Davis won three Scottish Premiership titles, three Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups over the course his five-season stay at Ibrox, having initially joined the Old Firm giants on loan from Fulham back in 2008.
The Northern Irishman, who was also a part of the Rangers side that reached the 2007-08 UEFA Cup final, moved to Southampton for a paltry £800,000 in 2012 prior to the Gers’ insolvency issues and subsequent demotion to the fourth-tier.
Despite lacking creativity and natural finesse, the central midfielder went on to establish himself as a firm fan favourite at St. Mary’s due to his drive, determination, willingness to compete and hunger for success.
Davis netted 14 goals in 226 appearances for the Saints before returning to Rangers in January 2019.
2. Patrick van Aanholt – £1.5million (Chelsea to Sunderland)
The Dutch international made only 8 appearances for Chelsea over the course of five seasons and spent time on loan at five different clubs, including Vitesse Arnhem where he stayed on for nearly two-and-a-half seasons before finally getting an opportunity to make his mark in the Premier League with Sunderland.
The Black Cats spent just £1.5million to sign the left-back in 2014 and Van Aanholt, who had faded into oblivion as a part of Chelsea’s loan army, went on to establish himself as one of the standout performers at the club.
The Dutchman made 95 appearances for Sunderland in all competitions, scoring 9 goals in the process before joining Crystal Palace in January 2017.
3. James McArthur – £400,000 (Hamilton Academical to Wigan Athletic)
A part of the Hamilton Academical side that won the 2007-08 Scottish First Division title to secure promotion to the Scottish Premiership, James McArthur impressed with his strength, tenacity, drive, fluent passing and youthful exuberance in the top-flight north of the border for a couple of seasons before joining Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2010.
McArthur reunited with former Hamilton player James McCarthy following his move to the DW Stadium.
After featuring sporadically in his first season, McArthur gradually established himself as first-team regular in his second season at the club, scoring against the likes of Bolton and Spurs in the Premier League.
McArthur helped Wigan secure the FA Cup in the 2012-13 season with a surprise 1-0 win against Man City in the final, although the Latics went down to the Championship in the same season.
McArthur stayed for a season in the Championship but he eventually departed for Crystal Palace in 2014.
Wigan are yet to make it back to the Premier League but the Latics would hardly rue the £400,000 that they spent on him given that the Scotsman went on to register a total of 156 appearances for them.
4. Robert Huth – £3million (Stoke City to Leicester City)
After spending five successful seasons at Stoke City in the Premier League, Robert Huth fell out of favour in the 2014-15 campaign and joined Leicester City on loan in January 2015 to help the Foxes in their bid for survival in the top-flight.
Huth made 14 appearances in the second half of the campaign and was one of the key driving forces behind their sudden upturn of form, as Nigel Pearson’s side came back from the brink of relegation to the secure a comfortable 14th-place finish.
As a result of his fine performances, Huth was signed permanently by Leicester for a fee of £3million and the German went on to play a key role in the Foxes’ surprise Premier League triumph in the 2015-16 campaign, thus joining the elite list of players to have won the top-flight title with two different clubs.
The former Chelsea man played until the end of the 2016-17 season before his career came to a premature end due to ankle and foot injuries.
5. Andre Ayew- Free Transfer (Marseille to Swansea City)
Having scored 60 goals in 209 appearances for Marseille, Swansea looked to have pulled off a massive coup when they brought the Ghanaian in on a free transfer in the summer of 2015.
And Ayew proved himself to be the biggest bargain in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season, as the versatile left-winger struck 12 goals in his debut campaign in English football.
Ayew was sold to West Ham just after a single full season, with the Hammers splashing the cash to sign the Ghanaian. However, in a twist of fate, Swansea splashed a similar amount to bring him back to the club in January 2018.
Throwback to Leeds United’s glory days: The Whites’ march to the semi-finals of the 2000-01 UEFA Champions League
A throwback to Leeds United’s glory days: Reliving the Whites march to the semi-finals of the 2000-01 UEFA Champions League
The agonising tale of Leeds United’s dramatic downfall in English football since the turn of the century continues to be a burning topic of discussion amongst the football fans in West Yorkshire, with the Whites’ period of exile from the top-flight completing the 15-year mark at the end of the 2018-19 season.
It looked as if the Yorkshire giants were finally going to be roused from their deep sleep by the Midas touch of manager Marcelo Bielsa, with Leeds operating in the upper reaches of the Championship for large quarters of this past season.
