Jonny Otto

Watford Wolves recap
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Watford holds on through red card to topple Wolves

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Watford built a two-goal lead and held on through a 71st minute red card to beat Wolves 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.

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Nigel Pearson‘s men have now won three of four matches and are two points back of safety with 19 points.

Gerard Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure scored the goals, the latter on his 27th birthday.

As for Wolves, they fail in a bid to strengthen their top-end credentials and sit seventh with 30 points.


Three things we learned

1. Deulofeu one of the season’s X-factors: Watford got 10 league goals with five assists out of the Spaniard last season, but the 25-year-old hasn’t been able to do as much this go-round. Ismaila Sarr is now humming along, too, and Watford’s attack finding it footing.

Wednesday’s goal was Deulofeu’s fourth of the season, and it’s interesting to note the change in production from his first Premier League stint. At Everton, Deulofeu had eight goals and 19 assists in 75 matches, compared to now 17 and eight in 63 for the Hornets.

2. Wolves losing hope of Top Four: Wolves are playing as many games as anyone in Europe, and maybe this was all a big ask given the brutal fixture list; Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men were unlucky versus Liverpool but not sharp enough Wednesday in losing a second-successive loss. Their twin wins over Man City show that anything is possible, but they really needed to grab these points before the Europa League fixture list begins to torture them again.

3. Mentality fixed under Pearson: Nigel Pearson’s men could’ve wilted given the opposition and the red card, but stood firm against a very good Wolves side to move even closer to the safe spaces. They’ll finish the day between two and four points back of safety, which seemed silly mere weeks ago. Right now, it looks like Watford has a chance to return to their plucky and potent team of last season.

Man of the Match: Most of the best individual days belonged to Wolves, but Deulofeu was part of a lively attack and gets our nod.


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Conor Coady sent Matt Doherty through to goal in the 13th minute, but Ben Foster continued his fine form with a big save.

Wolves wanted a penalty when Pedro Neto hit the deck in the box, but a yellow card was given and VAR stayed with the call.

Deulofeu gave Watford the lead with a curling finish around Rui Patricio. Ismaila Sarr continued his good form with the assist, as the Hornets scored with their fifth attempt of the night.

Sarr came close to a goal of his own when Troy Deeney played him into the right of the 18.

Doucoure made it 2-0 coming out of the break when Deulofeu dribbled to the middle and laid off wide, a hard deflected strike leaving Patricio for dead.

The hour mark saw the match back in play thanks to Neto’s first Premier League goal, a deflected effort from distance.

Jonny Otto won a dangerous free kick for Wolves and a man advantage, too, when he was fouled by Christian Kabasele in the 72nd. The Watford defender sent off, and Wolves were unable to equalize up a man over 19 minutes.

Edgy Liverpool beat Wolves

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Liverpool beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 on Sunday at Anfield but it was far from routine for the Premier League leaders.

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Amid VAR drama in the first half which saw Sadio Mane’s goal ruled legit by video technology then chalking off what looked like an equalizer from Wolves’ Neto, the game was tight and tense as Wolves spurned several decent chances in the second half.

With the win Liverpool are now 50 games unbeaten at home in the Premier League and they lead second-place Leicester City by 13 points and also have a game in hand. Wolves sit in seventh place on 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. Reds grind it out as PL title procession begins: Liverpool are just a winning machine. They have won 17-straight games at home, they are 50 unbeaten in the PL at Anfield and they have lost just one of their last 36 PL games and none this season. Klopp’s side have been workmanlike during many games this season and they’ve shaken off the tag as the great entertainers. They can still do that but they can also grind out wins with ease. That is why they are 13 points clear at the halfway point and why their title procession has already begun.

2. Wolves livid but VAR followed the rules: Nuno Espirito Santo was booked, Wolves’ players fell to their knees and fans watching across the globe vented their anger at VAR. But, under the current laws of the game, the video technology worked well. That will not be a popular opinion but after 24 hours which has seen so many tight offside calls chalking off goals, it happened agains as Neto looked to have equalized right on half time. A tweak to the offside law is needed by IFAB otherwise we will have these tight offside calls for the rest of the time we have VAR.

