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Preview and Prediction: 4 Premier League sides meet in FA Cup semifinals

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Four Premier League sides are all that remain in the FA Cup as the semifinals get under way Saturday and Sunday.

Manchester City meets Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, with Watford v. Wolverhampton to contest the second meeting a day later. The winners of both matches will meet in the final at Wembley Stadium on May 18.

The first match up features Pep Guardiola looking to keep his side in the running for the unprecedented quadruple. In addition to the FA Cup still in play, City has already won the League Cup, trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by two points with a game in hand, and begin Champions League quarterfinals against Tottenham midweek.

For Brighton, the Seagulls have been to one Cup final in the club’s history, back in 1983 when they reached the FA Cup final, losing to Manchester United at Wembley. They fell 2-0 to Manchester City in this season’s only meeting so far, way back in late September in the midst of Man City’s incredible start to the season.

To make matters even more daunting for Brighton, they will have to contend with a near-fully fit Manchester City squad. Other than long-term injuries to Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy, the only injuries for City is a knock to Fabian Delph and a new hamstring injury for Olkesandr Zinchenko. Sergio Aguero is back from his slight knock, but might not start the match.

Prediction: While Brighton is a much different side from when these two teams met back in September, Manchester City is not. They are still as dominant as ever, and the healthy squad has enough players to rotate through the four competitions and still maintain its edge. City wins 3-0.

On Sunday, Watford meets Wolverhampton Wanderers for the second time this season, with the first meeting also back in the fall. Watford won 2-0 in a game that began Wolves’ ugly six-game slide. Wolves will head to Vicarage Road a very different team than on that October day, fighting for a Europa League position and having stunned Manchester United twice over the last few weeks.

Starting Sunday, these two teams will be seeing enough of each other over the final few weeks of the campaign. While they still have a Premier League fixture remaining as well, they’re both battling hard for a Europa League position, separated by just a single point in the table. Winning the FA Cup would go a long way towards easing that burden, but should neither make it, the battle to the finish line will be bitter, and this meeting could be the warm up for that game on April 27 back here at Vicarage Road yet again.

Wolves brings a squad with them that won’t be phased by the bright lights, with the internationally experienced Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio leading the way along with stars Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota who have Champions League games under their belts. They also have a completely clean bill of health, a valuable asset heading into a pressure-filled run-in to the season. Watford will be without Tom Cleverley due to a hamstring injury, while Roberto Pereyra is a game-time decision after coming off against Fulham.

It’s been a while for both these clubs, with Watford last reaching Wembley in this competition in 1984, their only time having done so. Wolves last made an FA Cup final 1960, and they’ve lost four in a row at this stage.

Prediction: This is a fascinating matchup between two equally talented teams. Wolves has the experience advantage, but Watford is at home. This one goes to penalties after a 1-1 draw, and Wolves keeps its cool and comes out on top in the shootout.

Wolves officially completes record permanent signing of Jimenez

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Wolverhampton Wanderers smashed the club transfer record to pieces by officially announcing the permanent capture of Benfica loanee Raul Jimenez, one of the breakout players of the Premier League season.

The club teased the signing on Wednesday with a tweet, and confirmed the deal Thursday morning. While the official release did not confirm a monetary figure on the deal – somewhat rare for record signings – reports suggest the figure is between $39 million and $42 million, blasting the old transfer record set last summer by signing Adama Traore for $23.6 million.

Jimenez has been a critical figure to Wolves’ surprisingly successful return to the Premier League. After joining in the summer on loan from Benfica following Wolves’ promotion via the Championship crown, Jimenez has been involved in 48% of the club’s Premier League goals this season – the highest in the league – scoring 12 and assisting seven more. He has appeared in every Premier League match for Wolves this season and has started all but two, earning a 2,594 minutes out of a possible 2,970 so far.

“The impact Raul has made during his short time at the club has been fantastic and we’re delighted that he’ll be part of the club’s long-term future,” said Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell in the official club release. “From the second he walked through the door, he settled straight into the group, and that reflects in his performance, with Raul providing assists and overall selfless performances, as well as obviously goals.”

After completing the deal, Jimenez has signed a four-year contract at Wolves which will keep him at Monlieux through the summer of 2023.

“It’s a great honour for me to now be a permanent member of the team. I’m very happy for this permanent deal as I feel that being at Wolves suits me,” Jimenez said in the official release. “I’ve enjoyed my time here, I enjoy playing in the pitch and, along with all my team-mates, we try our best in all the matches to win. Since I’ve arrived here it’s all been so good. We’ve had some good moments, some bad moments; but the best ones have been so good and I’m very happy for that.”

Jimenez has quickly emerged as a key member of the spine of Wolves this season. He has molded a devastating partnership with Diogo Jota up front, and along with 22-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves, the three have become the face of a dangerous Premier League club. While fellow promoted side Fulham spent big this summer to no avail, officially relegated this past weekend, Wolves has risen to seventh in the Premier League table with shrewd targeted spending. They have earned wins in league play over Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham this season, plus draws against Manchester City and Arsenal.

