Verratti signs on with super agent Mino Raiola

Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images
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The plot is thickening when it comes to Marco Verratti, the want-away Paris Saint-Germain midfielder reportedly targeting a move to Barcelona or Manchester United.

Verratti confirmed Wednesday that he’s left agent Donato Di Campli in favor of the services of super agent Mino Raiola, whose clientele includes Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sergio Romero, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

[ MORE: Where does Morata rank in PL? ]

No, he doesn’t only represent United men — he has several AC Milan charges as well as PSG’s Blaise Matuidi and Nice striker Mario Balotelli — but the move will only serve to get Old Trafford tongues wagging at the idea of the stalwart Italian center midfielder giving more freedom to Pogba.

Verratti, 24, remains contracted to PSG through 2020-21, and Barcelona has acknowledged interest in the midfielder. He’s also been linked with a part swap for Neymar.

Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

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For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, we get it: There’s something rather dull about not wondering the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, but just the number of his final tally.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 14 goals from eight games has him seven goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

His third hat trick of the season, joined by three Phil Foden goals in Man City’s 6-3 derby win over United, keeps him on pace for more than 60 goals this season, a mark that would

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s already becoming clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is not farfetched at all.

Take a look at these digits. Haaland isn’t just punching in goals; He’s made an almost seamless transition to Pep Guardiola’s system, producing chances for others in addition to his powerful self-positioning.

Erling Haaland
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Haaland is unlikely to hit even 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

  1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 14
  2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 7
  3. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 6
  4. Phil Foden, Man City — 5
  5. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 5
  6. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — 5
  7. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
  8. Leandro Trossard — Brighton — 5
  9. Three tied with 3. (Alexis Mac Allister, Rodrigo, Wilfried Zaha)

Aston Villa rues waste in scoreless draw at 10-man Leeds

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Leeds vs Aston Villa was a cagey affair that felt destined for its scoreless outcome even after Luis Sinisterra was sent off early in the second half at Elland Road.

Suspended manager Jesse Marsch watched from the stands as Sinisterra, on a yellow card, stuck his leg out to block a restart and was shown a second yellow.

WATCH LEEDS vs ASTON VILLA FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM

Leeds defended well down a man and Aston Villa continued to struggle on the heels of a first half that contained several missed chances.

Leeds gets its ninth point through seven matches, while Villa’s a point behind with one more match played in its season.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


What we learned from Leeds vs Aston Villa

Villa a mess in the final third: Wow. To watch Aston Villa is to see a team in control of the midfield — Douglas Luiz was sublime on Sunday — but there are too many individuals in the final third. Philippe Coutinho was lively but if has to score if the attack is going to be all about him. The same came be said about Emiliano Buendia, while Ollie Watkins and (then) Danny Ings aren’t getting much service. Villa’s xG going into the game was the second-worst in the Premier League and they are still underperforming it.

Leeds will take something from this: Tyler Adams, Robin Koch, and the exceptional Illan Meslier held down the fort for nearly a full half with 10 men. By the 70th minute it was clear this was going to be all about an away point unless the counterattack could help Leeds to a goal. And there was a chance for that, but there’s no reason to be frustrated by the point (although Brenden Aaronson should’ve had a penalty when his ankle was kicked while taking a shot. The strength of what he did manage likely led to the VAR inaction, incorrectly).


Tactical focus

The red card, as it tends to do, changed the game completely and Leeds was hanging on for the final whistle. Marsch, from his seat in the stands, sanctioned the removal of Rodrigo, Jack Harrison, and eventually Brenden Aaronson to join the ejected Sinisterra. Villa controlled the midfield through a superb Douglas Luiz but could not find a way past a stellar Illan Meslier as Junior Firpo, Luke Ayling, and Mateusz Klich reinforced the defense at the back end.

[ MORE: Man City clobbers Man UtdPlayer ratings out of 10 ]

Douglas Luiz
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Stars of the show

Illan Meslier

Douglas Luiz

Ashley Young

Robin Koch

Philippe Coutinho


What’s next

Leeds heads to Crystal Palace for a 9am ET Sunday kickoff, while Villa will take a trip to the City Ground for a Monday, Oct. 10 visit to Nottingham Forest.


How to watch Leeds vs Aston Villa live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

As expected under Marsch, Leeds have taken a high-volume approach to their tactics — lots of pressing and challenges, lots of counter-attacking and lots of scoring chances created. Their 1.57 expected goals (per 90 minutes) ranks 7th in the Premier League. Leeds haven’t played a game (in any competition) since Sept. 3, one day shy of a month come Sunday, due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ensuing fixture postponements. Leading goal-scorer Rodrigo remains out with a shoulder injury, but the Spaniard could be back in the next week or two.

Goal-scoring has been a major issue thus far for Aston Villa, who have scored multiple goals in a game just once this season. Six different players have scored a goal, but no one has scored two. Unsurprisingly, Steven Gerrard’s side sits 19th in the PL for xG (0.76 per 90).


Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT:  Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (ankle)

Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee), Matty Cash (hamstring)

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Erik ten Hag says Manchester United lacked belief to play with Man City

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Erik ten Hag says Manchester United’s mistakes allowed them to get “hammered” by rivals Manchester City in a 6-3 loss at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Ten Hag’s visitors weren’t even as good as the score line, as Phil Foden and Erling Haaland scored hat tricks to give City a 6-1 lead and Pep Guardiola subbed liberally with the game well in hand.

[ MORE: Man City clobbers Man Utd | Player ratings out of 10 ]

Antony scored United’s first goal to make it 4-1 for a few moments, and Anthony Martial came off the bench to bag a brace in the final few minutes of the match.

Ten Hag appeared distressed at times, and the manager has been criticized for trying to import his system on the game against a stylish and sound Man City powerhouse.

Erik ten Hag reaction after Manchester derby blowout loss.

Ten Hag says he told the players that what he saw at the game was a matter of disbelief.

Some early post-match video seems to have reinforced his thoughts.

“Lack of belief,” Ten Hag said. “I have seen some highlights. It was obvious we are defending not on the front foot, we let them play. In possession, we were not brave enough, made tactical mistakes, decision mistakes, and then you get hammered.

“They showed against Liverpool and Arsenal: When they perform as a team, when they bring the belief on the pitch, starting individual, we will show them and you cannot deny. In the last five games, we bring that attitude on the pitch, a strong belief, convincement, we bring opponents problems. Today, it was the other way around.”

“It’s normal in our process that pattern has to go up and I think I see clearly it goes up and we have setbacks during that process and we have to learn from it but point it clearly out. We can walk away from it but if we do it we won’t get the solution. So we will do it, we will be very clear and we have to move on and carry on to the next game.”

City beats a lot of teams by a lot of goals. United’s resolve to keep fighting while being, essentially, clobbered by their derby rivals should say something to the boss. But Ten Hag wants better and he says he sees what’s wrong.

In a separate interview, Ten Hag claimed that Sunday’s 4-0 start was different to the same score line posted by Brentford against Manchester United over 45 minutes.

“This is definitely different. We didn’t run there. We wanted to today but didn’t follow the priniciples. It was a lack of belief. I will show the team that we could have been front-footed. We win the ball then give it away for the first goal. We take wrong decisions in the transition afterwards. We don’t follow the rules so we are undisciplined. It cannot happen. It is unacceptable.

“It is a process. It is one game. Maybe against other teams the problems would not come but against Manchester City they will. I want to change the head and attitude from the team. There was a reaction in the second half. We were more brave and scored three goals. Only from mistakes you learn.”

Ten Hag was criticized for his team selection in some parts — this writer included — but convincing the players there were spaces to go toe-to-toe with City will require a real Masterclass. Maybe he should tape the tape!

He’s a heck of a manager and a good bet to fix what ails United, but Ten Hag surely knows that his Manchester United was not set up to succeed on Sunday. That makes twice early this season, as the growing pains continue at Old Trafford but the silver linings are present as well.

Bruno Lage fired by Wolves

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Wolves have cut ties with head coach Bruno Lage after a little more than a year on the job.

The 46-year-old Lage took over for Nuno Espirito Santo last season and finishes his tenure with a record of 19W-9D-23L across all competitions.

[ MORE: Man City clobbers Man Utd | Player ratings out of 10 ]

Wolves improved their point total from 2020-21 to 2021-22, but the Portuguese boss has overseen a poor start to the 2022-23 Premier League season despite purchases of Goncalo Guedes, Nathan Collins, and Matheus Nunes.

Wolves also bought Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic, who has since torn his ACL, and the club has failed to manufacture offense at almost every turn.

The club fell 2-0 to West Ham on Saturday and has scored just three goals this season. Wolves sit 18th on the Premier League table, and visit Chelsea on Saturday.

Bruno Lage sacked: What does it mean for Wolves?

Lage firmed up Wolves’ defending last season but his attack has struggled as Raul Jimenez hasn’t reached pre-injury heights and Adama Traore’s been often kept on the bench in favor of a more defensive stance.

Traore is one of the possible beneficiaries of a change, as both Espirito Santo and Lage stripped him of regular starter status but did not sanction a sale for the solid speedster.

Lage played five at the back for much of last season but went to four this season and also tooled around with a three-man back line.

There are some very good pieces for a new manager, who still has Ruben Neves, Pedro Neto, Max Kilman, Collins, and Rayan Ait-Nouri amongst the admired players on the squad.

Wolves statement on firing Bruno Lage

Wolves chairman Jeff Shi said: “Bruno is an excellent coach, a hardworking and dedicated manager, and a warm, wise and honest man.

“He and his staff have been a pleasure to work with throughout their time at Wolves, so it is with much sadness that we have had to make what has been a difficult decision.

“I honestly have no doubts about Bruno’s ability, and I’m sure he will succeed elsewhere, however the team’s form and performances over the last few months mean that we have no choice but to act.

“On behalf of everyone at Wolves, I would like to place on record our gratitude to Bruno and his coaching team for all their efforts during their time with the club, and wish them the very best for the future.”