Demarai Gray

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Season Review: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham

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We’re into the top half of the Premier League now, as we continue to review all 20 teams’ campaigns after the 2018-19 season came to a close on Sunday.

[ REVIEW: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Saints ]

The group of clubs that finished between 10th and sixth spans a massive gulf in preseason predictions: from supposed title challengers Manchester United, to newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers.

[ REVIEW: Burnley, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Watford ]

West Ham United

Finishing position/points total: 10th / 52 points
High point: Handing London rivals Tottenham Hotspur their first defeat at their brand new stadium.
Low point
: Losing four straight to start the season, after spending big in the summer transfer window and hiring Manuel Pellegrini.

Our opinion: Given what West Ham have actually achieved this decade, they finished right where they should. Given what they spent last summer, they underachieved. That is almost certainly a product of the constant turnover taking place in east London.
Star player
: Felipe Anderson
Most memorable goal
: Declan Rice‘s first goal for West Ham was a big one: the winner against Arsenal.

Manager grade: Manuel Pellegrini: C
Hopes for next season
: As ever, West Ham fans will be dreaming of cracking the top-six, as unrealistic and difficult as that is. More realistically, they should be battling Everton and Wolves for the title of “best of the rest.”


Leicester City

Finishing position/points total: 9th / 52 points
High point: Winning five of their first six games after Brendan Rodgers was named new manager in late February.
Low point
: Six games without a win (five losses) to begin 2019. Claude Puel didn’t survive the skid.

Our opinion: Right around mid-table is where Leicester should aim to be season after season. Only to nitpick, to do so without the gigantic swings between highs and lows (15 wins and 16 losses, with just 7 draws) should be the attainable target moving forward.
Star player
: Youri Tielemans
Most memorable goal
: Demarai Gray scored perhaps the most emotional game of the PL season: Leicester’s first, and the winner against Cardiff City, following the tragic death of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Manager grade: Brendan Rodgers: Incomplete
Hopes for next season
: If Rodgers views Leicester as a long-term project for himself, he should look to continue the youth movement currently taking place at the King Power Stadium and build a squad that could push for top-six on their best day a year or two down the road.


Everton

Finishing position/points total: 8th / 54 points
High point: Beating Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal in successive games, without conceding a single goal in the process (March 17 to April 7).
Low point
: Losing to Liverpool, on that goal.

Our opinion: Marco Silva is clearly the most talented and ambitious manager Everton have had in a long time, and that’ll show through even more so after a second summer of transfers to build a squad that better fits his style (e.g., younger, more mobile defenders).
Star player
: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Most memorable goal
: Sigurdsson’s long-range was the pick of the litter in the Toffees’ 4-0 rout of Man United.

Manager grade: Marco Silva: B-
Hopes for next season
: Of all the sides in the top-10, Everton are probably best positioned to mount a challenge on the top-six, given not only the talent up and down their squad, but also the experience at very high levels in the game. Most likely, though, they’ll be seventh or eighth again.


Wolverhampton Wanderers

Finishing position/points total: 7th / 57 points
High point: Other than being back in the PL? How about wins over Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, all in your first season back in the PL? No wonder Wolves landed seventh.
Low point
: Huddersfield Town finished bottom of the league — with just 16 points, 10 adrift of 19th place. Six of those 16 points (37.5 percent) came against Wolves, as they did the double over Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side.

Our opinion: Wolves were one of the PL’s most active and aggressive clubs during last summer’s transfer window; they also happened to be some of the best buyers, as Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, Joao Moutinho and Jonny were rock-solid figures in the first team. That’s a very strong foundation upon which to build.
Star player
: Raul Jimenez
Most memorable goal
: Jimenez’s outside-the-foot cross to Jota, and Jota’s ball back to Jimenez for the finish, was the clincher against Cardiff and delightful to watch.

Manager grade: Nuno Espirito Santo: A
Hopes for next season
: Should they wind up in the Europa League next season (Manchester City would have to beat Watford in the FA Cup final), Wolves will have multiple rounds of qualify to wade through before even reaching the group stage. They would be best suited not having to deal with such a fixture list.


Manchester United

Finishing position/points total: 6th / 66 points
High point
: The lengthy honeymoon period (12 games unbeaten, including 10 wins) for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s interim appointment after Jose Mourinho was fired.
Low point
: The remainder of the season cratering (just two wins from their final eight games, including four defeats) after Solskjaer was named permanent manager on March 28.

Our opinion: This is a club in desperate need of a massive overhaul, from top to bottom: perhaps beginning with the owners, to the club executives, to the technical decision makers, perhaps the manager as well, and the first-team squad.
Star player
: Marcus Rashford
Most memorable goal
: Another goal conceded by Cardiff. Anthony Martial and Co., kicked off the Solskjaer era in dazzling fashion.

