Sofiane Boufal

Djenepo magic leads Saints past Sheffield United

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Southampton beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane on Saturday, as a thrilling end-to-end game was decided by a moment of magic from Moussa Djenepo.

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In his first Premier League start the Mali winger, a summer arrival from Standard Liege, danced past several Blades defenders before slotting home the winner in the second half, as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Saints completed back-to-back away wins for the first time since March 2017.

Sheffield United had former Saints striker Billy Sharp, who came on as a sub, sent off late on as they huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a way past Angus Gunns and a resolute Saints defense.

With the win Saints now have seven points on the board and they are unbeaten in four games in all competitions, while Sheffield United are without a win since the second week of the season.

3 things we learned

1. Djenepo the difference: It is too early to say that Djenepo is finally Saints’ replacement for Sadio Mane, but it is not too early to say he will be a very important play for Southampton this season. He danced past several tackles after showing his strength to score a brilliant solo goal and that is his second stunning strike in as many games. Djenepo was the difference and for a Saints side looking to shore things up defensively, they have to make the most of their chances at the other end.

2. Saints still haven’t found correct formation: This wasn’t a great display from Southampton though. they looked disjointed as Hasenhuttl tinkered with the formation once again, with Djenepo, Cedric and Hojbjerg all looking like they played at left wing-back at times. Defensively Bednarek and Vestergaard have improved and one goal conceded in the last four games in all competitions points to that. But Saints don’t quite know their best formation yet, even though they are proving tough to beat.

3. Blades not sharp enough: David McGoldrick had some great chances and Ollie McBurnie had a goal disallowed as the Blades were blunted for the first time this season. Chris Wilder‘s side fly forward at every opportunity and gave it their all, but they just looked a little sluggish as Saints snapped into tackles in midfield and cleared crosses into the box. Sheffield United are a dangerous side to play against, but they didn’t have their shooting boots with them on Saturday.

Man of the Match: Moussa Djenepo – The winger has pace, power and trickery and looks like being a bargain buy at $18 million. Djenepo is 21 years old and has the potential to be Saints’ main goalscoring threat this season. Of course, he will be linked with plenty of big clubs if he keeps this form up, but right now it seems like Southampton have unearthed another gem.


Saints started well and Vestergaard got a header on goal which was saved comfortably by Dean Henderson.

A wild few seconds then saw former Sheffield United striker Adams smash a beautiful effort against the post and moments later David McGoldrick was put clean through but Angus Gunn stood his ground to make a superb stop.

The Blades finally got going before half time as John Fleck nodded over and they were causing plenty of problems down their right flank. However, Saints almost caught them on the break as Cedric somehow slotted wide from a great position.

In a lively first half Adams went close again as his header was saved by Henderson, then the Blades caused Saints all kinds of issues with their crosses into the box. Southampton continued to look dangerous on the break as Sofiane Boufal was set up perflectly by Moussa Djenepo but his tame effort was a huge let-off for the home side.

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The Blades thought they had taken the lead at the start of the second half but McBurnie was offside as he tapped home Oliver Norwood‘s free kick to the back post.

Saints improved as the second half played out with Boufal and Djenepo getting on the ball in dangerous areas in the final third time and time again.

Djenepo did the business as Boufal once again won the ball back, then Djenepo fought off a defender, dribbled past a couple more and slotted home superbly to make it 1-0.

Late on Sheffield United chucked everything at Saints with plenty of balls into the box, as McGoldrick smashed a great chance over the bar.

Substitute Billy Sharp was then sent off for a lunging tackle on Stuart Armstrong as the Blades finished the game with 10 men and couldn’t find an equalizer.

10-man Saints frustrate Man United

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Southampton held on to draw 1-1 against Manchester United at St Mary’s, as they dug deep after going down to 10 men.

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Daniel James gave United the lead but Jannik Vestergaard equalized and United have now failed to win any of their last eight away games in all competitions.

Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men had Kevin Danso sent off with 20 minutes to go but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s United couldn’t break them down and had to settle for a point.

Saints have four points for the season, while United have five points as they head into the international break.


3 things we learned

1. United’s lack of control alarming: The way United failed to grab this game by the scruff of the neck sums up where they are at right now. After scoring early to take the lead, they sat back and Paul Pogba‘s sloppy passing epitomized their disjointed approach. Defensively they were solid enough, but Marcus Rashford didn’t get into the game at all and there is still no real identity to this young United side.

2. Saints’ high press tough to handle: Early on in both halves Southampton forced United back and their intense high-pressing couldn’t be matched. Hasenhuttl’s side look fit after a full preseason under his tutelage and even though they didn’t keep the ball well when they won it back, they got in the faces of United and it worked a treat.

3. Daniel James a menace: Three goals in his first four Premier League games is a great return for the Welsh 21-year-old. Aside from his goals, James’ pace causes so many issues and had he been a little more composed in the second half he could have scored a winner. What a bargain buy he is.