The Whites were on top of the standings at one point of time and it looked for certain that they were going to announce their return to the mainstream of English football in an emphatic manner.
However, as we all know that it is a long and hard slog for each and every team in the second-tier, a poor run of form over the Easter period saw Leeds finish below the automatic promotion places, with Norwich City and Sheffield United securing the top-two berth.
A subsequent 4-3 defeat at the hands Derby County in the playoff semi-finals meant that Leeds’ surge for promotion came to nothing in the end.
Now, it is up to Leeds to put all that disappointment behind themselves and start right from the scratch next season, although that is hardly an easy thing to do.
Rewinding to the time around the turn of the century, Leeds’ start to the new century wasn’t a bad one after all given that the Whites enjoyed a successful campaign on all fronts in the 2000-01 season.
Leeds might be a second-tier club nowadays but things at West Yorkshire were a lot brighter some fifteen years ago when the Whites used to finish in the top-four in the Premier League on a consistent basis and also compete in European tournaments.
The fans of the current generation are unlikely to have any memories of the club taking part in European competitions but they might as well have heard stories from the older heads about Leeds’ heroics on the European stage.
As a matter of fact, the Whites might currently be in oblivion as far as top-flight and European football is concerned but there are fans who surely still recall the success that David O’Leary’s side tasted in the 2000-01 UEFA Champions League.
Leeds were unable to build on their amazing European run though, and went on to compete in the UEFA Cup for a couple of more seasons before ultimately fading into obscurity following their relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2003-04 campaign.
Indeed, the financial crisis at the club was a matter of humiliation at that time and it tarnished Leeds’ image to a great extent.
However, it is definitely worth taking a walk down the memory lane and bringing back the memories of Leeds’ glorious run in the 2000-01 Champions League.
As Marcelo Bielsa and his side get their preparations underway for the upcoming Championship campaign, let us relive the European heroics of David O’Leary’s side from that particular season.
Michael Bridges’ 19 goals in the 1999-00 Premier League season propelled Leeds United to a 3rd-place finish in the league, just behind champions Man United and runners-up Arsenal.
As a result of that, Leeds secured an entry into to the third qualifying round of the 2000-01 UEFA Champions League. Only the top two teams in the Premier League used to secure qualification to the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition in those days.
As a part of their preparations heading into the Champions League, Leeds splashed the cash in the summer of 2000 and brought in a number of high-profile signings, including Olivier Dacourt from Lens, Rio Ferdinand from West Ham, Mark Viduka from Celtic and Dominic Matteo from Liverpool. Robbie Keane was also brought in on loan from Inter Milan in the winter transfer window.
Leeds United were drawn to face German outfit 1860 Munich in the final qualifying round prior to the group stages of the competition and the Whites made it through after 180 minutes of neck-to-neck football over two legs.
The first leg at Elland Road witnessed a tense, hard-fought encounter between the two sides, as O’Leary’s side secured a 2-1 victory to carry a clear advantage into the second leg.
Goals from Alan Smith and Ian Harte on either side of the halfway mark set the tone for Leeds and Paul Agostino’s 90th-minute strike proved to be nothing more than a mere consolation.
With the vital away goal in their pocket, a 1-0 victory at home would have been enough for Munich to guarantee qualification to the group stage. However, Leeds put up a resolute show at the back and kept the opposition at bay, with Alan Smith’s 46th-minute strike sending them through 3-1 on aggregate.
First Group Stage
The Yorkshire giants were drawn in the group of death (Group H) together with continental heavyweights AC Milan and Barcelona, whilst Turkish giants Besiktas were in the mix as well.
Leeds didn’t have the best possible start though, as they kicked off their campaign with a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Goals from Rivaldo and Frank de Boer in the first half coupled with Patrick Kluivert’s brace in the second half sunk the West Yorkshire outfit and marked a dreadful start to the group stages.
They did, however, resurrect their campaign in their second game against AC Milan at Elland Road. Leeds showed plenty of character and resilience to stop their opponents from scoring and Lee Bowyer’s 89th-minute strike handed them a surprise 1-0 victory and a valuable three points.
Up next for Leeds was a double-header against Turkish club Besiktas, the first of which was scheduled to be played at Elland Road.
O’Leary’s men were the favourites heading into the fixture and they hardly gave the opposition any breathing space, as the Whites romped home with an emphatic 6-0 victory. New signings Viduka and Matteo got their names on the scoresheet, while Bowyer once again starred with a brace.
