Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Season preview: Wolves a high-powered promoted team

Leave a comment

Wolverhampton Wanderers at a glance

Premier League titles: 0 (English First Division titles – 3 — 1953/54, 1957/58, 1958/59)
FA Cups: 4 (1893, 1908, 1949, 1960)
League Cups: 2 (1974, 1980)

[ MORE: 2018-19 PL season preview hub ]  


They will challenge for top half because… The roster, man. Joao Moutinho? Rui Patricio? On a promoted team? Come on. There are questions of adaptability to the league, but it won’t be a surprise should Wolves scrap enough points to be in the discussion for a top half finish come January.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

They’ll fail to launch and find relegation a probability if… they can’t quickly find their footing in a tricky first half-dozen match days. Apart from the challenges of Manchester City and Manchester United, Wolves will meet Leicester City, Everton, Burnley, and West Ham. Not a dud amongst the bunch.


Transfers in: Diogo Jota ($16 million, Atletico Madrid), Willy Boly ($14 million, Porto), Joao Moutinho ($7 million, Monaco), Leo Bonatini ($5.5 million, Hilal), Raul Jimenez ($4 million loan, Benfica), Rui Patricio (free transfer, Sporting Lisbon), Jonny Castro (loan, Atletico Madrid).

Transfers out: Benik Afobe (loan, Stoke City), Barry Douglas ($5 million Leeds), Ben Marshall ($2.5 million, Norwich City).


Best possible XI

—– Patricio —–

—- Jonny —-  Saiss —-  Boly — Vinagre —- 

—- Neves —- Moutinho —-

—- Cavaliero —- Costa —-Jota —-

 —- Jimenez —-


Ranking their offseason: 9/10 – Joao Moutinho for $7 million? That alone is insane, even with Wolves’ connection to Portugal. Throw in Raul Jimenez (El Tri!), Diogo Jota, and Rui Patricio, and it’s difficult to see Wolves not beating the drop.


Star player: Joao Moutinho — There are other candidates for this position, but the AS Monaco man was strong in both Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League last season. The 31-year-old has been linked with everyone from Manchester United to Real Madrid during his celebrated career; Who would have thought he’d wind up at the Molineux.

Coaches’ Corner: Nuno Espirito Santo — The 44-year-old is a rising name in the management, winning more than half his matches at Valencia and Porto before spearheading Wolves’ run to the Premier League. He’ll have a chance to really raise his profile as a story of the season.


PST Predicts: A hot enough start allows Wolves to focus on cups, where they make a decent run in either the League or FA Cup while finishing somewhere between 14th and 11th.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

FA Cup qualifier to be replayed after team walks off for racist abuse

Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town that was abandoned following racist abuse will be replayed next week.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

The Football Association said Monday that the match will be replayed from the start on Oct. 29 at Haringey’s home ground.

Saturday’s game saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty. Haringey officials said after the game that its Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Pajetat and defender Coby Rowe had both been targeted by racial abuse by visiting fans.

London police said they had arrested two men, age 23 and 26, on Monday on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault in connection with the incident.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

The FA said: “Following the incident in the original tie and the two arrests already made, the FA’s investigation is ongoing. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities on our investigation into the matter.”

The winner of the game will advance to the first round of the FA Cup.