Graham Potter

Martial’s Manchester United eases past Brighton

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Anthony Martial had two assists and Manchester United eased past Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 on Sunday.

Marcus Rashford and Andreas Pereira were joined on the score sheet by a Davy Propper own goal, with Lewis Dunk‘s second half header the only Brighton moment.

Influential midfielder Scott McTominay needed help to get off the pitch after a stoppage time injury.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

United moves seventh with 16 points, one back of fifth but nine behind fourth place Man City.

Brighton drops into 11th with its 15 points.


Three things we learned

1. Martial the maestro: We suspected that Martial’s absence from the United lineup was just as detrimental as Paul Pogba‘s, and the Frenchman has shown his worth. Another two assists today, including one of monster work on United’s  goal to reestablish the two-goal advantage. Still just 23, Martial has five goals and three assists in 10 matches across all competitions. United went 1-2-2 in the league while he was out.

2. Red Devils go to the greasy places: Manchester United, for as long as its been a club of influence, was capable of the sublime individual or team goals, but this unit has to make sure it puts its nose into the grimy, seedy parts of the pitch. It did that to get its second goal, and was sure to play that way early. Yet they also rose to the occasion once Brighton was forced to open up, more than tripling the Seagulls shot output. Well done on the whole for a needed simple win.

3. Socceroo shining: Mathew Ryan is a fine Premier League goalkeeper, and we were reminded of that Sunday when the Australian was credited with nine saves in a match which could’ve looked much worse than 3-1.

Man of the Match: Martial.


Marcus Rashford put Mat Ryan into an early bit of work, though there wasn’t much danger in their fourth minute encounter.

United took the lead in the 17th minute, as Pereira lost the ball but saw it roll to Martial. The Frenchman cut it back, and Pereira’s shot took a wicked deflection to beat Ryan.

It was 2-0 within minutes, McTominay crashing the goal and forcing Davy Propper to bundle an own goal over the line after Harry Maguire nodded a Fred free kick toward the line.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Pereira stung a shot at Ryan in the 57th minute, the match really lacking luster.

United’s Brendan Williams was shown a yellow card for a kick to the chest of Steven Alzate.

Fred forced Ryan into a save after the hour mark, and Brighton just missed a bid to make it interesting when Neal Maupay couldn’t get a foot on a loose ball in the six.

Then Graham Potter‘s men got their pull back, with Dunk getting free from Pereira to nod a corner kick home.

But United restored the two-goal advantage through Rashford, who was set up by the wonderful work of Martial. A proper goal for the Red Devils’ third.

Rashford then missed an absolute sitter following a delightful set-up from Daniel James.

PL Sunday Preview: Wolves, Man United in action; Liverpool host Man City

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features the likes of Wolves, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Brighton all in action. It is also headlined by the biggest match of the season yet: Liverpool vs Manchester City.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Wolves vs. Aston Villa — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Just weeks removed from a EFL Cup bout between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa that saw the latter come out victorious 2-1, both West Midland sides will meet again.

This time, however, the scenario will be distinct. Both sides won’t meet at Villa Park; instead,  Stadium will be the stadium of choice. Second-choice sides will not be front and center. It’s a league match, both teams will lineup with the best they have to offer and, as a result the intensity, will be vastly fiercer.

That’s if Wolves have the legs for that scenario to be a reality in the first place.

With Europa League added to an already daunting schedule, Nuno Espirito Santo and company have played eight matches since the start of October, averaging more than one per week. Villa, who’ve lost back to back league matches, are mindful of that and hope it will benefit them when all is said and done.

“They’re very tough to beat, they’ve got great organization and structure,” Villa manager Dean Smith ahead of Sunday’s derby. “They’ve got players who can score goals having gone to Manchester City and won, gone to Arsenal and equalized to come away with a point…so they’ll feel they’re in a run of form.”