3. Memorable 2019 for Liverpool: They won their sixth European title and are runaway leaders in the Premier League. 2019 has been kind to Liverpool even if they were pipped to the 2018-19 title. Many thought Klopp’s side would be demoralized by losing out on the title by one point last season but they’ve been utterly dominant in the last 12 months, losing just once in the PL, winning the UCL and they look set to smash several records on their way to winning the PL this season.

Man of the Match: Neto – He was absolutely everywhere, scored a superb goal which was ruled out and gave Alexander-Arnold a torrid outing. Superb display from the Portuguese teenager.


Liverpool started brightly as Trent Alexander-Arnold had a shot from the edge of the box which was blocked, then his cross found Salah who slotted just over the bar.

Salah then had a shot bravely blocked as Liverpool had plenty of the ball but Wolves were a threat on the break.

The hosts continued to huff and puff as Mane caused problems and Roberto Firmino nodded wide, as Wolves’ defense was just about holding firm.

Right on half time Liverpool took the lead as Mane finished off a flick from Adam Lallana. However, the goal was initially ruled off for handball on the pitch but VAR was used to overturn the decision as Lallana flicked it on with his shoulder instead of his arm.

Wolves thought they had equalized right on half time but Neto’s goal was ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside in the build up by Jonny Otto, as the visitors were livid and the hosts delighted, as Liverpool led 1-0 at the break.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Georginio Wijnaldum then had a header from a promising position deflected over as Liverpool started the second half well.

Wolves grew into the second half as Adama Traore came off the bench and Diogo Jota caught Virgil Van Dijk in possession but his shot was deflected wide as the hosts built up a head of steam.

As the game opened up Liverpool had plenty of chances to wrap it up on the break but Wolves dug deep to stay in the game as long as they could.

Substitute Raul Jimenez saw his effort deflected over by Joe Gomez as Liverpool were pinned back late on but Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss and Ruben Vinagre all smashed over from good positions and Traore was denied by a superb block.

VIDEO: VAR drama dominates Liverpool v. Wolves

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Oh, VAR, you just love to be the center of attention, don’t you?

The Premier League released statements on two decisions made in the first half of Liverpool against Wolves at Anfield, as Sadio Mane’s goal was initially ruled out but then allowed by VAR and Neto’s goal was first allowed then disallowed by VAR.

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According to our lead soccer announcer Arlo White, the PGMOL checked a possible handball on Virgil Van Dijk as well as Adam Lallana on Mane’s goal but nothing was given as neither handled in the opinion of the VAR official.

The more controversial decision came right on half time as Wolves thought they had equalized but Neto’s goal was ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside in the build up by Jonny Otto. Replays showed that half of Otto’s boot was offside and although Wolves were livid, under the current set of rules the decision had to be offside.

Here are the Premier League’s statements on both incidents:

Mane’s goal: “After consulting the VAR, referee Anthony Taylor awarded the goal to Liverpool because a handball was incorrectly flagged during the attacking phase.”

Neto’s no-goal: “After consulting the VAR, referee Anthony Taylor has overturned the goal because Jonny was offside in the build-up.”

And here is a timeline of the incidents in question and analysis from our broadcast crew on the current situation regarding VAR.

Wolves, Seagulls split spoils at the Amex

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Wolves failed in a bid to pull within three points of fourth place, drawing Brighton 2-2 at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.

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Diogo Jota scored twice in a 4-goal first half, with Neal Maupay and Davy Propper bagging goals for Brighton. The Seagulls remain 12th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Wolves’ blink at Top Four chance: Wolves entered the day with a chance to close to within three points of fourth place Chelsea, and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men next face Spurs, Norwich City, Man City, and Liverpool. They needed three points here. Not for lack of effort, they couldn’t conjure the magic.

2. Jota calm in the finish: Jota scored his second and third Premier League goals of the season, joining his Europa League success to give him six. He added five assists in the UEL, and is averaging 2.5 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per contest.

