Watford beat Norwich for first PL win

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Friday night’s win for Watford was sweeter than some victories it’s celebrated in the past.

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In the middle of a difficult start to the 2019-2020 Premier League season, Watford secured its first league victory of the year, beating Norwich, 2-0, on the road. Watford played the last 25 minutes down to ten men after Christian Kabasele was shown a second yellow card, but the Hornets appeared to only improve as the game wore on.

With the win, Watford jumps out of the Premier League basement and over Norwich into 18th place, while Norwich with the defeat sinks into last place in the league, just seven points from 12 games.


3 things we learned

1. Flores has brought defensive mindset back to Watford: Friday’s clean sheet was Watford’s third in its last five Premier League games, and even when it’s given up goals, it’s kept things close, with only three goals allowed in that span and one defeat. Clearly, Quique Sanchez Flores has helped Watford rebound from the 8-0 smashing v. Manchester City and they stand a chance at this rate of surviving for another season in the Premier League.

2. No Pukki, no win: If it wasn’t clear before, now it is. Norwich City is completely Pukki dependent. The Canaries looked woeful in the attack and although Pukki had a couple of chances, he wasn’t able to score. The Flying Fin hasn’t scored since mid-September in Norwich’s 3-2 win over Manchester City, a streak now extended to seven Premier League games

3. Big players make big plays: Watford spent millions of dollars to bring in attacking talents like Deulofeu and Gray, and on Friday at least, they showed they were worth the price. The pair each scored a goal and helped lift a struggling Watford team to a crucial win just before the international break.

Man of the Match: Gerard Deulofeu – The Spaniard slalomed through defenders to put Watford up early and then set up Gray with his goal in the second half to round off a great performance.


Watford needed less than two minutes to get on the scoreboard after a poor error from Norwich midfielder Emiliano Buendia. After Buendia coughed up the ball in midfield, Gerard Deulofeu raced ahead, evaded defenders and eventually finished into the far post end of the goal with his weaker left-foot.

It was the beginning of a back and forth affair with chances at either end. Darryl Janmaat and Deulofeu had chances to increase the lead in the next 20 minutes, but both players put their strikes wide of goal. Meanwhile, Alexander Tetty put a shot just wide and Onel Hernandez had a shot saved after Watford’s Ben Foster raced off his line to cut down the angle.

Early in the second half, it was Watford which went on the ascendency. Deulofeu raced down the left side before delivering in a cross into the middle. Andre Gray, a first half substitute, stuck out a leg and redirected the ball in to put Watford up 2-0 in the 52nd minute.

Kabasele was given his marching orders in the 65th minute, after a strong tackle on Norwich’s Josep Drmic and put Watford down a man. However, the team sat back into a low block with two blocks of defenders, and Norwich had no answer the rest of the match to break them down.

The Canaries lack of big-time players came back to haunt them as Todd Cantwell, Teemu Pukki and Drmic all failed to truly threaten Foster in goal.

USMNT boss Berhalter won’t be fired; USA confident of making World Cup

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USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter is under pressure, but he will not be fired if they lose against Canada or Cuba in the coming days.

Or anytime soon, for that matter.

That is the resounding message of support from USMNT General Manager Earnie Stewart, who spoke to reporters via a conference call on Tuesday and had to answer plenty of questions about the U.S. losing 2-0 at 69th ranked Canada last month.

Stewart batted away speculation about Berhalter’s future, as the USMNT need to win their remaining two CONCACAF Nations League Group A games against Canada in Orlando on Friday and then against Cuba, plus overturn a three-goal deficit on Canada, to reach the finals of the inaugural tournament.

“We’re looking at the future. So when I evaluate Gregg and the staff, what I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man. An individual result is not going to change that,” Stewart said. “I’ve seen that progress, and when you look at these individual results of the Canada away game, no, we weren’t happy. We weren’t happy at all. We have now a moment to rectify that as well. This Friday is about that. We need to perform.”

Stewart then doubled down in his support of Berhalter and this group of players, led by the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and now Sergino Dest, saying he is incredibly confident of reaching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“I have no fear at all that we are not going to qualify for the World Cup. I am very, very confident of that,” Stewart added.

The former USMNT player then revealed he’s felt personally attacked by the USMNT fanbase accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) of nepotism as Jay Berhalter, Gregg’s brother, is high up in USSF and running to becoming the new CEO.

