Philip Billing

Watford soars past miserable Bournemouth

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Abdoulaye Doucoure had a goal and an assist as Watford leapt out of the drop zone with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra also scored and Ismaila Sarr was a constant threat for the Hornets.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford has four wins inside of a five-match unbeaten run under Nigel Pearson and moves 17th with 22 points.

That’s two points better than the Cherries, who sit 19th with 20 points.


Three things we learned

1. Sarr shows what got him to Watford: Senegalese youngster Sarr has experienced in an uneven start to life in the Premier League, but there have been plenty of positives. Last season saw Sarr become a double-digit goal and assist man at Stade Rennais, earning a splashy move to the Hornets.

Sarr’s steal and terrific assist put Watford up 1-0, and he did the lion’s share of the lifting on the second. He entered the day with four goals and two assists in around 1000 minutes for Watford. At his best, Sarr is making himself a huge threat on the other side of Gerard Deulofeu (even if he looks dejected to come off in the 83rd minute).

2. Ice cold Wilson, snake bit Fraser killing Cherries: Callum Wilson had another rough outing to stretch a brutal run into mid-January. He finished a run of five goals in four Premier League matches on Sept. 28. His only goal or assist since that run came against Luton Town in the FA Cup last week. He had 15 and 10 last season.

Ryan Fraser is also struggling, though the effort and craft remain on display sans end product. Fraser was one of the few Cherries to show up on Sunday but has a goal and just three assists this season and nothing since Nov. 23. Last season? Eight and 15.

3. Deputy Travers gets no help : A minor injury suffered by 21-year-old Aaron Ramsdale led to an even younger starting goalkeeper for Bournemouth. Irish backstop Mark Travers got the call, his first PL match of the season after starting in all three of the Cherries’ cup outings. He kept a clean sheet against Spurs in his PL debut last season but then conceded five times in the season finale. It was more of the latter than the former in his two-save Sunday, as Travers gave the ball away a few touches before Watford’s opener.

Man of the Match: Doucoure, Sarr, Deeney, and Etienne Capoue were the standouts for Watford, and Doucoure was ready to go from Moment No. 1 to get our nod.


Ismaila Sarr raced down the right wing off a Bournemouth giveaway, but his touch put him out wide and his ball toward the back post was wide and absent receiver.

At the other end, a long Harry Wilson drive took two turns before Ben Foster recovered it to stifle the threat.

In-form Gerard Deulofeu forced a fine save out of young goalkeeper Mark Travers, who saw the ensuing corner nodded wide of the frame.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Bournemouth had plenty of the play, but Watford went ahead through a Travers giveaway quickly turned into a goal by Sarr and Doucoure.

The game lifted a bit for the Cherries upon the introduction of Philip Billing and Lewis Cook, but Deeney shut it down with an arrow into the back of the net following incredible work from Sarr.

Deulofeu led a break that ended with a Travers save of a Deeney bounded shot.

The Hornets put it to bed when Andre Gray saw his shot cleared off the line and Pereyra settled the rebound and slotted home.

FA Cup: Wolves and Man United draw as Man City, Leicester advance

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Premier League clubs like Aston Villa and Brighton Hove & Albion were dumped out of the FA Cup earlier in the day, but top flight sides had no troubles in the late slate as Manchester City, Bournemouth, and Leicester City all progressed to the fourth round of the competition, while Manchester United and Wolverhampton slogged through a scoreless draw that will require a replay at Old Trafford to decide.

[ FA CUP: Villa & Brighton fall | Newcastle held ]

Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers both had a few chances, but produced an otherwise cagey match at Monlieux in a 0-0 draw. Sergio Romero made his presence known with a fabulous reflex save on Matt Doherty on an effort that seemed to wrong-foot the Argentina goalkeeper, but he poked out his right hand to palm away the shot. Manchester United had a penalty shout, but Leander Dendoncker‘s tackle of Brandon Williams was waved off by both the on-field referee and by VAR despite replay showing some dubious contact.