Leeds and Besiktas played out a goalless draw in Turkey before the Whites played host to Barcelona at Elland Road towards the end of October. A repeat of that 4-0 demolition would have been anticipated by many but it proved to be a completely different story when the Whites played the La Liga giants at home.
Bowyer opened the scoring in the 5th minute and it looked as if Leeds were going to bag all three points, only to be denied by a last-minute equaliser from Rivaldo.
The Yorkshire giants went into the final group game at San Siro knowing that a draw would be enough to secure qualification to the next round, given that Milan had already booked their place in the second group stage.
The game finished 1-1, with Serginho’s second-half equaliser cancelling out Matteo’s strike at the halfway mark. Barcelona went on to thrash Besiktas 5-0 but Leeds finished second in Group H with 9 points.
Second Group Stage
Back in the days around the turn of the century, the last 16 format in the Champions League wasn’t a knockout round and it was known as the second group stage.
A draw was conducted to prepare four groups with four teams each, with each group consisting of two winners and two runners-up from the previous round.
Teams from the same country or from the same first-round group could not be drawn together and the top two teams from each group progressed to the quarter-finals.
Group A toppers Real Madrid, Group G winners Anderlecht and Group B runners-up Lazio were paired with Leeds United in the second group stage, draw which was expected to be extremely competitive.
As was the case in the first round, Leeds started off with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid at Elland Road, with goals from Fernando Hierro and Raul Gonzalez handing the Whites an early scare.
They did, however, manage to get things back on track away from home against Lazio in their second game, as Alan Smith’s strike late in the fixture sealed three crucial points for David O’Leary side.
Leeds’ victory over the Lazio ensured that they went into the Christmas period with their European hopes still very much intact.
Following the winter break, Leeds played host to Anderlecht at Elland Road and the double-header against the Belgian giants was always going to go a long way towards deciding the Whites’ fortunes.
Leeds went a goal down, courtesy of Alin Stoica’s strike in the 65th-minute but they rallied on, and late goals from Bowyer and Harte sealed a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory to hand O’Leary’s side a massive boost heading into the reverse leg in Belgium.
The return leg in Belgium proved to be a rather one-sided encounter though, as Smith’s brace and goals from Viduka and Harte propelled Leeds to a comfortable 4-1 win, thus guaranteeing their progress to the quarter-finals.
Leeds’ away fixture against Real Madrid early in March turned out to be an epic encounter, with both the sides going hammer and tongs at each other. Alan Smith’s 6th-minute opener was cancelled out by Raul’s goal in the very next minute before Luis Figo handed the Los Blancos a 2-1 lead going into the interval.
Leeds found the equaliser through Mark Viduka’s strike in the second half but Raul’s 61st-minute winner proved to be the difference between the two sides as the game finished 3-2 in favour of the Spanish heavyweights.
The final game of the second group stage at Elland Road against Lazio proved to be an entertaining see-saw battle, although the game finished 3-3 and the teams shared the spoils.
Leeds finished as runners-up in Group D behind Real Madrid and booked their berth in the quarter-finals.
Leeds were paired to face Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna in the last-eight of the competition and the tie was expected to be anything but straightforward for the Yorkshire giants.
However, O’Leary’s men silenced their critics in the first leg at Elland Road, as Leeds romped home with an emphatic 3-0 scoreline and virtually sealed the tie in their favour heading into the second leg in Spain.
Goals from Smith, Ferdinand and Harte handed the Whites a clear advantage but it proved to be a bit of an anti-climax in the reverse fixture away from home.
Having been completely outplayed by Leeds in the first game, Deportivo showed a lot more quality on their home turf and gave the Yorkshire outfit a big scare, as a penalty from Djalminha and a second-half goal from Diego Tristan handed the Spaniards a 2-0 victory.
Leeds failed to hit top gear in Spain but they progressed to the semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate scoreline, nonetheless.
David O’Leary successfully guided Leeds United to their first European Cup semi-final since 1975 and the home tie against Valencia at Elland Road was always going to be a monumentous occasion for the fans.
However, Leeds never managed to score in the first leg at home, with them failing to convert several clear-cut chances in front of a raucous home crowd. The Whites left themselves with a lot of work to do in the away leg at Mestalla.
