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Premier League preview: Wolves v. Manchester United

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  • Man United aiming for two out of two
  • Wolves searching for first PL goal of season
  • Wolves unbeaten in last eight PL home games

A seemingly revitalized Manchester United looks to reverse last season’s road woes as the Red Devils travel to Monlieux to take on a bugaboo opponent in Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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Wolves took four points off Manchester United last season and was unbeaten in three matches against the Red Devils across all competitions. Not only that, but Manchester United has not won in its last four Premier League road matches, their worst run since 2014, and seven of their 10 losses last league campaign came away from the friendly confines of Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be buoyed by the surprising 4-0 opening day win over Chelsea as new boy Harry Maguire helped lock down the Blues on defense, but sustainability is key for the Red Devils this season and two wins out of two against a pair of quality opponents will go a much longer way than a single result. Solskjaer’s biggest selection decision will be whether to give Juan Mata the start after his appearance off the bench against Chelsea or stick with 23-year-old Andreas Pereira in the central attacking role, although both will likely see the field at some point.

Wolves, meanwhile, have looked blistering in their Europa League journey thus far, but played to a drab 0-0 draw with Leicester City in their opening Premier League match, suggesting heavy European fixture congestion could be wearing on the squad. Raul Jimenez has four goals in four Europa League matches but was held to just two shots – both off target – against the Foxes and appeared frustrated as the game wore on. He and Diogo Jota were both rested for the midweek win over Armenian club Pyunik along with seven other first-teamers, so rest could be a major factor.


Projected lineups

Wolves: Rui Patricio; Boly, Bennett, Coady; Moutinho, Dendoncker, Neves, Doherty, Otto; Jota, Jimenez.

Man United: De Gea; Shaw, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Pogba, Lingard, Rashford, Mata; Martial.


What they’re saying

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo on last year’s record vs Man United: “It’s going to be a tough challenge, a new game, totally different to what we did in the past which doesn’t count at all. First of all, the players know they’re going to face a very tough opponent; a fantastic club, a fantastic squad, fantastic players, talent all over the place. All the good players in all the good teams can make a difference. We want to compete. We want to play. We know it’s going to be very difficult for us, but we will be ready. That’s the important part, we will be ready.”

Solskjaer on using past failures v. Wolves: “They were tough games and Wolverhampton are a hard team to break down, they defend deep, don’t give you a lot of spaces, and they can play, they can counter-attack, set pieces are always dangerous. So, we’ve been looking at the games we’ve had last season, see if there’s any tweaks or different things we need to do this time. But our form, our attitude and, yeah, the mood after the win is great from last season, so we go into the game confident.”


Prediction

Manchester United may have beaten Chelsea down on the scoreline in the season opener, but the Blues were slightly unlucky not to score, hitting the post twice and holding good spells of dangerous possession. If Manchester United is not improved defensively against a good attacking Wolves squad, they will be frustrated at the back and make mistakes. Wolves remains a bad matchup for the Red Devils and at home, they will come away with an exciting 2-2 draw and yet another point off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

LAFC’s Adama Diomande voluntarily enters MLS’s health program

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande has entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

MLS announced Diomande’s voluntary decision Friday.

Diomande won’t play for LAFC at least until the program’s doctors complete their evaluation and he is cleared by program officials.

The 29-year-old Norwegian scorer has eight goals and seven assists in 25 appearances this season, including 15 starts. He has played a valuable complementary offensive role alongside MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Sergiño Dest ]

Diomande is in his second MLS season after joining LAFC from Hull City. He also previously played under LAFC coach Bob Bradley in Norway.

LAFC (19-4-7) has clinched the Western Conference title, and it leads the overall MLS table by seven points despite a four-game winless streak.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Brighton

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  • Early-season relegation battlers meet on Saturday
  • 18th-place Newcastle to host 16th-place Brighton
  • Brighton won at Newcastle, drew at home last season

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, a pair of Premier League sides with just two wins from the first five weeks of the season between them, will meet at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) for what could prove to be a retrospective relegation six-pointer when May rolls around.

Each side replaced its manager — Steve Bruce for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle; Graham Potter for Chris Hughton at Bright — in the summer and neither of the new bosses has had a particularly enjoyable start to the 2019-20 campaign. Brighton won on the opening day of the season, but have taken just two points from the following four games. Newcastle lost their first two games, won their third, and have drawn and lost again since. It’s the kind of form that’ll see both sides stuck in the high-teens of the PL table if they don’t find their footing in the coming weeks.

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Things are particularly worrying for Newcastle, who didn’t they’d be without Benitez until the end of June and didn’t appoint Bruce until mid-July. Key players had already left the club and reinforcements for few and far between. Forward Joelinton joined for $50 million and is one of four players with a single goal scored thus far.

Last week was nearly fruitful for the Seagulls, until the conceded a stoppage-time equalizer and settle for a point at home against Burnley. Summer signing Neal Maupay bagged his second goal for Brighton earlier in the game, giving Potter a potential trump card over a handful of other relegation-threatened sides without a consistent goalscorer.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeune (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – DeAndre Yedlin (groin)

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Ezequiel Schelotto (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Joelinton

Brighton: Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Webster – March, Stephens, Propper, Burn – Gross, Maupay, Murray


What they’re saying

Joelinton, on Andy Carroll: “It’s always great to have experienced players in the group, and he’s one of them. He can help the club, he can help the young players. Andy Carroll has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League, and it’s great to be playing alongside him. He’s a calm guy. I still haven’t spoken to him a lot because my English isn’t great! But every day he’s trying to help. He’ll help me before the games, he’ll give me positional advice and suggest what I’ve done both good and bad.”

Graham Potter, on the trip to Newcastle: “Newcastle away is a tough game just like all the others. We don’t target particular matches — it’s about what we need to do to get a positive result. They have an experienced manager who I came across last year and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. They have good quality players and we know it can be a hostile environment, it’s a big club and we know we have to play well to get something.  Steve has a lot of games under his belt – he’s had a lot of success and he’ll understand the challenge that lies ahead.


Prediction

Newcastle haven’t scored multiple goals in a game yet this season, and they’ve conceded twice as many as they’ve scored (four). It’s hard to trust them to be anything resembling consistent from game to game. It wouldn’t be surprising if they battled to a boring 0-0 draw, or conceding three times before halftime. It’ll probably be closer to the former, a 1-1 stalemate.

AC Milan announces internal anti-racism task force

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MILAN (AP) AC Milan has announced it will establish an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

The club says the task force will be supported by “an external consultancy” and “develop a program of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behavior on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”

The move comes after reports of racist chants directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who is black, during a match at Hellas Verona last weekend.

Milan says the anti-racism initiative will be launched during Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule ]

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari this month.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, who is South African, says: “Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviors. AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. . We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.