Morgan Gibbs-White

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PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s post-Emery era; Man Utd host Villa

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features four games, including (but not limited to) the first game of the post-Unai Emery era at Arsenal, Manchester United with a chance to climb into fifth place, and what could be the final game of Marco Silva‘s tenure at Everton.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Arsenal v. Norwich City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal on Friday, making way for the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era to begin on Sunday. With no obvious candidate standing out from all the others, Ljungberg, a long-time favorite as a Gunners player, could be given the chance to impress and have the “interim” tag removed, a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a year ago. After taking just three points from their last five PL games, Arsenal have fallen to ninth place, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea, and could finish the weekend as low as 10th place. On the other hand, a win over 19th-place Norwich would see them climb up to fifth, a point ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, who took the PL by storm with five goals in his first three games, hasn’t found the back of the net since Sept. 14, a run of eight straight goal-less games for the Fininish forward.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Dani Ceballos (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring), David Luiz (ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (foot) | Norwich  — OUT: Alexander Tettey (personal), Grant Hanley (groin), Timm Klose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jamal Lewis (knee), Josip Drmic (hamstring)


Wolves v. Sheffield United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Through 13 games of their debut season in the PL, Sheffield United are threatening to “do a Wolves,” in so much that the newly promoted side currently sits seventh — where Wolves finished last season — following a red-hot start. Following a poor start of their own (zero wins from their first six games), Wolves have rebounded nicely (unbeaten in their last eight, including four wins) and climbed all the way up to sixth (each side sat a place higher coming into the weekend).

INJURIES: Wolves —  OUT: Willy Boly (ankle), Ryan Bennett (groin), Romain Saiss (suspension), Morgan Gibbs-White (back) | Sheffield United  — OUT: None


Man United v. Aston Villa — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Nearly four months into the season, Man United are still without back-to-back PL victories. In fact, they’ve not repeated the same result — win, loss or draw — in consecutive league games all season. The Red Devils ave been, if anything, consistently inconsistent. After drawing Sheffield United 3-3 last time out, the best Solskjaer’s side can do on Sunday is get halfway there ahead of Tottenham’s blockbuster visit, and Jose Mourinho’s return, on Wednesday. United’s injury list remains extensive — and expensive — as Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly remain out, with Nemanja Matic perhaps set to return on Sunday. As for Villa, Dean Smith‘s side snapped a three-game losing skid last time out by thoroughly besting Newcastle United at Villa Park to put four points between themselves and the relegation zone. Following Southampton’s victory on Saturday, that gap is already down to two points.

INJURIES: Man United —  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Nemanja Matic (groin), Scott McTominay (ankle) | Aston Villa  — OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (hip)


Leicester City v. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Every defeat in the coming days could prove to be the final day of Silva’s employment as Everton manager, with the Toffees entering Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium in 17th place. It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (seven) on the season thus far, but the sides to which they’ve lost (Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich, to name most of them) that stands out as most embarrassing for a club that thought it would be competing for the top-six this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have happily and swiftly taken their place as the side most likely to break up the monotony of the same clubs finishing atop the table every season. The Foxes entered the weekend in second place (they have since fallen to second), eight points back of Liverpool (now 11), on the back of five straight league victories. Jamie Vardy‘s 12 goals have garnered most of the headlines, but the play-making duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been arguably more enjoyable to watch

INJURIES: Leicester —  OUT: Matty James (achilles) | Everton  — OUT: Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (knock), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Bernard (knee)

Wolves finally win, add to Watford’s woes

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Wolverhampton Wanderers secured their first victory of the Premier League season as they beat Watford 2-0 at Molineux on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Matt Doherty scored in the first half and his cross was knocked into his own net by Daryl Janmaat in the second half as Watford improved after the break but couldn’t cope with Wolves’ quality in attack.

The win moves Wolves on to seven points for the season, while Watford have just two and sit bottom.


3 things we learned 

1. Wolves back to their fluid best: Their first goal was reminiscent of last season as Wolves were patient and picked their passes and final ball perfectly. Wolves have struggled early in the season but they showed glimpses that their attacking fluidity is finally returning. The Europa League is a distraction, but any relegation fears Wolves fans had for this season will soon evaporate.

2. Defensive woes continue for Watford: The Hornets were their own worst enemies against Wolves as they failed to follow their runners and just couldn’t keep their shape. They are bottom of the table on one two points and have conceded 20 goals in seven games. This is a big, big project for Quique Sanchez Flores.

3. Lift-off for Nuno: He has hit out at his team, especially for their defensive displays, but Nuno Espirito Santo will be happy after this. His team were far from perfect and sat back a lot in the second half, but they got the job done. This feels like Wolves’ new season can finally get going.