“People look from the outside and think ‘is the amount of games they’re playing going to catch up with them?,'” he added. “We’re hopeful that is does on Sunday.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Gibbs-White (back), Boly (leg)| Aston Villa — OUT: Keenan Davis (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Brighton and Hove Albion — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

Brighton and Hove Albion have never won at Old Trafford.

Graham Potter and his group of players want to make history and change that against a historically-poor Manchester United.

“It would be great to get a result this weekend at one of the best places in world football,” Potter said. “Their quality is undoubted and we respect that – but we want to go there and be ourselves and take on the challenge in a positive way.”

Brighton are in positive form, sitting eighth on the table and two points clear of United, who haven’t had a start to the season as dreadful as 2019’s – 13 points in 11 matches – since 1986 under Ron Atkinson. In their last four bouts, Brighton have earned victories in three, defeating Tottenham, Everton and Norwich City.

It’s all very different for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils.

Despite a convincing 3-0 win over a paltry Partizan midweek, the pressure at Old Trafford keeps looming over the injury-riddled team, who lost their previous league match against Bournemouth 1-0. Time and time again, the questions have been asked, but the answers have yet to surface.

Even then, Solskjaer feels their latest Europa League victory has left them with a blueprint.

“This is a little bit of a template on how we want to play, definitely,” the Norwegian manager stated following his team’s win on Thursday. “No disrespect to Partizan, but they gave us spaces. Of course after we scored the first goal, they went forward.”

“These boys are learning,” he added. “Tonight will give them loads of pointers of how to play. Even though the opposition is not the same as in the Premier League, it was still good principles.”

Nowhere was the word “consistency” mentioned, however. If they want to right the ship, they’ll need to learn it.

INJURIES: Manchester United — OUT: Dalot (hip), Matic (knock), Luke Shaw (thigh), Tuanzebe (hip), Eric Bailly (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Pogba (ankle); SUSPENDED: Ashley Young (one match) | Brighton — OUT: Bernardo (knee), Izquierdo (knee), Webster (ankle)

Liverpool vs. Manchester City — 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

It’s the match everyone had circled on their calendars: Jurgen Klopp‘s unbeaten Liverpool against Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City in front of a sold-out Anfield.

It’s the type of spectacle that requires no added hype, even though Klopp did just that heading into the season’s biggest match yet.

“From a sport’s point of view this rivalry is getting bigger and bigger,” the German manager said in front of an eager press conference room this weekend. “Thank god there is a rivalry because it means we are a pretty good team as well.”

“If you are not brave against Man City you don’t have the chance of even a point,” he added. “Everyone has to be in top shape in the stadium on Sunday, even the guy selling the hotdogs. Everyone has to be there from the warm-up and invest all our emotions.”

With City in position to jump to second and be only three points from Liverpool with a win, the match promises to have it all. And Guardiola main message is urging his players to leave it all on the field when they take on the league’s favorites.

“I just want my team to fight to the end,” the 48-year-old said. “Liverpool are a team that lost one game last season, none this season, so you cannot believe that they will lose many, but the season is long.”

“They do everything well,” he added. “You see the team, what is the weak point? They are a real complete team and we need this kind of rival.”

That said, City is stuffed with injuries – namely, Ederson and David Silva, who were both unable to recover and get fit for Sunday’s clash. Claudio Bravo, who saw a red card midweek in Champions League play, will be between the sticks for the defending champions.

What many think will prove to be problematic for the visitors, is the opposite of loss of quality for Guardiola. The Spaniard is convinced that the Chilean goalkeeper has the ability and is of the pedigree to play in matches of such stature.

“He is an exceptional goalkeeper,” Guardiola said. “He is an international goalkeeper. I have no doubts.

“Why shouldn’t I be confident about my players? I see him every day in training. We won’t lose because of Claudio.

“The red card the other day was because we lost the ball,” he added. Respect the guy. He is a top keeper.”

Surely, Liverpool, led by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, will look to exploit any deficiencies City puts forward. For now, those deficiencies are unknown.

