Daryl Janmaat

Getty Images

PL Sunday preview: Wolves, Man United, Everton, Arsenal in action

Leave a comment

Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures promise to have a wide-range of action, as Wolves, Manchester United and Arsenal all take the field.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Norwich City  — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Gold and NBCSports.com

Wolverhampton Wanderers are heading into Sunday’s match against bottom dwellers Norwich City with fresh, positive inertia.

On Thursday, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men thumped Espanyol 4-0 in the knockout stages of the Europa League, giving Wolves a much-needed boost of confidence. The club, who has yet to win in Premier League play since January 18, ended a two-game streak without generating a goal against the Spanish side.

Wolves are the clear favorites heading into Molineux Stadium on Sunday. But on the other side stands a well-rested and hungry Norwich, who before going to winter break, showcased class and discipline against Liverpool in their last league showing.

Daniel Farke‘s side are eight points out of the safe zone but time is running out. The sense of urgency is at an all-season high for the Canaries, believers of their under-appreciated strengths.

“They (Wolves) are playing in Europe, they have kept three clean sheets, they have individual quality and it is a huge task,” Farke said. “But I don’t see any easy fixtures at this stage. It is about us. We always have a chance if we are good at our topics.

“People can write us off and say we have no chance to close the gap. But I don’t agree. It is possible.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Ruben Vinagre (hamstring) | Norwich — OUT: Timm Klose (knee), Sam Byram (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Watford — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

History and data say Watford, who have never won a league game at Old Trafford, stand no chance against Manchester United on Sunday.

But if one victory inspired a mostly-lethargic Hornets this season under Nigel Pearson it was the 2-0 win over United at Vicarage Road. The second-to-last side went on a six-match unbeaten streak following the said victory. It brought the club back to life, lifting them out of the bottom three.

Watford have since faltered and dropped back below the red line, but Pearson promises to stick to his philosophical guns.

“We approach every game in a very similar way and that is to try and be as positive as we can,” he said. “We’ll go out there and we’ll do what we can to win the game, we’ve not changed our approach, it’s just that results sometimes change how people perceive things.”

United will certainly look different, as Odion Ighalo is expected to make his home debut against his former club following his arrival in earlier this month.

United, who stand in the seventh spot with 38 points, have a clear window of opportunity to surpass fifth-place Tottenham with a victory. Prior to Sunday’s match, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addressed questions regarding consistency.

“It is team selection – you’ve got to maybe rotate in Europe like we’ve done, then maybe go back to what we were at Chelsea this week,” Gunnar Solskjaer said. “I feel that Bruno [Fernandes] and Odion [Ighalo] coming in will get more goals in the team. That’s been lacking. The games we’ve lost – West Ham, Burnley, Palace, Bournemouth – we’ve had chances but we haven’t scored goals.”

Perhaps Ighalo could finally contribute towards a win at Old Trafford with Watford jerseys on the field.

INJURIES: Manchester United — Paul Pogba (ankle), Axel Tuanzebe (thigh), Marcus Rashford (back) | Watford — OUT: Daryl Janmaat (knee), Tom Cleverley (match fitness)

Arsenal vs. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Subplots reign supreme ahead of Everton’s visit to the Emirates.

Mesut Ozil, who missed the Gunners’ 1-0 Europa League victory, and Andres Gomes, 16 weeks after an ankle dislocation and fracture, are both expected to return to action. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta and Carlo Ancelotti will meet for the first time after being linked to each other’s position before the start of the new year.

Perhaps the most significant one, however – at least to Everton – is that it’s been 24 years since the Toffees won at Arsenal. If they can pull it off this time around, the Liverpool-based side will be one step closer to the European dream.

“We have to be focused on Arsenal,” Ancelotti said. “Then there are very important games after. There’s [Manchester] United, Chelsea, Liverpool. After these four games, we can see what is going on for Europe.”

“This is a really important game against a strong team, away, but we have to have confidence to do our best and try to win. We’ve got 13 games to go and have got ourselves in a decent position,” he said. “It gives us the platform to have a decent season. I think we’ve done okay. We’ve had huge problems over six weeks and fair play to the squad for showing that resilience.”

Everton have picked up 17 points out the 24 possible under the Italian, while Arsenal have only experienced two wins under the Spaniard.