Given that the first leg had finished 0-0, Leeds knew that a 1-0 victory or even a 1-1 draw away from home would be enough to set up a final showdown with Bayern Munich. However, Valencia proved themselves to be a difficult opposition to overcome on their home turf and Leeds found themselves playing catch-up for the entire ninety minutes.
Juan Sanchez opened the scoring for Valencia in the 15th minute before the Spaniard netted his second of the night just after the interval to make it 2-0 in favour of the La Liga side. And Gaizka Mendieta’s strike just after a few minutes meant that Leeds had a mountain to climb.
There was no fairytale comeback, however, from the Yorkshire giants and O’Leary’s side finally bowed out of the competition in the last four stage. Bayern Munich went on to register a penalty shootout victory over Valencia in the final and the Bavarian giants lifted the trophy at the San Siro.
Raul finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 7 goals, while Leeds duo Lee Bowyer and Alan Smith also found their names right up there with 6 and 5 goals respectively. The Whites failed to make it to the finals but their glorious run will always be a part of the history books at Elland Road.
5 players since the turn of the century who have tasted success following the cross-border transfer from the SPL to the EPL
5 players since the turn of the century to have tasted success following the cross-border transfer from the SPL to the EPL
Over the years since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, we have seen players from England move north of the border to the Scottish Premiership with varying degrees of success.
Focussing on things since the turn of the century, the Scottish top-flight has become an escape route for players in England who fail to make the grade or want to resurrect their career by drifting away from the intense level of competition.
Yet, there have been instances when the sheer reputation and pulling power of Celtic and Rangers have prompted established Premier League players like Neil Lennon, John Hartson, Chris Sutton and Tore Andre Flo to fly north of the border with the hope of pursuing a successful career.
However, it is worth mentioning here that the likes of Celtic and Rangers often struggle to keep hold of some top-quality young talents when the Premier League clubs come knocking on the door with big-money offers.
We all know that money doesn’t flow in the Scottish Premiership as easily as it does in the Premier League, meaning that Celtic and Rangers, despite being massive clubs with a lot of history, cannot compete financially with the English clubs.
While a lot of players from English football, even the aged ones, move north of the border with a lot of success, not too many players manage to do the same the other way round.
Now, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out as to why this happens. Barring the obvious difference in the quality of football between the two leagues in question, the level of competition in English football is also quite high as compared to the Scottish top-flight.
Interestingly, there have been some marked instances since the turn of the century when players from Celtic or Rangers have actually made a cross-border transfer with a lot of success.
The most recent of those has to be Southampton’s acquisition of Stuart Armstrong from Celtic last summer and while the Scottish playmaker only chipped in with 3 goals and 2 assists in the Premier League this past season, it would be fair to say that he did reasonably well for an underperforming unit in his debut season in England.
Without any further delay, let us look at some of the success stories of players to have moved south of the border from the SPL to the EPL.
Only players who have moved from Scotland to England without any previous experience in any division of English football have been considered for discussion, which eliminates someone like Fraser Forster.
1. Virgil van Dijk
The towering Dutch centre-back has to be at the top of the list simply because he is the greatest cross-border success story ever. Van Dijk is very much a household name in Europe nowadays but he was a completely unknown commodity when Celtic purchased him from Dutch club Groningen in the summer of 2013.
The Dutchman has hardly looked back since then and established himself as one of the mainstays of Celtic’s backline over the course of his successful two years at Parkhead, guiding the Hoops to back-to-back Scottish league titles and the Scottish League Cup in the 2014-15 season.
As a matter of fact, van Dijk made it to the Scottish Premiership Team of the Year in each of his two seasons at Celtic.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was the man responsible for bringing him to the Premier League and the Saints splashed £13million to secure his services in 2015 and what followed is known to all.
Van Dijk established himself as one of the most consistent centre-backs in the entire division and outgrew his humble surroundings at St.Mary’s before earning a £75million move to Liverpool in January 2018, which made him the most expensive centre-back in the world.
His stay at Anfield has proven to be a resounding success, with the Dutchman playing a key role in Liverpool’s 2nd-place finish in the 2018-19 Premier League season and guiding them to their first UEFA Champions League triumph since 2005.
He has already played in two European finals and Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that there is a lot more to come from van Dijk in the upcoming campaigns.
2. Stiliyan Petrov
Stiliyan Petrov was hardly a superstar when Celtic brought him in from Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia back in 1999 but seven seasons of resounding success at Parkhead, which included four Scottish league titles, transformed him into a household name in Europe.