Manager grade: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: C
Hopes for next season
: Let’s say Man United hit on every one of their signings this summer — we’re guessing $200 million’s worth of them — which includes a new backline, a deep-lying midfielder, an attacking midfielder and at least one winger. They could finish in the top-four.

Vardy leads Leicester’s rout of Huddersfield (video)

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  • Leicester have won 5 of last 6
  • Vardy has 7 goals in last 6 games
  • Huddersfield lose fifth-straight game

Leicester City beat Huddersfield Town 4-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday, as the Foxes continue their revival under Brendan Rodgers with four wins on the spin.

The Foxes went ahead through Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy doubled the lead, and although Huddersfield pulled a goal back through Aaron Mooy‘s penalty kick, James Maddison scored a beautiful free kick and then

With the victory the Foxes move in to seventh place on 47 points, while Huddersfield remain bottom on 14 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leicester started the game well as Harvey Barnes whipped in a dangerous cross which just evaded the onrushing James Maddison.

The Foxes took a deserved lead after a corner saw two efforts blocked, then Tielemans struck a shot from the edge of the box which found the net with Ben Hamer unsighted.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Maddison had another great chance before half time as he was set free on goal but the youngster dragged his effort wide.

The best chance Huddersfield had was via Jon Stankovic, who drilled a shot just wide of the far post. But then Ben Chilwell fired over and Demarai Gray raced clear before the break but Hamer saved superbly to deny Leicester a second. Hamer then clawed away a cross from Vardy which threatened to loop in.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Huddersfield started the second half well as Karlan Grant looked certain to score but Kasper Schmeichel saved his header. But Leicester doubled their lead right away as Ricardo Perreira sent in a perfect cross which Vardy tapped home at the back post, although the English striker looked to be slightly offside.

However, Huddersfield were handed a penalty kick as Caglar Soyuncu slipped and then Grant nipped in just ahead of him. It didn’t look like a penalty, but it was awarded and Mooy slotted home calmly to make it 2-1.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Leicester were denied by former goalkeeper Hamer again as Barnes’ audacious backheel found Maddison who was denied.

Schmeichel pulled off a great low save to deny Steve Mounie an equalizer, as Huddersfield pushed hard late on but Leicester sealed the win in style.

Maddison curled a free kick around the wall to make it 3-1, then Vardy won and scored a penalty to make it 4-1, as the Foxes continue their charge up the table.

10-man Leicester snatch late win at Burnley (video)

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  • Morgan scores stoppage time winner
  • Maguire sent off in 4th minute
  • Burnley lost fourth-straight game

Leicester City secured a battling victory at Burnley on Saturday, as Brendan Rodgers‘ side scored a stoppage-time winner after being reduced to 10-men in the fourth minute of the game.

Harry Maguire was sent off with less than four minutes on the clock, but James Maddison put Leicester ahead with a free kick.

Dwight McNeil scored a superb goal to equalize for Burnley but Wes Morgan popped up with a goal in second half stoppage time as Sean Dyche‘s were stunned.

The win for Rodgers’ side moves them into 10th place on 41 points, while Burnley remain just one place and two points above the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was the worst possible start for Leicester as Maguire, who was last man, clipped the heels of Gudmundsson, who was clean through on goal and was shown a straight-red card. Morgan was brought on as a sub as Demarai Gray was sacrificed to keep Leicester to four at the back.

Leicester’s backs were against the wall, as Gudmundsson’s effort from the resulting free kick deflected off the wall and hit the bar.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Despite having an extra man, Burnley sat back and tried to hit Leicester on the counter. Wilfred Ndidi made a superb last-ditch tackle to keep Burnley out on one such attack.

The Foxes dug deep and caused problems as Harvey Barnes drilled wide and they were a real threat from set-piece situations. And that is how they went ahead. Maddison won a free kick on the edge of the box and he then stepped up and curled home a superb effort into the top corner. 1-0.

Vardy stung the palms of Tom Heaton before half time as Leicester were in the ascendancy, but then Burnley hit them on the break as teenager McNeil swept home from the edge of the box to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half Vardy was lively, as always, on the counter, but Burnley went so close to going ahead for the first time. Jack Cork was found in the box but his curler went just wide as the Clarets cranked through the gears.

Chris Wood then somehow sidefooted over from close range after a superb cross from McNeil and Burnley felt they should have had a couple of penalty kicks late on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Charlie Taylor went down in the box under a challenge from Ndidi but Michael Oliver waved played on and then handball calls against Wes Morgan were waved away as Peter Crouch made a nuisance of himself in the box.

McNeil hooked over the bar late on as Burnley poured forward in search of a crucial winner, but Leicester were the team to snatch victory.