INJURIES: Arsenal — Cedric Soares (knee), Kieren Tierney (shoulder), Callum Chambers (knee), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (knee) | Everton — OUT: Jean-Phillipe Gbamin (thigh)

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. Watford

Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Southampton sit in 19th place, with nine points
  • Watford is right behind the Saints, in dead-last with eight points
  • Southampton has still not won at home this season
  • While Watford has already replaced its manager, Southampton has still held onto Ralph Hassenhuttl. 

It’s a proverbial relegation six-pointer as Southampton hosts Watford in a match broadcast live over the air across the U.S. (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

The Saints have fared somewhat better – all in all – since the 9-0 thrashing to Leicester City at home, and arguably should have picked up a crucial three points at Arsenal last week. However, Ralph Hassenhuttl desperately needs three points on Saturday with Watford coming to town.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

On November 8, Watford picked up on its first Premier League win (2-0 over Norwich City) under Quique Sanchez Flores since he returned to the club in September and could jump over Southampton in the standings with a road win. History isn’t necessarily on either team’s side heading into this encounter. Both teams have finished with a 1-1 draw in the last three matches between these two teams, with Watford coming back to tie the game in all of them.

Sanchez Flores has also had to deflect reports in the media that he could be sacked again by the Pozzo family, which owns Watford, since the team has barely improved since he took charge. Should Watford lose again, his fate could be decided on Monday morning.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: OUT – Stuart Armstrong (hamstring); DOUBTFUL – Sofiane Boufal (toe); PROBABLE – Jannik Vestergaard (illness)

Watford: OUT – Craig Dawson (head), Christian Kabasele (hamstring), Daryl Janmaat (knee), Tom Cleverley (heel), Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Sebastian Prodl (knee); DOUBTFUL – Roberto Pereyra, Daniel Bachmann (both hamstring), Domingos Quina (groin)


Projected lineups

Southampton: McCarthy – Soares, Stephens, Bednarik, Bertrand – Valery, Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Redmond – Ings, Long

Watford: Foster – Femenia, Mariappa, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas – Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure – Sarr, Gray, Deulofeu


What they’re saying

Ralph Hassenhuttl on what Southampton took from its 2-2 draw: “Every game in the Premier League is a tough one. You have to put everything on the pitch to get something and this is what we know and it’s good now that we have found back a little bit of self-confidence. This is very important for us and that gives us a lift, absolutely, and we need this lift that we can put it on the pitch from the first moment on, that we can invest a little bit for the fans and for the crowd, and they help us then – creating chances, showing that we are on the front foot and then we need the crowd to support us, because we must turn the table at home.”

Sanchez Flores on a 6-point match against Southampton: “It could be [a turning point], for us it’s a long time saying it’s finals and finals and finals. We are preparing finals but when you play finals I know what it means. When you prepare finals you need to reduce mistakes. We know they are dangerous, they have very quick players, good players in the midfield, strong defenders. But we have our players too, we have things we want to do. It should be even, like every single match in the Premier League.”


Prediction

Both teams desperately need a win. So of course, they’ll find a way to draw. In the breezy south coast of England, long balls will go wayward and the team which can move the ball on the ground best will control the match. Ultimately, neither team has proven it is good enough to win this match, but Saturday can be a chance to turn it all around.

Southampton 1-1 Watford

Pulisic Watch: His moments from Chelsea’s 5th-straight win

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christian Pulisic followed up his Premier League hat trick with another goal and some fine dribbling numbers (4-for-4) over 83 minutes of a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Chelsea has now won five-straight league matches and sits third in the PL with 23 points.

15th minute: Mostly relegated to runs off the ball aside from a final third back heel flick, Pulisic is caught in possession and Watford springs a proper counter attack to end with a Caballero save.

19th minute: Heads Willian‘s corner toward the back post, but Ben Foster leaps backward to make a fantastic fingertip save.

35th minute: Combines with Willian en route to winning a corner.

Halftime: A quiet enough half in terms of danger — aside from the header — ends with Pulisic registering 32 touches, 86 percent passes, a tackle, and 5 of 7 duels won.

49th minute: Sees one-touch pass blocked to Deulofeu, but hustles back to win ball back deep in final third.

54th minute: Slips Mount toward the end line but it’s a bit too long and goes out of play. Then takes layoff from Mount which is a step behind him and has the ball taken off him.

