Ryan Bennett

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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 grab draw against stubborn Saints

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Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton battled to a 1-1 draw at Molineux on Saturday, as Danny Ings‘ goal was canceled out by a Raul Jimenez penalty kick.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

After Jimenez had two goals correctly ruled out for offside in the first half, Saints took the lead as Ings made the most of a defensive mistake. However, VAR then confirmed a penalty to Wolves and Jimenez scored amid controversy to grab them a point.

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side have 11 points, while Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Southampton have eight and they’ll be happier with a point than Wolves.


3 things we learned

1. VAR drama gets two correct, one wrong: Jimenez’s two goals in the first half were correctly ruled out by VAR, but a big call in the second half went in Wolves’ favor. The referee awarded a penalty kick when Matt Doherty went down in the box but it looked harsh as Yoshida and Hojbjerg did their best to stay out of the way of the stumbling right wing back. It was harsh on Saints and VAR should have overturned the decision.

2. Ings in fine form for Saints: Danny Ings is perfect for this system under Hasenhuttl. He has now scored goals against Spurs, Liverpool and Wolves by pouncing on defensive errors and Saints’ high-pressing game now had someone who can deliver an end product. Yes, Saints and Ings won’t be happy with not holding on to win this game, but Ings has five goals in his last four games and six for the season. If Ings stays fit, he will keep Southampton in the Premier League.

3. One step forward, two back for Wolves: After beating Watford and Man City back-to-back ahead of the break, Wolves finally got their first wins on the board this season. But they huffed and puffed against Saints and were a little lucky to nick a point. Just like last season, they play better against the big boys and struggled to break down more defensive-minded teams at the bottom of the table. That has to change if Wolves are going to challenge for European qualification once again.

Man of the Match: Raul Jimenez – He got his goal from the penalty spot, had two others disallowed and his constant clever movement, dropping deep and holding the ball up caused Saints many issues. Mexico’s striker ended his mini-drought and played superbly well.


It was all Wolves early as Joao Moutinho fired just over and Saints couldn’t get going as an attacking force.

Raul Jimenez thought he had given Wolves the lead but he handled the ball when controlling and then scored, but VAR was then used as he was handed a yellow card.

Wolves’ Ryan Bennett had to come off injured and Jesus Vallejo replaced him, as Nuno Espirito Santo was forced to reshuffle his defense.

Saints improved as the first half wore on with Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond causing Wolves problems, as the former was played in by the latter but Conor Coady blocked.

Wolves thought they had taken the lead once again just before the break as Jimenez scored after Cutrone’s flicked effort goalwards was pushed away by Angus Gunn. Despite Wolves’ celebrations, VAR again denied the goal in what was the correct decision.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half Saints had a great chance to take the lead as Vallejo gave the ball away and Ings was through on goal but his low shot was tame and Rui Patricio saved.

Ings did then put Southampton ahead, as the in-form striker finished well after Vallejo and Coady got themselves in a mess and Saints made the most of it.

But Saints’ lead didn’t last long, as Wolves were awarded a penalty kick as Doherty went down after a tangle with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. After VAR was used, the penalty was given and Jimenez scored to make it 1-1, but Southampton were far from happy with the decision.

James Ward-Prowse saw a free kick saved well and neither team pushed too hard for the win late on as a draw was probably a fair result.

Wolves run past off-kilter Man City

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Manchester City just couldn’t catch Adama Traore.

The speedster finished twice on the break off Raul Jimenez assists, as Wolves collected a surprising 2-0 win over Man City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves had two fewer days’ rest than their hosts, but flummoxed City with stifling defense and flair on the counter.

City is eight points back of leaders Liverpool, while Wolves are up to 11th with 10 points. This is the first time City has seen Liverpool’s lead stretch beyond the six points they’ll due for later this season.


Three things we learned

1. Furious Pep has no answers: Wolves keeper Rui Patricio had a fine day between the sticks, but City rarely sent true trouble the way of the visitors’ goal. David Silva cranked a free kick off the bar, but City looked like the team on a day’s shorter rest. Visibly angry, Guardiola couldn’t conjure up production without Kevin De Bruyne.

2. Traore does his job after Wolves miss early chance: The visitors were easily the better side in the first 15 minutes, catching City off guard, but Patrick Cutrone and Raul Jimenez each failed in bids to make it 1-0 to Wolves.

Jimenez, however, answered the bell on an 80th minute counter attack with strong dribbling and a pass to Traore, who waited patiently for his chance to poke past Ederson. Traore added another off a slick Jimenez pass, but had a lot more work to do in beating Ederson. Remarkable.

3. Frustrated City lives in the book: The two-time reigning Premier League champions were shown five yellow cards on the day, as Wolves tactics helped the visitors live in the heads of the heavily-favored hosts.

Man of the Match: Traore


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Patrick Cutrone couldn’t chip a fine opportunity on goal as Wolves earned a surprise chance in the first five minutes.

An injury to Romain Saiss caused an early delay and the 13th minute introduction of Ryan Bennett.