What is public knowledge, however, is that very few matches – if any – this season will be as big as Sunday’s.

INJURIES: Liverpool  OUT: Joel Matip (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee) | Manchester City  OUT: Ederson (knock), Rodri (hamstring), David Silva (thigh), Zinchenko (knee), Leroy Sané (knee), Laporte (knee)

Top Premier League storylines: Week 12

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We all know that the highlight of the Premier League weekend is its final act before the international break, but there’s more going on besides Liverpool-Man City.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


1 v 2

  • Liverpool v. Manchester City, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

This is it: The date circled by both of these fan bases and most neutrals when the Premier League fixture list was released this summer. Man City’s injury list is long and Anfield has been a fortress, but the onus is on the league leaders to handle their business against the two-time reigning champions.

The story lines within this match alone are myriad: Is Ederson‘s injury a mirage? Can City’s marauding full backs deal with the Reds’ wing wizardry? Plus, will the love between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp take a hit following a tense week of diving talk and a more tense battle on the pitch?

And let’s face it: VAR is gonna have something to say before the day is done on Merseyside.


Foxes can make Arsenal even smaller in rear view mirror

  • Leicester City v. Arsenal, 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

The Gunners and Foxes know that at least one of the league’s top two will drop points this week, and Unai Emery knows the table can look a lot cozier if he can take three points from a Leicester City side which is overachieving by many metrics.


Chelsea finishes promising stretch of schedule at home

  • Chelsea v. Crystal Palace, 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

Since losing to Liverpool, Chelsea has won five-straight in league play. The Blues have outscored Brighton, Saints, Newcastle, Burnley, and Watford by a combined score of 13-4. Palace is the last match of a winnable run before Man City comes calling after the international break.


Improving Seagulls hope Red Devils are weary

  • Manchester United v. Brighton, 9 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

Graham Potter‘s Brighton and Hove Albion have won three of four to move within two points of fifth. United’s improved form took a step back at Bournemouth but picked right back up with a blowout of Partizan Belgrade on Thursday. Both sides will be looking for three points.


Blades aim to carve another point from a top end foe

  • Tottenham Hotspur v. Sheffield United, 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN

The Blades have beaten Arsenal, drawn Chelsea, and probably deserved a point against Liverpool. Now they had to a Tottenham side whose been anything but consistent, and Chris Wilder‘s men will be thinking another result is in the offing.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 11

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A new last place side and the potential for movement at the top, of course, as the Premier League anticipates a weekend with swing matches all over the fixture list.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

It starts with a relegation swinger between Norwich City and Watford, and ends with Sunday’s hotly-anticipated visit of Manchester City to Liverpool.

Let’s say where they all sit right now.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low


20. Norwich City — Two goals in six matches since beating Man City, both in the 87th minute or later of blowout losses. Battle stations for Friday against an improved Hornets side.
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Brighton
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Friday v. Watford

19. Southampton — Impressive enough while under duress, and a decent bounce back after the Leicester humiliation.
Last week: 20
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Everton

18. Watford — Moral victories aren’t worth three points, and the improved Hornets are six points back of safety. Friday is a must.
Last week: 20
Season high: 18
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Friday at Norwich City

17. West Ham United — Is this an institutional issue? Because Manuel Pellegrini is a heck of a coach and the talent here is deep. Lukasz Fabianski can’t come back soon enough.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 3-2 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

16. Burnley — Three-straight losses heading into an all-Claret visit to West Ham.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham United

15. Newcastle United — Over-performing their talent, yeah, and Allan Saint-Maximin is worth the price of admission. A win at home over Bournemouth would ease a lot of concerns.
Last week: 17
Season high: 15
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-2 at West Ham United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

14. Tottenham Hotspur — Their display versus Everton was the definition of underwhelming.
Last week: 10
Season high: 2
Season low: 13
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Sheffield United

13. Everton — So much better than their record. We’re all pulling for Andre Gomes, who might be a big loss in addition to the emotions involved.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Saints