Man of the Match: Matt Doherty – A marauding display from right back as he scored one and set up the other. Doherty was back to the form we saw him in last season. A tireless and selfless display.


Wolves were lively early on as Neto broke free and crossed for Jimenez but the Mexican star couldn’t get on the end of the ball.

Neto did provide an assist moments later as his clever run was picked out following a lovely team move, and his ball to the center of the goal was tapped home by Doherty. A wonderful team goal from Wolves.

Watford really struggled to cope with Wolves’ tempo and wide play, as Adama Traore then looked to have his cross blocked by a hand but no penalty kick was given.

After long stoppages as both Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez went down for Wolves, the game lost its way in the first half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Watford improved in the second half and Rui Patricio was forced to save Holebas’ header and then denied Tom Cleverley with the follow up.

Wolves then put the result beyond doubt as another fine move out wide saw Doherty cross and Morgan Gibbs-White flicked the header into Janmatt who directed the ball into his own net.

Danny Welbeck then forced Patricio into a save but the win was fairly routine for Wolves, as they bagged their first victory of the season.

Wolves snatch late point vs. Burnley

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Raul Jimenez’s penalty seven minutes into stoppage time gave Wolves a point with a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Sunday at the Molineux Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Wolves now have three draws in three matches, while Burnley has four points.


Three things

  1. We’re paying rent in Ashley Barnes‘ world — Known most for his combustible, some-would-say dirty nature, the Burnley striker now has four goals this early season and more than one, including Sunday’s opener, have been bangers.
  2. Nuno’s men could use a break — Wolves fought well, but you can tell the Europa League schedule has heavily taxed their spirit. How tired are they? Here are the thoughts of an exhausted Raul Jimenez, and you can read the “Thank you, God” inside them –> “I think [the penalty] is the right decision. When I get in possession he tried to kick the ball, then he kicked me. It came at a good moment for us.”
  3. Don’t ever bet against Sean Dyche — We’ve written it 100 times. The big man can get a result from anywhere, at any time.

Burnley was easily the better unit over the first 45 minutes, and was rewarded with a goal even after VAR ruled one out.

Barnes chested a neatly-headed flick into shooting position and unleashed a missile that zipped past Rui Patricio for a 1-0 lead.

Both sides began the second half brightly, with Morgan Gibbs-White lashed a shot offf the outside of the netting and Barnes unable to get purchase on a ball over the top of the Wolves back line.

But Erik Pieters cut down Jimenez in the box late to set the Mexican international up for a win.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

UEL Roundup: Wolves thrash Pyunik, and more

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For the second time in as many games, Pyunik was no match for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves dominated throughout and a quick-fire three-goal barrage in the second half gave the Premier League club a 4-0 victory (8-0 on aggregate) over its Armenian opponents, Pyunik, on Thursday at Molineux Stadium. New Wolves signing Pedro Neto scored the opening goal on his Wolves debut, with homegrown star Morgan Gibbs-White scoring his first of the season as well.

After creating numerous chances in the first half, Wolves finally found the breakthrough in the 54th minute. Adama Traore found space down the right side of the box, and he cut back towards the center where Neto slid and re-directed a shot home. Gibbs-White then followed in the 58th minute with a similar finish from four yards out, before Ruben Vinagre fired home from the top of the box in the 64th minute. Diogo Jota put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute to give Wolves a massive European win at home.

With the win, Wolverhampton Wanderers advance to the Europa League Play-Off Round where it will face Torino, one round before the group stage. Matches will be played on the next two Thursdays, August 22 and August 29.


Rangers advance past Midtjylland

While Celtic endured a disappointing defeat on Tuesday night, its rivals Rangers took care of business at home to advance to the final round of qualifying in the Europa League.

Rangers defeated Danish side FC Midtjylland, 3-1, at Ibrox, to win handily, 7-3 on aggregate. Rangers’ Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos scored a pair, as did new signing Sheyi Ojo. Midtjylland grabbed a second-half goal from Evander, but the club needed four more goals just to advance, and it ran out of time.

Rangers advance to face Legia Warsaw in the next round. American right back Matt Polster didn’t make the 18 for the Scottish club.