Riyad Mahrez made a miserable giveaway from the attacking third, sending Cutrone on a long break toward goal.  But Fernandinho slid to block a first shot then bravely stopped the rebound with his head to keep it 0-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Kyle Walker tried his luck from distance before halftime, and Rui Patricio collected the ball rather than risk it sneak off the post and into the goal.

David Silva curled a free kick off the bar soon after the match entered its final half hour.

Wolves patiently waited for their chance and got it via counter attack, as Mexican star Jimenez did a lot of work to set up patient Traore for a 1-0 lead with just over 10 minutes to go in Manchester.

Jimenez’s outside-of-the-boot pass to spring Traore for the comforting second goal was delightful, and the Spaniard had plenty to do on a 50-yard run toward his brace.

Everton shoots past Wolves in thriller

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Richarlison scored a pair of goals as Everton overcame a pair of Wolves equalizers in a 3-2 win at Goodison Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Alex Iwobi scored Everton’s other goal in a game which saw three goals in the first 12 minutes. Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez scored for Wolves, who fall to 3D-1L on the season.

Everton climbs into fifth, with seven points.


Four things we learned

1. Inspired Richarlison special — Make it three goals in four days for the Brazilian, who netted in a midweek win over Lincoln City. Scoring against Wolves is a bit more difficult, and Richarlison did it in style. His second, a powerful well-timed header, shows the elite caliber of his attributes. He now has five goals in two Augusts with the Toffees.

2. Everton breached, but pleased — Yes, the Toffees can allow goals at home. Multiple! But credit to Marco Silva‘s men for twice rebounding from equalizers in quick fire fashion. Now the Toffees can enter the break with a look at the Top Six spot they crave, albeit far from the 12 of 12 points they envisioned from a straight-forward start to the season.

3. Brave Raul’s status in question for USMNT — Mexican star striker Raul Jimenez put it all on the line in scoring Wolves’ equalizer, taking a boot to the face after heading his second half goal. The 28-year-old has eight goals in 10 matches this season.

4. Defending stars struggle — Willy Boly might’ve had an assist, but he was bad at the back and took a silly stoppage time yellow card to earn a red and suspension; Lucas Digne has been electric for Everton but had a day to forget, turned by Traore on Wolves’ first goal and lucky to escape punishment for his wayward clearing attempt that ended Jimenez’s day… on a play that resulted in a goal anyway.

Man of the Match: Richarlison — On his day, there are few if any better big wingers in the world.


Richarlison’s goal came inside of five minutes, as Rui Patricio panicked after Conor Coady waved him near and then passed it inside the six.

The ball came free to the Brazilian, who bounded a shot into the top of the goal.

The didn’t last long, with Adama Traore turning Lucas Digne and sending the ball through the six for a Saiss tap-in.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Sigurdssson and Iwobi restored the hosts’ lead in the 12th minute, the Icelandic playmaker hitting a pinpoint cross and the Nigerian goal scorer rising to plant an ideal header in the back of the net.

Moise Kean worked his way into the dialogue and nearly won a penalty were it not for an immaculately-timed tackle from Ryan Bennett.

Jimenez tied the game but lost his place in it when he headed a Willy Boly flick home just before the boot of Lucas Digne smashed him in the face.

Boly went from joy to anguish within moments, as Richarlison climbed over his French marker to restore Everton’s advantage.

Richarlison forced an incredible save out of Rui Patricio moments later, and the Portuguese backstop did well to slap a Yerry Mina header away in the 87th minute.

Watch Live: Wolves v. Man United

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Manchester United travels to Monlieux to take on their boogy team as Wolverhampton Wanderers look to make it four straight without a loss against the Red Devils across all competitions (Watch live, 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

The last time Manchester United beat Wolves was in 2012 when they won 5-0 at Monlieux in a season that saw Wolves eventually relegated. They were winless in all three matches against Wolves last season, including two in Premier League action and one in domestic cup play. To end that drought, they’ll need to break a Wolves streak of eight consecutive top-flight matches unbeaten at home, making their midlands ground a fortress of late.

WATCH WOLVES v. MAN UNITED LIVE ONLINE HERE

To help snap the streak, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has handed winger Daniel James a full debut, coming into the side in place of Andreas Pereira as the only change from the team that topped Chelsea 4-0 to begin the season. Juan Mata stays stuck on the bench, while Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial all spearhead the attack alongside James. Paul Pogba again partners with Scott McTominay in midfield to reprise a duo that was fabulous against the Blues. Alexis Sanchez remains out of the squad, although Solskjaer confirmed he is “close” to a return.

For Wolves, they deploy an unchanged side from the opening day draw with Leicester City. Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez are back leading the lines after being rested midweek for their Europa League win over Pyunik. Nuno again deploys a 5-3-2, with wingers Johnny and Matt Doherty serving as wing-backs along the three central defenders in Connor Coady, Wily Boly, and Ryan Bennett.


LINEUPS

Wolves XI: Patricio; Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Jonny; Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho; Jota, Jimenez.
Subs: Ruddy, Neto, Cutrone, Gibbs-White, Saiss, Vinagre, Traore.

Man United XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Romero, Tuanzebe, Pereira, Mata, Matic, Greenwood.