Watford 3-0 Liverpool: Hornets capitalize on early Bogdan mistake for storming win

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Watford has played Liverpool 17 times in top flight league play in their history. Today was the first time Watford entered the match ahead on points. The only thing that changed following the match was their winning streak.

The Hornets secured a comprehensive 3-0 victory that began just three minutes in as Nathan Ake pounced on a mistake by Liverpool fill-in goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, and Odion Igahlo bagged a brace to deservedly put things away. Watford were the better team from start to finish, and the Reds have plenty of thinking to do heading into the holiday season.

The opener came nearly straight away when Ake won a corner as Watford controlled early. The corner swung in too close to Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, but on his Liverpool league debut with his first touch, the 28-year-old dropped the ball, and Ake was there to touch it in for his first senior goal. Bogdan, in for the injured Simon Mignolet who himself has struggled at times this season, saw his team go behind just over two minutes into the match.

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Liverpool worked hard to get on the ball and get back level, but Watford struck again, this time on the break. With the ball bouncing around in midfield, it fell for Tony Deeney who sent Igahlo through one-on-one with Martin Skrtel. Igahlo won the battle with strength and speed, holding off the Liverpool defender and poking the ball clinically to the far post past Bogdan for a 2-0 lead just 15 minutes into the game.

Watford continued to be the most dangerous side, and just past the half-hour mark they nearly grabbed a third. Bogdan failed to collect a bouncing ball again and the ball poked towards the net but Skrtel was there to collect and clear.

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Skrtel found himself struggling with back and leg injuries, and was forced off five minutes before halftime, replaced by Divock Origi.

Following the break, the home side remained dangerous as Deeney, Igahlo, and Jose Jurado routinely beat the Liverpool back line despite often being out-manned. The Reds were continually forced to scramble the ball away, and Bogdan was required to make an exceptional save on 63 minutes after Sakho slipped letting Igahlo alone on net.

The Reds had their best chance of the game on 66 minutes, as Henderson tried to loop the keeper from close range but Heurehlo Gomez acrobatically lept to push the ball away. He was needed again five minutes later as Emre Can latched onto a poor clear and shot to the near post. The Watford defense held strong, though, and Jurgen Klopp made a pair of changes up front bringing on Jordan Ibe and Christian Benteke in place of Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino who were largely ineffective.

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Watford absorbed the pressure from Liverpool over the final 15 minutes and Igahlo made things 3-0 with five minutes to go as Valon Behrami came off the bench to serve up a beautiful cross that Igahlo nodded past Bogdan to secure the win.

Watford earned their first marquee win of the season, and their fourth straight victory, something they haven’t done in top flight league play since 1987. The three points pushed the Hornets up to 28 on the season, just a point off the top four. Liverpool, just a point shy of Watford coming into the match, remain back in ninth, unable to separate themselves from the mid-table pack.

Aston Villa gets its man in prolific Tanzanian captain Samatta

Aston Villa signs Tanzanian captain
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Aston Villa has captured its center forward, signing Tanzanian national team captain Mbwana Samatta in its bid for Premier League safety.

Samatta turned 27 last month and has 51 caps with 18 goals for Tanzania. He’s ineligible to play for Villa when it hosts Watford on Tuesday (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET online on NBCSports.com).

The fee is reported as $13 million.

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“I’m so excited. It’s a huge step for me and my career. For all the people from Tanzania, it’s a big step for the country as well. Everybody is so on it, they are looking to see one Tanzanian guy who can play in the Premier League. Here today I’m him, and I’m so happy.”

The striker scored 26 times last season for Genk, and has 76 goals for the club since arriving in 2015. He scored against Liverpool and twice versus Red Bull Salzburg in this season’s Champions League group stage.

He spent time with Congolese club TP Mazembe and Tanzanian side Simba SC before that.

Villa’s 22 points are back of the Premier League’s safe spaces, and the Midlands club is a win away from the League Cup final. The semifinal second leg at Leicester City takes place Jan. 28.

Real Madrid adds Brazilian teen phenom Reinier Jesus

Real Madrid adds Reinier Jesus
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Barcelona and Real Madrid may be neck-and-neck in the short-term, but the Madrid side keeps landing stars for the bigger picture.

The latest add is Reinier Jesus, a $33 million price affixed to the teenage phenom from Brazilian side Flamengo. As Joel Soria wrote earlier this month, the victorious fee is around half of Reinier’s reported release clause.

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Marca brands the kid a physically-gifted player in the Kaka mold, which is lofty praise given the latter won a Ballon d’Or.

Reinier, an attacking midfielder, joins wingers Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior in forming a young Brazilian heart of the squad’s future.

Renieir, no relation to Man City forward Gabriel Jesus, turned 18 on Sunday. He is coming off six goals and two assists in 17 senior appearances for Flamengo and is expected to be one of the stars of Brazil’s Olympic qualifying fight, which is currently underway in Colombia.

That team, should they qualify, would be terrifying at full strength. Brazil could utilize Douglas Luiz, Rodrygo, Thiago Maia, Wendel, and Renan Lodi.


Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

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Here are the latest Prince-Wright‘s Premier League picks ahead of Matchweek 24 in the Premier League, the midweek slate of games.

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If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.


With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


Everton 2-0 Newcastle– (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Aston Villa 0-2 Watford – (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]

Tottenham 3-1 Norwich – (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]


Bournemouth 2-1 Brighton – (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]

Leicester 1-1 West Ham – (Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Wolves 1-2 Liverpool – (Thursday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Crystal Palace 1-1 Southampton – (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Man United 2-2 Burnley – (Wednesday 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]


Sheffield United 2-1 Man City – (Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal – (Tuesday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

USMNT’s Bradley suffers serious ankle injury; Altidore hits out

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USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley will reportedly be out for up to four months due to an ankle injury he suffered playing for Toronto FC in the 2019 MLS Cup final against Seattle. That was the MLS Cup final, in November.

The TFC skipper, 32, suffered the serious ankle injury during the game and per reports he has been rehabbing the ankle over the past two months. However, that hasn’t had the desired effect and now ankle surgery is his only option.

Via Joshua Kloke from The Athletic, TFC’s General Manager Ali Curtis confirmed that Bradley will have ankle surgery in New York City on Tuesday. Curtis added that “surgery was a last resort and club believed they could rehab injury.”

Bradley’s teammates with Toronto and USMNT, Jozy Altidore, then hit out at the handling of the situation as Toronto will be without their leader for almost half of thee MLS season.

“Make no mistake. In my opinion, for me, it was handled poorly,” Altidore told reporters as TFC returned to practice on Monday, as he insinuated that Bradley was put in a tough position by the club over his injury.

The injury will reportedly keep him out for at least four months, meaning he will miss a huge chunk of the MLS season and also the USMNT’s friendlies against the Netherlands (March 26) and Wales (March 30).

This is a hammer blow for Toronto as Bradley led the organization on and off the pitch since he arrived in 2014, reaching three MLS Cup finals in the last four seasons. He only signed a new contract with Toronto FC over the offseason as his previous deal expired but it will be intriguing to see how this all plays out as Altidore obviously believes this situation could have been handled a lot better.

USMNT fans will now focus on having some of their younger players take the lead in central midfield in March and maybe beyond, with Tyler Adams now back to full fitness as he looks set to become Gregg Berhalter’s go-to guy in midfield.

Bradley’s displays in recent seasons have been lamented by USMNT fans but Berhalter has made him an integral part of his plans and he is one of the few players who survived the massive cull from the 2018 World Cup qualifying debacle. Losing Bradley for this amount of time is a big blow for club and country.