Here’s a roundup of the rest of the Europa League action from Thursday:

HJK 2 – 2 Riga
Dinamo Tbilisi 1 – 1 Feyenoord
Spartak Moskva 2 – 1 Thun
Sūduva 2 – 1 Maccabi Tel Aviv
BATE 0 – 0 Sarajevo
AIK 1 – 1 Sheriff
Shakhtyor 1 – 1 Torino
Apollon 3 – 1 Austria Wien
Mladá Boleslav 0 – 1 FCSB
Yeni Malatyaspor 1 – 0 Partizan
Zrinjski 1 – 0 Malmö FF
Zorya 1 – 0 CSKA Sofia
Bnei Yehuda 2 – 1 Neftçi
The New Saints 0 – 4 Ludogorets
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 3 – 1 Norrköping
Trabzonspor 2 – 1 Sparta Praha
Valletta 0 – 4 Astana
Viktoria Plzeň 2 – 1 Antwerp AET
AEK Athens  1 – 1 Universitatea
PSV 0 – 0 Haugesund
Aris 3 – 1 Molde AET
Strasbourg 1 – 0 Lokomotiv Plovdiv
AZ 4 – 0 Mariupol’
Gent 3 – 0 AEK Larnaca
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 – 0 Vaduz
Sporting Braga 3 – 1 Brøndby
Rangers 3 – 1 Midtjylland
Aberdeen 0 – 2 Rijeka
Espanyol 3 – 0 Luzern

10 players set for breakout seasons in 2019-20 PL

Photo by Donall Farmer/PA Images via Getty Images
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Every season, a handful of previously unknown — or even unexpected — players turn in performances of the highest quality and find themselves being talked about as the Premier League’s latest “breakout player.”

This will undoubtedly be the case again in 2019-20, but will it be? Here are 10 players primed to reach new heights over the next 10 months…

[ MORE: 2 days to go until new PL season: Is it a 2-horse race again? ]

Miguel Almiron, Newcastle United — Here’s the thing about the former Atlanta United star: he can really play. It didn’t take long for the Paraguayan to flash his skill and promise after moving to Newcastle last January. Now, try to imagine what he can do with a full offseason and preseason under his belt… if only the departure of Rafa Benitez doesn’t derail this freight train.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Mason Mount, Chelsea — With the Blues suffering through a two-window transfer ban, new manager Frank Lampard will have no choice but to rely upon a handful of academy players, beginning with the 20-year-old midfielder with whom he worked at Derby County last season. Eight goals and five assists in a solid haul for a teenager, and Mount has made the most of his every chance this preseason.

Reiss Nelson, Arsenal — After a season on loan at Hoffenheim (seven goals), Nelson faces an uphill battle for playing time in a thoroughly stacked Arsenal attack, but he’s got the complete package, plus the versatility, required to force his way into regular minutes.

Lloyd Kelly, Bournemouth — Smart clubs in the PL’s bottom half will have done extensive scouting on EFL Championship players ready to make the jump to England’s top flight, only to be held back by employment at a smaller club. Lloyd Kelly can play left back and center back, and he was outstanding for Bristol City last season. He’s one of a few potential answers to the question “who’ll be the next $60-million British defender?”

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images)

Max Aarons, Norwich City — How does a PFA Championship Team of the Year, EFL Team of the Season and EFL Player of the Year campaign sound for a potential breakout star? Norwich City’s Max Aarons achieved all of the above last season, at the age of 18 and 19, in his first season as a professional.

Morgan Gibbs-White, Wolverhampton Wanderers — The same age as Aarons, Gibbs-White is already a seasoned professional with three seasons under his belt. Now that Wolves are on the path to the Europa League group stage, Nuno Espirito Santo will be forced to rotate his team far more than last season, and he undoubtedly find that Gibbs-White is a handy option in midfield.

Moise Kean, Everton — Kean is fairly well known among those who follow the rest of Europe somewhat closely, but PL-only fans are in for a real treat when the 19-year-old Italian attacker gets his feet under him at Goodison Park.

Youri Tielemans, Leicester City — How Tielemans tumbled this far down the transfer pyramid (all due respect to Leicester, of course) is truly a mystery. It’s not as though he was unknown in any way, or that he’s untested in the PL (he spent the second half of last season on loan to the Foxes), or that any number of PL club could have used a midfielder of his caliber.

(Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City via Getty Images)

Declan Rice, West Ham United — Sure, Rice announced himself onto the PL stage last season, but 2019-20 feels like the time when he’ll go from “good young player” to “how much will Man City or Liverpool or Man United have to pay for him next summer?” West Ham being more consistent as a team and pushing for top-seven wouldn’t hurt Rice’s stock one bit.

Phil Foden, Manchester City — Is this the year Foden finally pushes his way into Pep Guardiola‘s regular rotation? We’ve been waiting for him to do so for two seasons now, yet he won’t turn 20 years old until after the 2019-20 season ends. Central midfield is still relatively thin at Man City, though that hasn’t stopped Guardiola from refusing to rotate and give Foden chances in the past.