12. Brighton and Hove Albion — Graham Potter is getting results, and some buys in January might make the Seagulls a good bet for midtable.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Norwich City
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

11. Aston Villa — Dean Smith will be furious with his men for another late capitulation, even if it was against Liverpool.
Last week: 8
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Liverpool
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Wolves

10. Arsenal — Free Nicolas Pepe.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 8
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Leicester City

9. Manchester United — This team badly needs Paul Pogba back. And he’s not coming any time soon.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Brighton and Hove Albion

8. Crystal Palace — Wilfried Zaha‘s goal-scoring drought sure could use ending, but how about a nod to James McArthur‘s exceptional early season?
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

7. Bournemouth —  Diego Rico and Philip Billing have been very impressive when the Cherries are at their best.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Man Utd
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Newcastle United

6. Wolves — Four points from the Europa League places despite a highly-suspect start to the season. No one wants Wolves on their schedule. Now if they could get back to playing well against teams that are not the big boys.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Arsenal
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Aston Villa

5. Sheffield United — The advanced stats say the Blades are riding their luck, but we’re enjoying the journey.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Spurs

4. Leicester City — Those same advanced stats say Leicester has been really fortunate, but like Steve McQueen in “Papillon,” they are still here.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 2-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Arsenal

3. Chelsea — A forgiving run of schedules opened the door to Christian Pulisic and Co., and they’ve taken the door off its hinges and set it on fire. City in two weeks.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 2-1 at Watford
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace

2. Manchester City — No pressure, Pep, but Liverpool can take the title off you with all three points on Sunday.
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Southampton
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Liverpool

1. Liverpool — Showtime, Jurgen.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 at Aston Villa
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Man City

Brighton win again, beat Norwich

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Brighton beat Norwich City 2-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, as the Seagulls continue their amazing form at home.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Graham Potter‘s side saw Leandro Trossard score one and set up another as the Seagulls made it 2-0 thanks to Shane Duffy‘s late striker. They dominated Norwich and should have won by a heftier margin.

With the win Brighton move up to eighth in the table, while Norwich remain second from bottom.


3 things we learned

1. Trossard’s quality tells: The playmaker arrived from Genk this summer and when he’s been fit, he’s made a huge difference. Potter has Brighton playing lovely football and they need a cutting edge. Trossard delivers that, and he was the difference on Saturday with a goal and an assist.

2. Norwich fail to support Pukki: Early in the season the Canaries were getting up to support Pukki, but they just aren’t doing that anymore. Farke’s side are sitting too deep, maybe due to their defensive injuries and issues, and aren’t gambling to support their star Finnish striker in attack.

3. Seagulls soaring away from relegation scrap: Many believed Brighton would be in the bottom three at the end of the season, and that clearly won’t be the case. They are solid defensively but now have a clear plan in midfield and attack and they are exciting to watch. They’ve made the most of the momentum they gained from beating Tottenham. What a start for Potter.

Man of the Match: Leonardo Trossard – He jumped off the bench and scored and grabbed an assist, with the Belgian playmaker key in this Brighton side. If he can stay fit, the Seagulls will be clear of the bottom three.


Brighton dominated the first half but couldn’t finish off the chances they created as Norwich held on.

Neal Maupay then missed a sitter, as he swung his foot at but failed to get a proper connection as Brighton let Norwich off the hook.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half it was Aaron Connolly‘s turn to go close, then at the other end Teemu Pukki had a half chance but couldn’t make the most of it.

Norwich barely threatened in attack and Pukki was an isolated figure up top.

Montoya whipped in a cross at the near post as Trossard poked home to put Brighton 1-0 with 20 minutes to go and seal all three points for the Seagulls.

Maupay was denied by Tim Krul late on and missed another glorious chance late on, but Duffy then scored as he stretched his leg out to make it 2-0 after Trossard’s ball.

Brighton’s great home form continues as they’ve now won three-straight at the Amex.