Both teams had big chances in the second half. Manchester United nearly went in front with 20 minutes to go but substitute Marcus Rashford‘s effort was blocked by Connor Coady and while the looping deflection got over John Ruddy, it clanged harmlessly away off the crossbar. In the 77th minute Ruben Neves off the bench headed into the back of the net but was correctly ruled out as the effort came first off his head then his arm. Raul Jimenez then hit the post from an incredibly tight angle with nine minutes to go.

[ FA CUP: Norwich cruises | Burnley rolls ]

Manchester City survived a slight scare to top Port Vale 4-1. The defending Premier League champs scored first, with Oleksandr Zinchenko firing in via a huge deflection off Leon Legge that helped an otherwise speculative long-range effort. Despite the sudden ejection of life for the visitors at the Etihad, Sergio Aguero restored the lead with a tap-in at the far post, and Phil Foden‘s work in the build-up survived a VAR review.

17-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis put Man City 3-1 up in the 58th minute that also passed a VAR check, and Foden was the man to cap off the scoreline with City’s fourth goal.

[ FA CUP: Watford gacks 3-0 lead to Tranmere ]

Leicester City benefitted from a weird early own-goal to take the lead on Wigan Athletic, and that provided the springboard for a 2-0 win as Harvey Barnes found the back of the net for some breathing room before halftime. Wigan’s Tom Pearce somehow bungled in a Marc Albrighton cross with what looked like a striker’s finish to put Leicester City 1-0 up 19 minutes in. Barnes doubled the lead before halftime on the counter thanks again to a deflection, this time off Cheyenne Dunkley.

Philip Billing volleyed home a whipped Diego Rico cross to give the Cherries the early lead eight minutes in, and they finished with a storming 4-0 victory after it was all said and done. Callum Wilson put the game away on 67 minutes after a Luton defensive mistake as the hosts had no issues at Dean Court, with Billing grabbing a second and Dominic Solanke putting the cherry on top.

In an all-League One matchup, Portsmouth got a pair of goals from James Bolton and Marcus Myers-Harness in a five-minute span to down Fleetwood Town 2-1 on the road.

Watch Live: Brighton v. Bournemouth

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Brighton and Hove Albion host Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NNCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive South Coast derby at the Amex Stadium.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE 

The Seagulls and Cherries have both been sucked into the relegation battle after poor recent results and the two young, ambitious managers in Graham Potter and Eddie Howe know their teams have to start improving defensively.

In team news Brighton make seven changes from their loss at Tottenham with Lewis Dunk, Neal Maupay, Yves Bissouma, Leandro Trossard, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Martin Montoya and Davy Propper coming in.

Bournemouth make five changes from their draw with Arsenal as Sergio Rico, Harry Wilson, Philip Billing, Junior Stanislas and Dominic Solanke start.

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Rodriguez goal pushes Burnley past Bournemouth on dreary day

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Jay Rodriguez scored at the death as Burnley won one a dreary match over Bounremouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

His header of an Ashley Westwood cross was the game’s lone shot on target, as Burnley moves 10th with 24 points.

The Cherries fail to build on their win over Chelsea and are four points clear of the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Teams embody the weather: On a cold, rainy December day, the Clarets and Cherries were more interested in projecting their misery on the opposition than playing any sort of football. Bournemouth passed at 77 percent, the visitors barely completing more than half of their passes (58%).

2. This was a bad game: Thirty-four fouls, one shot on target.

3. Bournemouth playing with fire: Eddie Howe‘s Cherries are one of the best stories in English football, but have been very poor this season. Losing matches like this at home isn’t just below them, it’s handing three points to a team in a similar predicament. Right now, Bournemouth’s best Fortune comes in the form of struggling Watford, Norwich City, and Aston Villa.

Man of the Match: Philip Billing was quite good in defeat again, but he was a bit lucky not to be sent off.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

It wouldn’t be dramatic to say that the entertainment level of the first half was nil, two sides coming off wins and hesitant to try much.

The hour mark saw little improvement, with 22 fouls meeting and four yellow cards out-performing the zero shots on target.