Man of the Match: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Superb one-on-one defending against Boufal, and a threat going forward. Another superb display from United’s new right back, who looked confident after his first-ever England call up.


Saints started well as Sofiane Boufal flashed a shot inches wide, but Man United took the lead against the run of play.

James was found on the edge of the box by Scott McTominay and then cut inside and smashed a shot into the far top corner to make it 1-0.

United were rampant for the rest of the first half as James forced Angus Gunn into a smart save, Wan-Bissaka flashed an effort over and Rashford was growing into the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Saints improved and Boufal set up Che Adams but he smashed over from a great position.

Saints did level as Danny Ings‘ header was saved by David De Gea but Kevin Danso then whipped in a superb cross that Vestergaard nodded home to send the home fans wild.

United were then handed a lifeline as Danso was shown a second yellow card for a cynical challenge on McTominay and Saints played the final 15 minutes with 10 men.

James shanked two efforts off target as United pushed for a winner, with Jesse Lingard, Mason Greenwood and Ashley Young going close.

Saints held on to frustrate United as Solskjaer’s side continue to look disjointed.

Watch Live: Southampton v. Man United

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Southampton host Manchester United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in an intriguing clash at St Mary’s Stadium.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints have three points on the board, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United have four but that doesn’t tell the whole story so far as both teams will be a little disappointed with their points tallies to date.

Both teams have plenty of injuries to deal with as they square off on the South Coast and they’ve shuffled their lineups accordingly.

In team news Saints bring in Sofiane Boufal for the injured Nathan Redmond, while Cedric replaces Yan Valery.

United make three changes as Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira come into the lineup.

LINEUPS

Djenepo stunner downs Brighton after Andone straight red

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It wasn’t that long ago that these two teams faced off in League One…nine years ago, to be exact. Now, both Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion are established top flight sides and looking to build.

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One of those building blocks for Southampton is young Mali international Moussa Djenepo who announced himself to the Premier League on Saturday with a thumping second-half goal that put Southampton through against 10-man Brighton 2-0, with Nathan Redmond adding the second late as Brighton was caught forward for an equalizer.

The win gave Southampton its first points of the campaign, while Brighton was dropped for the first time in the new season.

The Seagulls were the better side until Florin Andone earned a deserved sending-off for a horror challenge on Yan Valery. Dan Burn had the ball in the back of the net but VAR ruled it out for offside, and the halftime break saw Southampton regroup with the advantage and take charge for the final 45 minutes. Brighton, however, did have spells of possession throughout the second half that will worry Southampton supporters moving forward given the man and scoreline advantage.


Three things we learned:

  1. Brighton looks more dangerous than last season going forward, a positive sign for those who saw the Seagulls struggle to score last season. Before the red, they were by far the better side, and even after falling a man down they had moments of positivity despite being forced back. Graham Potter refused to bunker in after the red, something supporters will appreciate, and they had chances to get back in the game down the stretch.
  2. VAR continued to correctly apply the laws of the game. Lewis Dunk had a potentially stunning opener after going a man down, but it was disallowed as Dan Burn all alone and very offside backed goalkeeper Angus Gunn to the ground. It could have easily been given as a foul, but instead VAR wiped it off for offside, also a fair call as he interfered with play. While some may not like how intrusive the technology has been, it has done a solid job of applying the laws to the game, albeit in a somewhat clunky manner.
  3. Southampton will take the three points no questions asked, but there is no doubt the Saints need to improve. They were second-best for much of the game, even at times with the advantage, and could have been pegged back with an embarrassing result. They were out-passed in the attacking third and nearly doubled up in chances created despite an hour-long man advantage.

Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond


Brighton was the most dangerous team early on and had a number of chances in the opening 20 minutes. Off a set-piece, Neal Maupay got his head to a seventh minute corner at the back post but he didn’t have the necessary accuracy and goalkeeper Angus Gunn also got a slight touch to keep it out. They had another chance from a 3 v. 1 short corner off the training ground minutes later but Dan Burn whiffed on his open header at the doorstep. Then Martin Montoya put a long-distance header wide left on the 20-minute mark.

With the game calming down past the half-hour mark, out of nothing, the match turned on its head as Brighton’s Andone produced one of the most shocking challenges you will see, with a heavy touch on the ball followed by a studs-up lunge straight into the leg of Valery, who was lucky to come out of the collision unscathed. Referee Kevin Friend showed absolutely no hesitation in sending Andone off.

The opener came on 55 minutes when Djenepo collected the ball in space outside the top of the box and as nobody closed him down, he unleashed a fabulous curler that found the top corner and opened his Premier League account having just come off the bench two minutes earlier. He created the space required thanks to a slight touch inside to his right before

Nathan Redmond came close to putting Saints two-up and burying the game, but he put his low chance just wide right on 64 minutes. Jurgen Locadia had Brighton’s biggest chance to get back level, hammering the post with a volley on 87 minutes on a tight-angle chance he should have deposited in the back of the net. Southampton made them pay, killing off the game in the first minute of stoppage time as a low cross from Sofiane Boufal found a sliding Redmond at the doorstep for a 2-0 lead.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Haller nearing West Ham move, Lovren to AC Milan

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According to multiple reports across England, West Ham is close to its marquee Marko Arnautovic replacement as Sebastian Haller is nearly a Hammer.