55th minute: GOOOOOOAAAL

58th minute: Played down the left side, Pulisic take two touches to get Christian Kabasele to commit before his drive across goal is denied place inside the far post by Foster.

70th minute: Pulisic tricks Daryl Janmaat, and the Dutch fullback is shown a yellow card for his choice.

83rd minute: Watford having pulled a goal back, Pulisic is withdrawn for Callum Hudson-Odoi to decent applause from the visiting fans and a pat on the head from Frank Lampard.

Final stat line: 83 minutes, 1 goal, 66 touches, 85 percent passing, 3 shots on target, 4-for-4 successful dribbles, 8 of 11 duels won, 2 aerials won, 1 tackle, 1 drawn foul. Arguably a MOTM line.

Fortunate Spurs take point from woeful day v. winless Watford

Leave a comment

Watford can’t buy a break, drawing lackluster Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 in North London on Saturday.

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first half goal looked like it would be all Watford needed to collect its first win of the year, but Dele Alli poked home after a late Watford mix-up.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs’ 12 points have them seventh, while Watford stays winless in taking its fourth point.


Three things we learned

1. Rudderless Spurs get gift for Dele: Take away Heung-Min Son‘s early second half rip off the bar, and Tottenham did nothing. However, a massive 86th minute mix-up for Watford’s back line opened the gates for Dele Alli to poke home an equalizer. VAR said he didn’t handle the ball, and Spurs had their path to a point. Can the fortunate finish help Dele refind his form?

2. Deulofeu active, defied by VAR: The ex-Barcelona prodigy was everywhere for Watford and should’ve earned a penalty in the first half, where we learned that VAR is not going to overrule a referee anything unless there’s blood or a visible broken bone in the box. There would’ve been no chance of an overturning had it been ruled a penalty on the field.

3. Son important for Spurs: While much of Tottenham’s team has looked out of sorts this season, South Korea’s Heung-min Son continues to produce (sometimes in solo fashion). He rattled a second half shot off the bar to help shake the cobwebs from Spurs, and his dribbles showed an energy not present in many of his teammates. It’d be fair to say he kept his team alive long enough for a moment like Dele’s fortunate finish.

Man of the Match: Dele Alli — It was a day for a bit of redemption, as the struggling playmaker got his goal and was dangerous despite very little help. Son was good, but Harry Kane and Lucas Moura were among those to toss up the shoulder shrug emoji for most of the day.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

An early injury to Danny Welbeck could’ve lowered the morale for the visitors, but the defiant Hornets went ahead in too easy fashion.

Spurs back Danny Rose lost his way tracking a long diagonal ball, and Doucoure waltzed behind the back line to collect a Daryl Janmaat cross that swept around no less than three Tottenham players. Nice looking goal, pitiful defending.

Jan Vertonghen‘s sloppy slide then clipped Gerard Deulofeu, but VAR would not deem the decision a clear and obvious error.

Heung-min Son struck and inspired move out of halftime, working Craig Cathcart to rip a shot that Ben Foster just touched onto the cross bar in the 49th.

At the other end, Deulofeu found Roberto Pereyra, but the Serge Aurier made a supreme intervention to block the shot.

Spurs had so few answers on the day, with Deulofeu remaining a menace, but that mix-up at the back allowed Dele to pounce for a point.

PL AT HALF: Spurs trail at home; Brighton down a man

Leave a comment

Six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs are at the break in England, with Tottenham and Leicester losing at home.

Tottenham 0-1 Watford – NBCSN [STREAM]

Miserable defending from Spurs saw Abdoulaye Doucoure walk onto a Daryl Janmaat cross for an easy goal. Danny Welbeck has been injured for the Hornets.

Aston Villa 1-1 Brighton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Adam Webster‘s stock continues to rise as he did to pound a Pascal Gross free kick into the goal, but Villa leveled the score through Jack Grealish.

Leicester 1-1  BurnleyNBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Chris Wood is a unit, and if we tell you he scored you can probably guess the style of goal. Jamie Vardy answered the bell with a goal off a Harvey Barnes pass before halftime.

Wolves 0-0  Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Raul Jimenez saw a goal ruled off for a handball, but found the opener before halftime. WAIT! That one was taken off the board as well!

Bournemouth 0-0 Norwich  – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Cherries dominating the chances but yet to lay down a marker.

Chelsea 0-0 Newcastle – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Allan Saint-Maximin producing chances at both ends, but finishers not finishing.