Getty Images

Preview and Prediction: 4 Premier League sides meet in FA Cup semifinals

Leave a comment

Four Premier League sides are all that remain in the FA Cup as the semifinals get under way Saturday and Sunday.

Manchester City meets Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, with Watford v. Wolverhampton to contest the second meeting a day later. The winners of both matches will meet in the final at Wembley Stadium on May 18.

The first match up features Pep Guardiola looking to keep his side in the running for the unprecedented quadruple. In addition to the FA Cup still in play, City has already won the League Cup, trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by two points with a game in hand, and begin Champions League quarterfinals against Tottenham midweek.

For Brighton, the Seagulls have been to one Cup final in the club’s history, back in 1983 when they reached the FA Cup final, losing to Manchester United at Wembley. They fell 2-0 to Manchester City in this season’s only meeting so far, way back in late September in the midst of Man City’s incredible start to the season.

To make matters even more daunting for Brighton, they will have to contend with a near-fully fit Manchester City squad. Other than long-term injuries to Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy, the only injuries for City is a knock to Fabian Delph and a new hamstring injury for Olkesandr Zinchenko. Sergio Aguero is back from his slight knock, but might not start the match.

Prediction: While Brighton is a much different side from when these two teams met back in September, Manchester City is not. They are still as dominant as ever, and the healthy squad has enough players to rotate through the four competitions and still maintain its edge. City wins 3-0.

On Sunday, Watford meets Wolverhampton Wanderers for the second time this season, with the first meeting also back in the fall. Watford won 2-0 in a game that began Wolves’ ugly six-game slide. Wolves will head to Vicarage Road a very different team than on that October day, fighting for a Europa League position and having stunned Manchester United twice over the last few weeks.

Starting Sunday, these two teams will be seeing enough of each other over the final few weeks of the campaign. While they still have a Premier League fixture remaining as well, they’re both battling hard for a Europa League position, separated by just a single point in the table. Winning the FA Cup would go a long way towards easing that burden, but should neither make it, the battle to the finish line will be bitter, and this meeting could be the warm up for that game on April 27 back here at Vicarage Road yet again.

Wolves brings a squad with them that won’t be phased by the bright lights, with the internationally experienced Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio leading the way along with stars Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota who have Champions League games under their belts. They also have a completely clean bill of health, a valuable asset heading into a pressure-filled run-in to the season. Watford will be without Tom Cleverley due to a hamstring injury, while Roberto Pereyra is a game-time decision after coming off against Fulham.

It’s been a while for both these clubs, with Watford last reaching Wembley in this competition in 1984, their only time having done so. Wolves last made an FA Cup final 1960, and they’ve lost four in a row at this stage.

Prediction: This is a fascinating matchup between two equally talented teams. Wolves has the experience advantage, but Watford is at home. This one goes to penalties after a 1-1 draw, and Wolves keeps its cool and comes out on top in the shootout.

PL Friday Preview: West Ham, Watford looking to stay in top ten

Getty an Apple vitamin pakced
Leave a comment

European competition next season may be out of reach, but a top-ten finish for West Ham and Watford is a distinct possibility as we head towards the home stretch of the regular season. This week of Premier League action is kicked off with a London derby between West Ham and Fulham and Watford visiting Cardiff City.

[READ: The 2 Robbies discuss Man City and Liverpool in the Champions League]

West Ham v. Fulham — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

One notable name that has been missing from West Ham’s lineup all season could finally be back in the gameday squad. Manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed that Argentine international Manuel Lanzini, along with Samir Nasri, could both feature in West Ham’s match against Fulham on Friday. The 26-year-old midfielder has been out ever since suffering a devastating ACL injury while in World Cup training camp with Argentina.

Whether he’s ready to go 90 minutes is unclear, but West Ham certainly needs him. The squad has lost five consecutive matches in all competitions, with just four goals scored. The strikers haven’t been able to finish very well recently, but the lack of a creative midfielder has really hurt the Irons in the most important sectors of the field.

Fulham meanwhile are in serious trouble with just 12 matches remaining. Fulham is eight points behind Cardiff City in the top spot outside of the relegation zone.

INJURIES: West Ham —  OUT: Jack Wilshere (ankle); PROBABLE: Samir Nasri (calf) | Fulham — OUT: None; PROBABLE: None


Cardiff City v. Watford — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Watford enacted a little bit of revenge last week after defeating former manager Marco Silva and Everton. This week, it’s arguably a tougher task.

Cardiff City supporters have helped will their team to three-straight victories, after the tragic plane crash carrying footballer Emiliano Sala. Cardiff has poked its head out of the relegation zone, and will be desperate for another home victory. Watford, meanwhile, is looking to solidify a place in the Premier League’s top ten.

Interestingly, all ten of Watford’s wins this season have come with Abdoulaye Doucoure in the starting eleven.

INJURIES: Cardiff City —  OUT: None; PROBABLE: None | Watford — OUT: Kiko Femenia (hamstring); PROBABLE: Roberto Pereyra (hamstring), Isaac Success (hamstring), Sebastian Prödl (hamstring and knee)

Watford comes back to win at Crystal Palace (video)

Leave a comment
  • Cathcart own goal puts Palace ahead
  • Redemption for Cathcart makes it 1-1
  • Substitute Cleverley with rare goal to win it

Craig Cathcart scored for both sides, including an equalizer for his Hornets, as Watford beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Tom Cleverley scored Watford’s other goal as Javi Gracia‘s men used the comeback to climb into seventh with 32 points.