While Jimenez was not a key contributor during Mexico’s stay in the 2018 World Cup, he has earned a more significant role with his performance in the Premier League this season. He has started in four of the eight friendlies since the end of the World Cup, scoring three goals, including one this past international break in a 3-1 win over Chile.

Wolves confirmed that the transfer fee paid to Benfica was pre-set at the beginning of the season, an option to purchase in his loan deal triggered by the Premier League club. Considering Jimenez was not a regular for Benfica last season – appearing 33 times in league play but 28 of those off the bench – the financial haul for the Portuguese club is a significant one.

Wolves top 10-man Man Utd (video)

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  • United remains fifth in Premier League
  • Wolves a point ahead of 8th place Watford
  • McTominay scores first PL goal
  • United out-attempts Wolves 18-9 in loss

Ashley Young was sent off and Chris Smalling scored an own goal as 10-man Manchester United blew an early lead and lost 2-1 to Wolves at the Molineux Stadium on Tuesday.

Diogo Jota scored for Wolves, who remain in control of the race for 7th place and a potential spot in the Europa League.

Wolves continue its season control of United after drawing them at Old Trafford and knocking the Red Devils out of the FA Cup.

Scott McTominay scored his first Premier League goal in the loss, as United is level on points with fourth place Spurs. Tottenham plays Wednesday at home versus Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Romelu Lukaku pounded a header right at well-stationed Rui Patricio off a strong 5th minute opportunity.

McTominay delivered on United’s early promise, taking a square ball from Fred about 22 yards from goal and dragging a low shot across Patricio and inside the far post.

Patricio made a fine save to deny Lingard’s header of a chipped Lukaku cross in the 17th.

Wolves wouldn’t trail for long, unlocking United through the magnificent Jimenez’s pass to Jota and a fine finish.

Leander Dendoncker popped an unchallenged shot over the bar in the 31st as Wolves bid for their first lead of the night.

Lukaku and Paul Pogba combined well, the Frenchman using a faked shot to slip the Belgian to about 8 yards out. Lukaku dragged his effort wide of the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Patricio made an outstanding save on McTominay in the 55th, keeping the deadlock in tact.

Ashley Young was sent off by Mike Dean in the 57th minute when he hit Jota with a studs-up tackle and picked up his second yellow card in less than five minutes.

It was a milestone moment.

Wolves then went ahead when Phil Jones headed a ball off Jimenez’s legs, and David De Gea couldn’t find it before Chris Smalling punched it across his own goal line.

McTominay had another low drive pushed out for a corner kick in the 78th, but it was Wolves who repeatedly missed chances to score including Ivan Cavaleiro‘s stoppage time rip off the bar.

Burnley grab crucial win against Wolves (video)

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  • Burnley end run of four-straight defeats
  • Dyche’s 300th game in charge at Burnley
  • Wolves’ first loss in three

Burnley secured a huge win in their battle against Premier League relegation, as they upset high-flying Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

An early Conor Coady own goal set them on their way and Sean Dyche‘s side struck late on through teenager Dwight McNeil to grab a valuable three points.

With the win Burnley now have 33 points and sit five points above the relegation zone. Wolves remain on 44 points in seventh.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Burnley took the lead within the first two minutes as a quick free kick from Dwight McNeil caught out the Wolves defense and found Chris Wood.

He rounded Rui Patricio and his shot hit the post, but Coady slid in and deflected the ball into his own net. 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Phil Bardsley went close with a low effort, while at the other end Wolves wanted a penalty kick as Romain Saiss‘ shot was blocked by Ashley Barnes‘ arm.

Not a great half from Wolves, as they were missing Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Wolves did improve after the break, as Diogo Jota curled a cross into the box which just went past the far post and then Ivan Cavaleiro smashed over from the edge of the box.

Adama Traore was causing plenty of problems down the right flank as Doherty and Jimenez came on to try and force a late equalizer.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But just as Wolves looked more likely to score next, McNeil broke and jinxed past a few tackles before he smashed a low short into the net to make it 2-0.

A massive win for Burnley in their battle against relegation.

Top 12 signings of 2018-19 Premier League season

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As we enter the final seven weeks of the Premier League season, now seems like a good time to focus on which players have stood out at their new clubs.

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From new star strikers to game-changing playmakers and much-needed defensive additions, a lot of clubs were extremely shrewd in the transfer market last summer.

Below we rank the top 12 signings of the season across the PL based on their performance so far.


1. Raul Jimenez (Wolves, on loan from Benfica) – The Mexican striker is Wolves’ top scorer and has them in seventh in the PL and in the FA Cup semis. Wolves are probably the best-ever newly-promoted team in PL history and his hold-up play, finishing and ability to run in behind and link-up with Diogo Jota is a big part of that. Now, they must try to sign him permanently. That is the hard part as clubs all over Europe are now chasing him after a wonderful debut campaign in the PL.


