Jota

Wolves unbeaten in 7 after sinking Aston Villa

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Wolves ran their Premier League unbeaten streak to seven with a 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa at the Molineux on Sunday.

Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez supplied the goals, a clean sheet spoiled by Trezeguet’s stoppage time tally.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves now sit eighth with 16 points, five more than 17th place Aston Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Wolves again ready to threaten the Top Six: A slow start to the season, rife with Europa League congestion, had Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves wallowing in the Bottom Three. No more. Wolves’ only loss since September was a League Cup defeat against Villa, who fought hard but didn’t have the hosts’ level of class on Sunday. Look out (again) for Nuno’s men.

2. Stop us if you’ve read this one before: The old, worn-out maxim that “(Player X) only scores bangers” comes very close to being true when it comes to Ruben Neves. The 22-year-old hasn’t met a shot from distance he doesn’t love, but this one off the training ground was the right call at the right time. And the seeing-eye quality of it all…

3. El Tri’s target man keeps firing: Raul Jimenez’s finished off the scoring with his 13th goal in 22 matches across all competitions, many of them coming late in matches. The Mexican forward also has three assists, and he continues to deliver for Nuno Espirito Santo in tight affairs.

Man of the Match: Adama Traore — The recent Spain call-up was all over the field as usual, hitting the woodwork with a shot and grabbing an assist. Credited with an absurd nine successful dribbles, his development under Nuno has been nothing short of sensational.


Wolves had the first two corners of the match, and Villa was soon forced into a change when second choice keeper Jed Steer — filling in for injured Tom Heaton — suffered a leg injury and limped off the pitch.

He was replaced by Norwegian international Orjan Nyland, who arrived from Ingolstadt in 2018 and played 23 times in the Villa’s promotion campaign.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Diogo Jota misread a 3v2 break, then headed to Nyland under pressure.

Then a short free kick routine set up Ruben Neves in his office, and he delivered with typical aplomb.

Jota‘s second half bid to make it 2-0 was well-saved by Nyland.

Watch Live: Man Utd-Brighton, Wolves-Villa

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When Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United meet at Old Trafford on Sunday, only one team can rise into the Top Five within a win, and it isn’t the Red Devils.

Fourteenth-place United hopes to leapfrog the eighth place Seagulls by collecting all three points (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Mason Greenwood and Juan Mata are available off the bench for the Red Devils.

[ STREAM: Man Utd-Brighton | Wolves-Villa ]

That’s one of two 9 a.m. ET kickoffs, as Wolves hope to move into the Top Ten and dodge a leapfrog bid from Aston Villa at the Molineux (Watch live on NBC Sports Gold, online via NBCSports.com).

Jed Steer starts in goal for Aston Villa, deputizing for injured Tom Heaton.

LINEUPS

Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, McTominay, Fred, Pereira, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Jones, Mata, Lingard, Rojo, Greenwood, Garner.

Brighton: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, Trossard, Propper, Stephens, Alzate, Maupay, Connolly. Subs: Button, Gross, Balogun, Murray, Mooy, March, Schelotto.


Wolves: Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jota, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez. Subs: Ruddy, Bennett, Neto, Cutrone, Perry, Vinagre, Kilman.

Aston Villa: Steer, Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Luiz, McGinn, El Ghazi, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Wesley. Subs: Nyland, Taylor, Chester, Lansbury, Hourihane, Kodjia, Elmohamady.

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool lead title race by 6 points
  • Villa sit 15th in PL table, on 11 points
  • LFC won 6-0 last trip to Villa Park, in 2016

Liverpool’s 100-percent Premier League record may have ended two weeks ago with a 1-1 draw away to rivals Manchester United, but the Reds continue to pace the PL title race ahead of Saturday’s trip to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold).

In theory, facing a recently promoted side like Villa should be the most straightforward challenge in a week that saw Liverpool take on, and beat, both north London sides — first, Tottenham Hotspur in PL action on Sunday, followed by Arsenal in a 5-5 thriller in the EFL Cup on Wednesday. It’s been a taxing period for Jurgen Klopp‘s men, though, as they came back from 1-0 down to Tottenham inside the game’s first minute and erased a pair of two-goal deficits to the Gunners before triumphing in a penalty shootout. Coincidentally, Liverpool and Villa were then drawn against one another in the quarterfinals of the EFL Cup, tentatively scheduled to be played in mid-December. Before that was a trip to Belgium in the Champions League and another fight-back from a goal down against Man United.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Virgil Van Dijk were all spared from further action midweek, their first period of inaction in over a month, including the recent international break. Klopp is plenty wary about the demands of the modern game. The EFL Cup presents the ideal opportunity to rest first-team stars, but he needs them to return at the peak of their abilities once it’s back to PL action if Liverpool are to hold of Manchester City and win their first English league title since 1990.

Villa won’t be a pushover, however, as Dean Smith‘s side has won three of its last four games in all competitions, including back-to-back games against fellow relegation battlers in PL action and an EFL Cup round of 16 triumph over Wolverhampton Wanderers. The lone blemish came in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat away to Man City, a game they kept scoreless for the entire first half before Raheem Sterling opened the floodgates in the first minute of the second half.

Injuries/suspensions

Aston Villa: OUT – Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Jack Grealish (calf)

Liverpool: OUT – Joel Matip (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Naby Keita (groin), Nathaniel Clyne (knee)


Projected lineups

Aston Villa: Heaton – Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett – Nakamba – Trezeguet, McGinn, Luiz, Grealish – Wesley

Liverpool: Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson – Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum – Salah, Firmino, Mane


What they’re saying

Bjorn Engels, on bragging rights: “My girlfriend is from Liverpool. Her whole family is. And they are all Reds, too. We have been joking about things in the build-up. I think Aston Villa is the only team who can beat Liverpool and they won’t be too upset. If we win, I think there will be no problem. They love Liverpool. Of course, when you are born with a team, that is who you support. But I think they will be happy for me if we get a good result.”

Klopp, on Georginio Wijnaldum’s importance: “Gini speaks on the pitch for the way he plays. It’s just so obvious his importance. And it is in both directions — in attack and defence, small spaces, big spaces, it is hard challenges, fine football, pretty much all of that. Is he the perfect midfielder? Yes, from the skill set, 100 percent. He has all that you need.”


Prediction

Liverpool haven’t been at their very best in recent weeks, but they’ve managed to pick up positive results against some tough sides. Having the luxury of resting the big names this week should do them a world of good and bring about a swift response, at Villa’s expense. Aston Villa 0-3 Liverpool.

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.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

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.

 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

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.

Watch Live: Newcastle United v. Wolves

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Weary Wolves visit Newcastle with both teams missing top defenders at St. James’ Park on Sunday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s visitors were in Slovakia for Europa League on Thursday, and lost mammoth center back Willy Boly to a fibula fracture in training.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Newcastle is rested but also missing its top performer in Swiss center back Fabian Schar.

USMNT right back DeAndre Yedlin does start for Steve Bruce‘s Magpies.

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Willems, M. Longstaff, S. Longstaff, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, JoelintonSubs: Darlow, Krafth, Dummett, Shelvey, Atsu, Gayle, Muto.

Wolves: Patricio, Otto, Saiss, Coady, Dendoncker, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jota,, Raul, Traore. Subs: Ruddy, Vallejo, Neto, Cutrone, Vinagre, Kilman, Ashley-Seal.