Palace stays in 14th place with 22 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford hit consecutive posts in consecutive seconds through Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra, and will be wishing they did the same in their own end.

Palace went ahead of a wild goal mouth scramble that finished with Abdoulaye Doucoure smashing the ball off Craig Cathcart and into his own goal.

The Eagles could’ve gone ahead 2-0 when Luka Milivojevic‘s shot through traffic was blocked by the hand of a Watford man and was caught by Ben Foster, but no call arrived at Selhurst Park.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Cathcart will have been pleased to reverse his o.g., even if he knew little about the first. This one had plenty of intent, a header over Wayne Hennessey with a little more than 20 minutes to play.

If you had Cleverley as your match-winner, well, that was an odd wager. He scored his second goal in the last two and a half seasons, the substitute potting a loose ball.

Palace fought hard for an equalizer, but Watford kept its spacing and managed a number of interventions in its own box.

Bournemouth, Watford draw in six-goal thriller

Leave a comment
  • 5 goals scored in 13 first half minutes
  • Bournemouth fight back from 2-0 down
  • No win in three for Watford, Bournemouth

Bournemouth and Watford drew 3-3 at the Vitality Stadium Wednesday, as the Cherries and Hornets shared six goals in an incredible first half.

Watford went 2-0 up as Troy Deeney scored twice, but Bournemouth then scored twice through Nathan Ake and Callum Wilson to make it 2-2. Soon after Ken Sema put Watford 3-2 up, but then Ryan Fraser made it 3-3 with five goals scored in just 12 first half minutes.

The second half saw both teams have chances to win it, but a draw was a fair result in an entertaining encounter. With the point Bournemouth are in 12th on 27 points, while Watford climb to eighth on 29 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Jefferson Lerma lashed a shot over from the edge of the box as Bournemouth started well, but Watford were soon ahead. Abdoulaye Doucoure surged forward from midfield and found Sema on the right. His cross was attacked by Deeney who sent a header into the net.

David Brooks then went close to an equalizer as Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson combined to set him up, but Ben Foster kept out Brooks.

Watford then went 2-0 up as Dan Gosling gave it away to Gerard Deulofeu and the Spaniard then went on a rampaging 40-yard run. Eventually the ball found its way to Deeney who slotted home his and Watford’s second of the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Doucoure then curled a shot inches over as the Hornets dominated, but Bournemouth pulled two goals back quickly. Steve Cook‘s header across goal was headed on target by Gosling and despite Foster saving, Ake was on hand to make it 2-1. Game on.

Then Wilson nodded home another set piece to make it 2-2. But there was time for another few goals before half time, as Sema drilled in a low shot for his first PL goal to make it 3-2. But moments later Stanislas squared for Fraser to slot home and make it 3-3.

Josh King almost made it 4-3 right on half time but headed wide, as both teams looked like scoring every time they went forward. Amongst all of that Doucoure should have been sent off for lunging in on Fraser as Watford were lucky to keep 10 men on the pitch.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half the scoring inevitably slowed down, but Wilson almost scored from another set piece.

A long free kick into the box found the Bournemouth striker and his powerful head was right at Foster who acrobatically pushed the ball over.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Foster then denied King brilliantly as Bournemouth pushed hard for the winner, and at the other end Cook lunged in for a wonderful last-ditch tackle as Roberto Pereyra was in on goal.

Deulofeu then curled just wide as Watford cranked up the pressure late on, as Tom Cleverely wanted a penalty kick after his the ball was handled by Ake in the box but nothing was given.

The game ended 3-3 after a thrilling first half blitz.

Hosts Watford snare late point v. Newcastle United

Leave a comment
  • Magpies claim 4 of 6 pts from Hornets
  • Super sub Doucoure scores
  • Dubravka makes several big saves
  • Rondon opens scoring

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Salomon Rondon traded goals as Watford came back to draw Newcastle United 1-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The point keeps Newcastle 15th with 18 points, while Watford is ninth with 28 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Isaac Success won an early dangerous free kick for Watford, but the wall did its job in the face of Gerard Deulofeu‘s effort.

Salomon Rondon had the ball in the goal but was defied by a tight offside call before a chance at the other end; Deulofeu found himself 1v1 with Martin Dubravka in the 16th minute, but the Newcastle keeper made a fine block to keep the match scoreless.

Newcastle took the lead in the 29th minute, as Christian Atsu slid Matt Ritchie down the left wing and Rondon headed the Scot’s cross past Ben Foster for 1-0.

Rondon had another in the goal, but was offside again. He’d have a hat trick if not for the arcane rule.

Dubravka saved a Success rip from distance as the Hornets looked to get it level before the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mohamed Diame gave away a free kick on the edge of the 18 in the 46th minute, but Roberto Pereyra‘s hit was blocked by the wall.

Doucoure gave the hosts a goal in the 82nd minute, as Deulofeu’s cross was headed past Dubravka.

Rondon laid the ball down for a DeAndre Yedlin shot in the final five minutes, but the American’s vicious effort was off frame.

Doucoure and Success both missed chances to win it late for the hosts, who next travel to Bournemouth. Newcastle hosts Manchester United in its next fixture.