Philip Billing avoided a red card despite a VAR review, maybe the only moment of action before Rodriguez headed home in the 89th minute.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 15

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The congested schedule means we’ve had two match days since we last took stock of the Premier League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

We’ve got a brand new Top Five (well, in terms of the four behind eventual champions Liverpool) and two teams dipping to season lows on our ol’ litmus test.

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

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Watford — As many losses as goals (9), and that figure is one more than the Hornets’ total points. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them on the verge of full-time manager No. 3, as full-time manager of Watford is a bit more like seasonal help.
Last week: 18
Season high: 17
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Crystal Palace

19. Everton — A top half team in terms of talent seeks the manager who can organize its way out of the drop zone. Might it be this guy? Better than the alternatives.
Last week: 17
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 5-2 at Liverpool
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Chelsea

18. Norwich City — The first team to 10 losses is four points shy of 17th.
Last week: 16
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Southampton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Sheffield United

17. West Ham United — A gigantic ball of “blah.” Should thank Everton for existing so people aren’t more focused on this particular collection of currently squandered talent.
Last week: 20
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Wolves
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Arsenal

16. Bournemouth — It’s just not good enough, is it? To have held onto Callum Wilson and get another step up in class from Philip Billing and still be so wildly inconsistent.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

15. Southampton — It really feels like the Danny Ings revival show could rival any story for the best individual one in the league this season. Happy to see Ralph Hasenhuttl get some good performances, as he was being scapegoated in a hurry.
Last week: 19
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Newcastle United

14. Aston Villa — Allowing a league-worst 18.8 shots per game, but staying in the mix thanks to Tom Heaton and Tyrone Mings.
Last week: 13
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Chelsea
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester City

13. Arsenal — The Gunners back line gets a lot of heat, and rightly so, but maybe a little help from the midfield would be nice considering Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz have combined for 39 blocks. Sokratis is third in the PL and Luiz fourth.
Last week: 12
Season high: 4
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at West Ham United


12. Brighton and Hove Albion — First win ever away to Arsenal is another feather in the cap of Graham Potter, especially nice considering they had lost four on the bounce.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 2-1 at Arsenal
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

11. Newcastle United — No one is punching above its weight more than Steve Bruce‘s Magpies, and they’ve been aided in a big way by Martin Dubravka. The Slovakian goalkeeper has a league-best 44 saves from shots inside the 18.

Also, according to Understat’s xG numbers, they should’ve lost to the Blades. In fat, the xG table says they should be dead last. Life’s funny like that. It’s Steve Bruce’s world and we’re living in it.
Last week: 15
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-0 at Sheffield United
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Southampton

https://understat.com/match/11786

10. Sheffield United — Just lost for the first time since September. That’s amazing.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Newcastle United
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Norwich City

9. Burnley — Striker Chris Wood has been credited with 12 “big chances missed” by Sofascore, more than any player in the league.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 4-1 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. Saturday at Spurs

8. Spurs — Jose Mourinho learned Wednesday that Moussa Sissoko is nice for the squad, but not to be leaned on.

Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Manchester United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

7. Crystal Palace — Wilfried Zaha‘s 68 dribbles are 13 more than anyone else in the league.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Watford

6. Manchester United — Ole had himself a moment in outfoxing Mourinho without Pogba or Martial.
Last week: 8
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Spurs
Up next: 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Man City

5. Chelsea — We told you, Frank. WE TOLD YOU.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Everton

4. Manchester City — Aymeric Laporte is still two months away and that’s two months too long.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 4-1 at Burnley
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Manchester United

3. Wolves — This is going to sound nuts, but there are days I’d rather see Liverpool on my schedule than Wolves. The Reds are obviously better weaponized, but Wolves come at you in waves, man, and Nuno Espirito Santo is doing it without his best center back.
Last week: 5
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-0 v. West Ham United
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Brighton and Hove Albion

2. Leicester City — How’s this for an unsustainable stat? Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira rank first and second in the league in tackles, with 67 and 62.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Watford
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Aston Villa
1. Liverpool — Big Virgil Van Dijk is on track to become the first Premier League player to complete 1000 passes this season, currently at 953.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 5-2 v. Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Bournemouth