Youri Tieleman’s deflected cross found Morgan, who nodded home in stoppage time to snatch a massive three points for the Foxes.

Leicester City wins as new manager Rodgers looks on (video)

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  • Vardy scores 9th of season
  • Gray instrumental for Foxes
  • Leicester fired Puel earlier this week

Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy scored as Leicester City topped Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Tuesday at the King Power Stadium.

New manager Brendan Rodgers was in the stands for the win, which saw the Foxes pull to within five points of seventh place Wolves and Watford.

Brighton is just three points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Gray’s goal came after 10 minutes, with Wilfried Ndidi winning possession for Leicester and sending Youri Tielemans on his way to setting up the opener.

It could’ve been 2-0 in short order had Mat Ryan not made a nice save on Gray.

That seemingly snapped Brighton to life, and Pascal Gross‘ deflected offering made Kasper Schmeichel react quickly to keep Leicester in front.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League box scores, stats ]

Leicester doubled its lead through Vardy, who likely will have reveled in returning to the score sheet following his tumultuous relationship with the fired Claude Puel.

This was very much a team goal, with Tielemans, Ricardo Pereira, and James Maddison all part of the build-up.

That’s when Brighton pulled a goal back through Davy Propper, his first Premier League marker coming when he took a touch off a deflected cross and beat Schmeichel.

Lewis Dunk wasn’t too far from equalizing with a header, but Leicester held onto its lead as the match reached its final quarter hour.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Wolves edge Leicester, win seven-goal thriller (video)

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  • Jota, Bennett score early, Wolves led 2-0
  • Leicester fought back to make it 2-2
  • Jota made it 3-2, then Morgan equalized late on
  • Jota seals hat trick in stoppage time
  • Leicester suffer fourth-straight defeat in all competitions

Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Leicester City 4-3 in a classic Premier League encounter Saturday, as the game flowed back and forth in a thrilling encounter at Molinuex.

Diogo Jota and Ryan Bennett scored to put Wolves 2-0 up early, but Leicester fought back at the start of the second half with a Demarai Gray striker and an own goal from Conor Coady. Jota popped up to make it 3-2 in a pulsating, end-to-end clash which both teams couldn’t control. Wes Morgan popped up to head home a late equalizer for Leicester, but then Jota struck in stoppage time to seal an incredible win.

With the win Wolves move up to eighth place on 32 points and leapfrog Leicester, who remain on 31 points. Foxes boss Claude Puel is certainly under pressure as his team suffered their fourth-straight defeat in all competitions.

Nuno Espirito Santo was sent off in stoppage time for running on the pitch and celebrating with his players, but the Portuguese coach will not care as Wolves’ European dreams remain alive.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves came flying out of the traps as Nampalys Mendy picked up an early booking and the Foxes couldn’t recover. First Kasper Schmeichel denied Ruben Neves with a fantastic save, then Jota gave Wolves the lead as he prodded home Joao Moutinho‘s perfect cross. 1-0.

At the other end Leicester almost hit back right away as Rui Patricio dallied on the ball and Jamie Vardy nipped in to steal it, but Wolves’ goalkeeper recovered to save and the hosts eventually cleared.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The game failed to calm down as Wolves then scored a second from a corner. Moutinho whipped in the set piece to the back post and Bennett towered above Harry Maguire to nod home a second for Wolves and leave Puel fuming on the sidelines.

Leicester tried to battle their way back into the game as Patricio pushed away Demarai Gray’s effort, saved another from Gray and Ricardo Pereira dragged as shot wide. At the other end Jota came close to finishing off Jimenez’s superb cross but Schmeichel saved, and Jimenez was then denied as Wolves ended the first half as they started it. Well on top.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Right at the start of the second half Leicester were back in the game as Gray dances through the Wolves defense and finished to make it 2-1, and moments later Barnes smashed an effort on goal which Patricio pushed over.

Barnes played a big hand in making it 2-2, as a mix-up in the box saw the ball drop kindly to him and the 21-year-old smashed home, via a deflection off Coady, what he thought was his first Premier League goal on his first start (the goal later went down as a Coady own goal) to spark wild celebrations among the Leicester fans. Game on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Wolves went back ahead midway through the second half as Neves played a beautiful ball over the top and Jota drilled a low shot home to make it 3-2.

Substitute James Maddison missed a glorious chance to level things, but he then whipped in a wonderful cross for Morgan to head home an equalizer late on. But the drama wasn’t done. A mistake from Leicester allowed Jimenez to tee up Jota and he completed his hat trick to make it 4-3 and hand Wolves a dramatic late victory as Nuno Espirito Santo ran on the pitch in jubilation.

That goal capped off an instant Premier League classic rather nicely.