Haller’s club Eintracht Frankfurt confirmed that the 25-year-old is on his way to London for a medical and will be a Hammer before long. His signature would represent a club-record fee of $55.9 million according to both the BBC and Sky Sports, far surpassing the $44.7 million paid for Felipe Anderson.

Haller is a goalscorer as well as a contributor, bagging 24 goals in 60 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt in his two years with the club and also assisting 13 more. The analytics folks love the move.

With Lucas Perez, Arnautovic and Andy Carroll all having departed the club this summer, the addition of Haller is a much-needed boost to the West Ham attack that includes Felipe, Robert Snodgrass, and Javier Hernandez.


Divisive Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, who infamously declared not so long ago that he is the best defender in the world, is rumored to be considering a move away from Anfield after last season’s Champions League winning campaign.

According to Nicolo Schira of Gazzetta dello Sport, Lovren is a target for AC Milan, although he would likely be asked to take a serious pay cut from his current Anfield salary. The report says that Liverpool wants at least $22 million for Lovren’s services, and that AC Milan would offer him a contract of $13.6 million over four years. That’s a significant drop from the $5.6 million a year he makes currently.

Still, if a deal can be struck, it may be enticing for Lovren considering his playing time at Liverpool has dipped in the past year. Now 30 years old, Lovren appeared in just 13 games for Liverpool last season, partially due to a pair of injuries but also having lost his place to Joel Matip. He was on the bench behind Matip for the final three matches of the Champions League run after starting the final next to Virgil Van Dijk the year before.


According to French publication L’Equipe, Southampton is in talks with OGC Nice to offload winger Sofiane Boufal. The Moroccan international joined Saints in 2016 from Lille but spent last season on loan with Spanish club Celta Vigo where hee scored just three goals in 35 league appearances.

With those struggles, his value has reportedly dropped to just $11.2 million, having been purchased for $21 million three years ago. L’Equipe says that while fellow French clubs Marseille and Bordeaux were interested, neither wanted to commit to a permanent transfer, with both wishing for a loan with an option to buy, whereas Nice has gone the extra mile.

Boufal was with the Moroccan squad in the Africa Cup of Nations this summer, appearing in three of their four matches, with all three appearances off the bench. He did not score or assist a goal.


Over the past few days there have been reports that should Leicester City cash in on Harry Maguire to Manchester United, they could pounce for Brighton defender Lewis Dunk as his replacement for about half the reported fee they would receive from the Red Devils. Now, with more time to think, that price may have spooked the Foxes.

According to Rob Dorsett of Sky Sports, Leicester City may decide to stick with internal replacements instead of spend big on a defender they don’t believe to be of accurate value in the market. Dorsett mentions 23-year-old Caglar Soyuncu and 22-year-old Filip Benkovic as possible options to receive more playing time.

Benkovic, a Dinamo Zagreb youth product who arrived at Leicester City last summer, received his Croatian international debut this summer as a reward for a solid loan spell at Celtic last season. Aside from an ankle injury that sidelined him for all of February, Benkovic was a regular in the Celtic lineup and helped them post a glittering defensive record en route to the Scottish Premiership title, conceding just 20 goals in 38 matches. Celtic also lost every Europa League match that Benkovic missed, while they won three and lost one of the four he played.

Soyuncu joined Leicester last summer as well, coming over from German side Freiburg, but only saw the field for six Premier League matches, starting four. Of the four matches he started, the club conceded just one goal in every game, and he also started the EFL Cup loss to Manchester City that saw the league champions score just once in regulation before losing on penalties.


Kieran Trippier is reportedly receiving interest from major European clubs and could be considering an exit from Tottenham this summer, despite the season drawing closer. According to Daily Telegraph reporter Matt Law, Trippier has particularly interested Atletico Madrid, who could be in for a $25 million move.

Given Trippier’s growth at Tottenham and importance to Mauricio Pochettino‘s setup, selling a player of Trippier’s quality for that low a price seems a poor decision for Spurs, but if the player has his head turned after a run to the Champions League final there may not be much the club can do.

A right-back by trade, Trippier was recently deployed by Pochettino as part of a three-center-back system that saw the England international transform into one of the most versatile defenders in the Premier League, maintaining a strong defensive stance but also swinging out wide to perform wing-back duties at times and becoming one of the Premier League’s best free-kick takers.

Trippier’s name has cropped up a few times this summer, but nothing remotely concrete has taken hold and it would at this point be surprising if Daniel Levy allows an England international in his prime with three years left on his contract to depart so cheaply.