Watford stun sloppy Man United

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Watford picked up just their second win of the Premier League season as Nigel Pearson has lift off as the new Hornets manager.

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They beat Manchester United 2-0 at Vicarage Road on Sunday as David De Gea‘s howler allowed Ismaila Sarr to make it 1-0, then Troy Deeney scored a penalty kick moments later as United imploded.

With the win Watford remain bottom but are now on 12 points and are six points from safety, while United lose further ground in the top four battle after a lackluster display.


3 things we learned

1. United’s final third movement not there: United have now lost five games this season. They’ve lost to Watford, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and West Ham and in all five games they were handed plenty of the ball but didn’t do much with it. Teams know they are dangerous on the counter so why let United play to their strengths? This is a worrying theme for the Red Devils as a lack of movement and creativity in the final third makes them too easy to defend against.

2. Watford make the most of United mistakes: Pearson has a had a huge impact in his two games in charge as Watford looked well-drilled and tough to break down at Liverpool last week and then against Man United. Their two goals were handed to them on a plate, but Ismaila Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu had plenty of cutting edge and there is real hope the Hornets will now stay in the Premier League as they are only six points off safety.

3. Pogba makes a difference: He came on for the final 25 minutes with United 2-0 down and Pogba made a difference on his return from injury. His passing, runs and efforts in and around the box prove that he will have a big part to play in the second half of the season. United have lacked creativity in the final third and Pogba’s return will provide that.

Man of the Match: Ismaila Sarr – Scored one and won a penalty kick, Sarr gave Luke Shaw a torrid time out on the right. The Senegalese winger is really coming into his own in recent weeks.


Anthony Martial had the first big chance of the game as he started a counter but dragged his shot wide of the target after good work from Daniel James.

United had plenty of the ball as Watford sat back and soaked up the pressure and then launched counters, as Luke Shaw brilliantly blocked Troy Deeney’s shot from one breakaway from the Hornets.

Jesse Lingard was then played in and was clean through on goal but his dink over Ben Foster landed on the roof of the net as a glorious chance came and went. Abdoulaye Doucoure then flicked a header just wide as Watford continued to be a threat on the break.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Watford took the lead in bizarre circumstances as Sarr’s weak effort on goal somehow slipped through De Gea’s grasp as the howler from Man United’s star goalkeeper gave the Hornets the lead.

Moments later Wan-Bissaka gave away a penalty kick as he slid in on Sarr and Deeney stepped up to smash home to double Watford’s lead.

Late on Scott McTominay had two efforts for United as Paul Pogba came on to try and spark their attack into life.

Watford looked more likely to grab another goal than United getting back into the game as Gerard Deulofeu and Deeney both had efforts blocked.

United did have a flurry of late chances as Harry Maguire headed in on goal but Foster saved, Pogba then forced Foster into a fine stop, Mason Greenwood lobbed over and Foster then denied Rashford.

Handicapping the Elite Eight of Premier League March Madness

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Everton, stand up.

The Toffees scored the major upset of the first round of our week of Premier League March Madness, eliminating Manchester United to advance to our Elite Eight.

Voting in the quarterfinal round begins Wednesday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League. Our editor JPW said “they have effectively won the NIT,” to which we add, “a very rich NIT!”

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the next four matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Tuesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 9 Arsenal
No. 4 Chelsea v. No. 12 Everton
No. 3 Leicester City v. No. 6 Wolves
No. 2 Man City v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

For what it’s worth, your noted handicapper only scored winning projections on four of the eight pre-quarterfinals.

There were only two significant upsets, which either show the respect voters gave this season’s on-field performance or a vast hatred of Manchester United and Spurs.

Maybe that’s true on the United front, but Arsenal’s power as a sort of sleeping giant bodes well for its match-up with Liverpool. That said, the Reds’ faithful is fired up for this online poll title before the much bigger title to come, and their season will make anyone but Arsenal fans think before voting against them.