2. David Brooks (Bournemouth from Sheffield United, $15.2 million) – This was an absolute bargain. Brooks, 21, has shone in the top-flight and surprised everyone, including himself, at how well he has adapted. In his first PL season he has brought pace and trickery and he’s complemented Bournemouth’s other forwards perfectly. The Welsh winger has a bright future.


3. Joao Moutinho (Wolves from AS Monaco, $6.6 million) – The man who makes Wolves tick, the experienced Portuguese midfielder has oozed class and his set-piece deliveries cause all kinds of problems. Alongside Ruben Neves he just keeps chipping away, keeps the ball effortlessly and his range of passing is sublime. A real unsung hero. And a bargain.


4. Sokratis (Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund, $23.4 million) – After a bit of a shaky start, he’s come into his own in recent months and is one of the first names on Arsenal’s teamsheet. The towering Greek defender is a real character and is making the defenders around him better. A proper no-nonsense center half, Sokratis is becoming a cult hero at Arsenal and is a big reason they are in the top four.


5. Richarlison (Everton from Watford, $53 million) – It was big money for a Brazilian youngster who had just one season in the PL under his belt, but it was money well spent by Marco Silva. Richarlison, 21, has been called up to the full Brazil team and has scored 13 goals in his debut season at Everton. His pace has been crucial for the Toffees and although he’s played up front a lot on his own, out wide is where he is at his best.


6. Salomon Rondon (Newcastle, on loan from West Brom) – The big Venezuelan striker has been a revelation for the Magpies as Rafael Benitez has built his entire attack around Rondon. Able to hold the ball up and finish off plentiful crosses into the box, Rondon is perfectly suited for this Newcastle side. He gets the best out of the attackers around him, and his goal return of 10 is pretty decent for a team which has struggled at the bottom for most of this season. You’d think Newcastle will sign Rondon permanently this summer, but he does have one more year left on his contract at West Brom.


7. Lucas Torreira (Arsenal from Sampdoria, $33 million) – A huge signing for Arsenal, as Torreira has added extra bite to the Gunners midfield. After a wonderful start to life in England he has been a little subdued in recent weeks, but he has still been very important in pushing them into the top four.


8. Felipe Anderson (West Ham from Lazio, $42 million) – The Brazilian playmaker has lived up to his status as the Hammers’ club-record signing, with some classy performances. His goals have dried up but he has continued to deliver consistently good displays. A little inconsistent, but very good overall.


9. Rui Patricio (Wolves from Sporting Lisbon, $20 million) – Initially a free transfer after the player situation at Sporting, Wolves have agreed to pay $20 million for the Portuguese international goalkeeper via a tribunal. That is still a bargain. Patricio has made some wonderful saves and his distribution is very good and he brings a calming influence to the defense.


10. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford from Barcelona, $14.7 million) – Okay, he was on loan at Watford last January, but he didn’t play too well in the second half of last season. That said, Watford signed him permanently in the summer and he’s been very good with seven goals and five assists so far. A nomadic career finally seems to have settled down for the 25-year-old Spaniard.


11. James Maddison (Leicester from Norwich, $26.5 million) – The young Englishman has settled into life in the PL very quickly and he’s scored some stunning goals. Maddison has been called up to the England squad but didn’t make his debut, however he is a key part of Leicester’s future under new manager Brendan Rodgers. A fast start to the campaign has dissipated, but in recent weeks he has picked up form again. At 22, he has so much potential.


12. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal from Lorient, $9.2 million) – Like Torreira, his arrival made a big difference early in the season but he has gone off the boil a little bit. That said, for a 19-year-old he has shown admirable maturity and the way he rattles into challenges and keeps the ball is a perfect fit for the Premier League. A rising star.


Notable buys: Alisson (Liverpool from AS Roma, $74 million), Fabinho (Liverpool from AS Monaco, $51 million), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth from ), Harry Arter (Cardiff City from Bournemouth, loan), Lucas Digne (Everton from Barcelona, $23 million), Andre Gomes (Everton from Barcelona, loan), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham from Newcastle, $25 million), Issa Diop (West Ham from Toulouse, $29 million), Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham from Swansea, $9.2 million), Willy Boly (Wolves from FC Porto, $15.9 million)


Bonus – Best January buys: Youri Tielemans, Miguel Almiron, Michy Batshuayi, Samir Nasri

The quartet above have all made big differences to their respective teams, with Tielemans a classy addition for Leicester on loan from Monaco, Almiron adding some much-needed creativity to Newcastle’s attack after a club-record arrival from Atlanta United, Batshuayi banging in goals during his first few months on loan from Chelsea and Nasri making a big difference at West Ham. All four have delivered exactly what has been asked of them, so far. It is too early to say they deserve to be in the top 10 signings of the season, but it is clear they have made fast starts at their new clubs.