As a matter of fact, Petrov was a key figure in Celtic’s march to the UEFA Cup final back in 2002-03.
His consistently impressive performances didn’t go unnoticed from the teams south of the border and former Hoops manager Martin O’Neill was the man responsible for bringing the combative Bulgarian midfield enforcer to Aston Villa in the summer of 2006.
Petrov hardly had any problems dealing with the competitive nature of the Premier League and went on to establish himself as a cult hero at Villa Park, racking up a staggering 219 appearances for the Lions in all competitions over the course of six fruitful seasons before his career ended prematurely due to leukaemia.
3. Victor Wanyama
Wanyama was plying his trade with Belgian club Beerschot in the Belgian top-flight when Celtic snapped him up in the summer of 2011. That marked the Kenyan’s metaphoric rise in football from a complete rookie to a Premier League star.
The tough-tackling midfielder went on to win back-to-back domestic titles with Celtic and earned plenty of plaudits for his daunting and fearless displays, most notably scoring a powerful header to help the Hoops stun Barcelona in the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League.
Southampton splashed £12.5million in the summer of 2013 to bring Wanyama to the Premier League and he became the first Kenyan international to play in the top-flight of English football.
Wanyama proved himself to be a tailor-made fit for the Premier League and reached great heights over the course of his three-season stay on the south coast, making 97 appearances in the process.
Having helped Southampton to an impressive 6th-place finish in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season, Wanyama completed a transfer to Tottenham for a fee of £11million to fulfil his dream of playing in the Champions League.
In his first season in North London, the Kenyan established himself as one of the key figures in the midfield and operated as a part of manager Mauricio Pochettino’s double pivot midfield.
Wanyama’s influence has gradually waned over the past couple of campaigns due to his struggles with injuries but his cross-border success story remains truly an inspiring one.
4. Mark Viduka
Mark Viduka made his move to Celtic Park in December 1998 with a lot of goals for Dinamo Zagreb under his belt, and the towering Socceroos centre-forward proved his credentials very soon.
He stayed at Parkhead only for a single full season but that was enough for him to get his name into the history books, as the Australian international racked up 25 goals in 28 league appearances in the 1999-00 season, also winning the Scottish League Cup in the process.
Viduka’s stocks were rocketing sky-high after his goalscoring heroics at Parkhead. Leeds United manager David O’Leary was the quickest to react, snapping up the striker in the summer of 2000.
Viduka went on to establish himself as a bona fide goalscorer in his first season at Elland Road and struck 22 goals in competitions, including all four in a memorable 4-3 victory over Liverpool at home.
The Australian also racked up 4 goals in Leeds’ march to the semi-finals of the Champions League in his first season, which is still the record for the most number of goals scored by an Australian player in the Champions League.
Viduka’s incredible strike rate at West Yorkshire saw him finish with 68 goals in 158 outings before he made his move to Middlesbrough in 2004 following the financial crisis at Elland Road.
Leeds’ stay in the top-flight came to an abrupt end but Viduka’s success story didn’t. He went on to register 41 goals in 98 appearances at Teesside before a final swansong at Newcastle United.
He didn’t have the pace to bother defences but he certainly won a lot of hearts with his natural finesse and razor-sharp reflexes in front of goal.
5. Shaun Maloney
The diminutive 5ft 7in playmaker broke on to the scene at Celtic in the 2000-01 season under Martin O’Neill but he found regular minutes hard to come by in the subsequent campaigns and was used largely on a rotational basis.
Nevertheless, he spent seven seasons in his first stint at Parkhead and won four domestic league titles before O’Neill, then in charge of Aston Villa, brought him to the Premier League in January 2007.
Maloney’s stint at Villa Park proved to be a mediocre one as the versatile playmaker netted 7 goals in 33 appearances for the Lions in all competitions. He headed back to Celtic but his second stint at Parkhead coincided with Rangers’ dominance in Scottish football.
Maloney did return to the Premier League, however, with Wigan Athletic willing to offer him a return to south of the border. Maloney moved to Wigan in 2011 and he proved his critics wrong under the guidance of Roberto Martinez, as the Scotsman went on to play a key role in the Latics FA Cup winning campaign in the 2012-13 season.
He even pledged his loyalty to the club following their relegation from the Premier League and plied his trade in the Championship.
Maloney switched boats to join Hull City in the Championship following a brief stint at Chicago Fire in the MLS and subsequently went on to represent the Tigers in the Premier League before hanging up his boots.
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