“I am the one making the decisions. All the conspiracy theories out there are very disrespectful to me and to the individuals: to Jay Berhalter, to Gregg Berhalter, myself,” Stewart said. “When people insinuate these things … I’ve worked a little bit too hard to be in the position where I’m in today to actually have people think that.”

Berhalter’s reign has seen mixed results so far, as the USMNT reached the 2019 Gold Cup final but were beaten by Mexico’s B team in the summer.

They were smashed 3-0 by Mexico’s A team in a friendly in September and the lackluster displays have infuriated the USMNT fanbase who have been hurting for over two years since the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Aside from the results, the major issues have been the possession-based style of play not seeming to suit the USMNT player pool, with so many talented youngsters struggling to adapt to what Berhalter wants, plus some player seemingly picked regardless of their performances.

So, Berhalter will stay, for now. But when is the next major flashpoint?

2022 World Cup qualifying starts next summer and if the USMNT get off to a bad start, it will be intriguing to see how Stewart and USSF react.

No matter what Stewart says this is a federation, and coach, under pressure. Let’s see if his team respond.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings see plenty of players remaining in the upper echelons.

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Matchweek 12 was wild, with players from Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City continuing to dominate our top 20. The likes of Ciaran Clark, John Lundstram and Dwight McNeil were so close to cracking the top 20…

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1.  Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – Up 2
2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – Up 2
3. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 2
4. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – Down 2
5. Wilfried Ndidi (Leicester) – New entry
6. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – Up 1
7.  Fabinho (Liverpool) – New entry
8. Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – Down 2
9. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Up 6
10. Willian (Chelsea) – Up 6
11. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) – New entry
12. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 7
13. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Even
14. Youri Tielemans (Leicester) – Even
15. James Maddison (Leicester) – New entry
16. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Down 4
17. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – Up 2
18. Fernandinho (Man City) – New entry
19. Matteo Kovacic (Chelsea) – New entry
20. Richarlison (Everton) – New entry

U.S. teenager Matteo Ritaccio signs pro deal with Liverpool

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Another American making waves at a Premier League giant?

Maybe.

Matteo Ritaccio, who just turned 18 years old, has signed his first professional contract with Liverpool.

The Long Island native has been playing with their U18 academy side since the summer of 2018, as he holds an Italian passport and was therefore able to make the move to Europe from the USA.

Liverpool detailed how they have worked hard to scout and then secure the signature of Ritaccio, a midfielder.

“He had first been spotted by the Reds as a 13-year-old at a training camp for the US national team, though he also holds an Italian passport. A tough-tackling and exciting player, Ritaccio started the season in fine form for the U18s but his momentum was brought to a halt by a leg injury.”

Ritaccio is a product of the famed youth side BW Gottschee and he impressed Liverpool’s coaches with a fast start to the 2019-20 season before injury struck.

He will be back fit early in January and it will be intriguing to see how he develops.

Jurgen Klopp isn’t afraid to throw plenty of youngsters into the side, as he proved during the recent victory over Arsenal in the League Cup.

Remember the name: Matteo Ritaccio.

Everton’s Moise Kean dropped due to discipline issues

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Everton striker Moise Kean was dropped for the 2-1 win at Southampton on Saturday after being late for a team meeting.

Kean, 19, was not in the Toffees squad for their first Premier League away victory since March and Sky Sports in the UK say that was because the Italian international has been having issues with his timekeeping.

Here’s some more information from our partners at Sky Sports News in the UK:

“The former Juventus forward was late for a team meeting and as a result was left out of the squad for the 2-1 Premier League victory at St Mary’s. Sky Sports News understands it is the second time Kean has been late for a team meeting.”

It is believed the player has apologized to Silva and his teammates for being late, but he does have previous, and not just with Everton. Italy boss Roberto Mancini left Kean out of the Azzurri squad in September after he and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo were late for a team meeting at the U21 European Championships in the summer.

Somebody get Kean a new watch, or at least set a few more reminders on his phone!

Kean arrived at Goodison Park for $33 million this summer but has yet to score for the Toffees as Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun have all been preferred to him in the central strikers role.

This is a tough one. Kean is young and adapting to life in a new country, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, but rules are rules and Silva obviously runs a tight ship.