 

3. Maupay paying off faith: The French center forward has blossoming into a steady Premier League contributor after his outlandish production in the Championship earned him a big money move to the Amex Stadium. His sixth goal in 16 matches now includes goals against Wolves, Spurs, Everton, and Arsenal.

Man of the Match: Jota.


Brighton had most of the ball for the first half hour, but could’ve solve the Wolves back line.

Jota put Wolves ahead via a clever 1-2 with Raul Jimenez to get behind the line, prodding home for 1-0.

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The lead lasted all of six minutes, as Maupay and Propper struck two minutes apart.

Maupay’s was a fine finish of a long Dale Stephens assist, while Propper headed a Leandro Trossard cross past Rui Patricio in the 36th.

Propper then fell from grace with a miserable pass stolen by Jonny Otto, the wingback finding Jota for his second goal of the night.

Wolves thought VAR might give them a penalty for handball in the 62nd minute, to no avail.

It was Wolves’ turn to give away a huge chance, but Stephens curled the effort wide of the far post in the 72nd minute.

Wolves come back to draw 10-man Newcastle

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Wolves battled midweek fatigue to grab a point at Newcastle United, coming from behind to draw the 10-man Magpies 1-1 at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

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Jamaal Lascelles gave Newcastle a lead but Jonny Otto leveled it in the second half before Sean Longstaff was sent off for a wild slide into Ruben Neves.

Wolves move 11th with 12 points, while Newcastle’s ninth point sits a point above the relegation zone.


Three things we learned

1. Magpies sit back, can’t soak up: Given a lead, the hosts went into the break and came out of it a different side. Newcastle sat back as its weary visitors sense blood in the water. Martin Dubravka was less than ideal on the equalizer, but he had little help over the course of the final 45 minutes, the Magpies’ half on the back foot taking a three-point day to one.

2. Traore a handful (Saint-Maximin, too): Twenty-three-year-old Spanish winger Adama Traore had a reputation as a one-trick speed merchant last season but has been so much more than that this year. He gave the Magpies fits on the right side and his service into the mix deserved a goal, but will be have to be sated by a hockey assist on the equalizer.

“Saint-Max” had a similar day for the hosts, though his best work was limited to the first half. His ability to find space and dribble through traffic is critical to matching Miguel Almiron (more on him below) and trying to set up Joelinton, but Newcastle badly needs a midfielder who can link their possession players to their attacking talents.

3. Improved Almiron still shaken — The former Atlanta United star had his best day in terms of pace, energy, industry, and tackling, but is miles away was his best self when it comes to finishing and that final pass. There was a lot of promise to his day, but if we’re honest the Magpies have a multi-goal lead if he’s anywhere near confident.

Man of the Match: Jamaal Lascelles — The Magpies captain said he’d pitch in more with goals and did just that, but was extra important on a day goalkeeper Martin Dubravka wasn’t at his best.


Dubravka was called into action by an 18-yard Joao Moutinho shot in the second minute.

The Magpies had a chance off a free kick two minutes later, but snakebit Miguel Almiron butchered a half-volley with his weaker foot.

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Almiron made two interventions in his own end including a vital block in the 14th minute.

The match was delayed for several minutes when Wolves’ Diogo Jota suffered a head injury after a shoulder barge from Federico Fernandez.

Almiron was so bright but the lack of confidence in his final ball or pass remained, a 34th minute effort meeting the outside of the net after a heavy touch.

Lascelles delivered the opener after a fine cross from Federico Fernandez, thumping a header past Rui Patricio.

It really should’ve been 1-1 when Adama Traore’s cross had a bit too much venom for Jota to turn under the bar.

Dubravka made a nice stop on Jota in the 64th but spilled the ball and needed help from Sean Longstaff to clear the danger.

Wolves controlled the second half with Newcastle back in a shell, and Jonny got the equalizer after Dubravka couldn’t claim a cross and pushed into to the penalty spot.

Jetro Willems hammered a 20-yard shot just wide of the far post as Newcastle tried to fight back for a win.

Though Newcastle was in better position, Sean Longstaff ended that with a wild, studs-up slide that got the ball but then Neves. His absence will be felt at West Ham.