Chelsea and Everton is a pretty tasty match-up, too, with both sides proving they can take down loyal and big fan bases. I like Everton to come up with the goods again, carrying a bit more momentum with voters than Chelsea’s easy-enough topping of Newcastle.

Wolves impressed in beating Palace, and a Twitter follower rightly mentioned that they have significant El Tri backing this side of the proverbial pond. Is that enough to knock out Leicester City? It’ll be tight, but we’ll say yes.

Man City should waltz past Sheffield United, but this is the sort of fixture in which both teams have surprised this season. Still, we’ll give it to Pep’s virtual men, just.

Spanish federation: La Liga will play at least every 72 hours upon restart

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When La Liga returns, get ready for it to return with a fury.

The Spanish Football Federation and Spanish Footballers’ Association agreed to a minimum 72-hour gap between matches after La Liga aimed for a minimum of only 48 hours (which, frankly, seems nuts).

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

La Liga president Javier Tebas gave three days between May 28 and June 28 for a possible restart earlier Tuesday, as the return of football in one Europe’s top leagues starts to take shape.

The league and its players reportedly came to terms on a 48-hour gap, but the federation would not stand for that. It seems the players want to get to transfer window quicker, and the league wants a new season worth of revenue to begin as quickly as possible.

There are other concerns for the players, too, given the time of year.

From Marca:

“The Federation thus puts the players’ health above the competition. In addition, during the months of May, June, July and August, it will pay special attention to the hosting of matches in severe heat, solar radiation and humidity which work against the health of the players,” it added.

The report also says that the SFA is unimpressed with FIFA’s idea that contracts will be expanded universally through the end of the season, quoting the players’ group as defending “the individual right of the worker.”

Players had previously rebelled against the idea of government furloughs after talks regarding pay cuts took longer than expected.

As with everything in this COVID-19 pandemic era, the restart is going to take complex navigation. We’re going to have some new temporary concerns as well as a whole lot of “new normals.”

Solskjaer hits out at criticism of players, leagues

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Man United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the Premier League and soccer in general have become an easy target amid the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Man United manager joined our partners at Sky Sports in the UK to discuss life during the nationwide lockdown in the UK and was asked about criticism of clubs and players as talks continue about wage cuts.

“For me football is an easy target sometimes,” Solskjaer said. “For me it’s unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation. Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they’ll make. It’s not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.”

The English game, including Premier League clubs, have been criticized for applying for the UK government’s furlough scheme which will pay staff 80 percent of their current wages.

Liverpool issued an apology and reversed their decision to furlough 200 staff members and Tottenham and Newcastle have been criticized for using the scheme, while players have revealed various views on whether or not the 2019-20 season should be finished or deemed null and void.

Man United have said they will not use the furlough scheme to pay their staff and Solskjaer defended any mistakes that have been made by certain clubs or owners over the past few weeks.

“Mistakes are being made and have been made by loads of people and that’s how we learn as well. Now it’s about making better decisions, good decisions, I think we all want to help the NHS, the communities, and I think it’s important every single club do what they think is right. We’re all good people, and I’m sure we all want this to be over with as soon as possible. For me it’s about following the guidelines from the government as well,” Solskjaer added.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Sweet 16

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Our Premier League March Madness tournament had a thrilling Sweet 16 stage as there were shocks and drubbings aplenty.

With thousands of votes cast, the Elite Eight is set up perfectly as plenty of heavyweights collide on Wednesday.

The standout results in the Sweet 16 were #12 Everton just holding on to shock #5 Man United, while #9 Arsenal edged out their north London rivals #8 Tottenham with 54.86 percent of the vote.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

#3 Leicester City hammered #14 Southampton in the biggest winning margin with a whopping 79.1 percent of the vote, while #1 Liverpool, #2 Man City and #6 Wolves all advanced with #4 Chelsea battling past a valiant effort by #13 Newcastle.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
Tuesday: Sweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct and they pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Here are the full slate of results from our Sweet 16 matches as our Premier League March Madness tournament continues on Wednesday with the Elite Eight!