Sofiane Boufal

Jimenez leads stunning Wolves comeback

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Wolves were 2-0 down at half time at Southampton on Saturday and won 3-2.

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Jan Bednarek and Shane Long had put Saints in a comfortable position but then Pedro Neto made it 2-1 and Mexico’s Raul Jimenez scored a penalty kick and a winner to send the Wolves fans wild.

The win was Wolves’ first in six games in all competitions and moves them into sixth place, while Southampton saw their six game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end in dramatic fashion.


3 things we learned

1. Saints implode at key moment: In truth, Saints were a little fortunate to be 2-0 up at half time in an even game. But after the way they’ve surged up the table with six wins in their last nine, you could see they were brimming with confidence. That is now gone. After beating Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea spirits were high but Ralph Hasenhuttl will have to pick his team up from a shocking defeat. This feels like another key moment in their season as they now sit six points off the bottom three but a win or draw would see them much closer to the top six battle. Fine margins decide games and Long’s header hit the post moments before Wolves made it 2-1. Saints’ season can now go either way.

2. Wolves continue to rally from slow starts: They have conceded the first goal in a league-high 16 PL games this season and it is now seven in a row. But they keep fighting and they showed incredible spirit with Jimenez and Traore leading the charge, once again. Imagine where Wolves would be in the table if they actually started games well?

3. Top four now on for Santo’s battered side: They are five points behind Chelsea and in the top four hunt now. Wolves have such a small squad and Santo wants to add to it, so expect them to do business with the Europa League knockout rounds and a possible top four push coming up. They are down to the bare bones with injuries to Vinagre, Boly and Jota hitting them hard but they are getting the job done in remarkable fashion.

Man of the Match: Raul Jimenez – He missed a few chances in the first half but was always a threat and finished his chances in the second half. Clever hold up play and pulled Southampton’s defense all over the place.


Wolves looked dangerous early on as Adama Traore’s deflected shot flew just wide but then Saints struck with their first attempt of the game.

James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick caused havoc and Bednarek cleaned up at the back post to slot home calmly and make it 1-0.

Saints should have doubled their lead as Cedric‘s header at the back post was a poor one, while Raul Jimenez went close on a couple of occasions.

After Jimenez flashed another shot wide Saints did double their lead, as Cedric’s cross was finished clinically by Long for his first goal in 19 games.

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Long hit the post with a header as Saints threatened to run away with things at the start of the second but moments later Wolves started their comeback.

Adama Traore surged down the right and crossed for Neto who controlled well then finished to half the deficit.

Wolves were level soon after as Jonny ran into the box and was brought down by a combination of Cedric and Jack Stephens in the box, as a penalty kick was awarded via VAR and Jimenez slotted home from the spot.

Nathan Redmond then went on an incredible run and smashed a shot from distance which clipped the crossbar and then Neto drilled over from a great position as it was end-to-end stuff in the closing stages.

Saints went close to scoring a winner as Jack Stephens couldn’t hook home from close range as Wolves somehow cleared, and then Jimenez finished after great work from Traore to make it 3-2 and seal the stunning comeback.

Stephens and Sofiane Boufal missed chances for Southampton to nick a point as Wolves, who are short on players as injuries pile up, pulled off an amazing comeback win.

Africa Cup of Nations moved, Premier League clubs impacted

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The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon has been moved and it is likely to impact several Premier League clubs.

In a statement the African Football Confederation (CAF) confirmed the switch, as they had previously agreed to hold the tournament in the summer (just like in 2019) but due to the hot weather conditions in host nation Cameroon in the summer time, the Cameroon Football Federation has switched the dates to Jan. 6 to Feb. 6, 2021.

The deputy general secretary of CAF, Tony Baffoe, revealed more details about why the dates have been switched.

“We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated. After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints – and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players – the representatives of the AFCON organising committee, which received the mandate from CAF Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request. A detailed reported shall be presented to the members of the Executive Committee during its next session on 6 February.”

That means the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, to name a few, would be missing for over a month of the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Liverpool would be the Premier League most impacted with Salah and Mane potentially joined by Naby Keita, while Leicester City would potentially lose Nigerian duo Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, plus Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo and Sofiane Boufal would be unavailable.

Of course, this over a year out and teams haven’t even qualified for the tournament yet, but this will seriously impact the plans of Premier League clubs.

AFCON tournaments have previously been held in January to February but switched to a summer model for the 2019 edition in Egypt, with clubs across Europe delighted by that decision as they were losing star players at a key part of the season.

Premier League storylines: Matchweek 15

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Midweek Premier League action is coming up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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December is here and that means one thing: PL games by the boatload. Oh yeah, family and presents and food and stuff too… but mostly, Premier League.

Here’s a look at the top storylines heading into the next three days of PL action with two games on Tuesday and Thursday and six on Wednesday.

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Mourinho returns to Man United with Tottenham

  • Man United v. Tottenham, Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Jose Mourinho returns to Old Trafford as he aims to make it four wins out of four as Tottenham’s manager. If you read that sentence to someone this time last year they likely would have fallen off their chair. A lot has changed in the last 12 months since Mourinho was fired by United, but mostly for him. United are still sluggishly pushing for a top four finish and look no closer to achieving that this season than they did last season. In fact, after 14 games last season Mourinho’s United had 22 points on the board. This season they have 18, despite heavy investment in Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side have coughed up leads against Aston Villa and Sheffield United in their last two games and now sit eight points off the top four, while Spurs are two points ahead of them. Harry Kane against Harry Maguire should be an epic battle and Mourinho knows this United team better than most and will no doubt have a very specific gameplan to edge his team further ahead in the race for a top four finish. Mourinho has received a pretty positive reception on his recent returns to Old Trafford as a TV pundit, but that will quickly evaporate if he’s sliding down the touchline on his knees in celebration on Wednesday. Spurs have momentum but both teams are conceding plenty of goals. This should be box office and if Mourinho wins, ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino will surely move closer to taking Solskjaer’s job. The wild managerial merry-go-round continues.


Arsenal, Everton in freefall

  • Arsenal v. Brighton, Thursday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN)
  • Liverpool v. Everton, Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com)

Unai Emery has gone and Marco Silva is hanging on by a thread. All is not well at Arsenal or Everton. Both clubs have spent a lot of cash over the past few years but not in the right areas. Arsenal continue to buy talented attackers and neglect their defense, while Everton focus on wingers and midfielders instead of buying the top striker they needed to replace Romelu Lukaku. Aside from issues on the pitch, there a plenty off it for both clubs. Arsenal don’t seem to have a plan for the future as majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has his son Josh talking about the Arsenal DNA and how Freddie Ljungberg is the right man for now. Things didn’t look any different under Ljungberg on Sunday at Norwich as Arsenal were good going forward but a shambles at the back.

There is no clear plan for the future at Arsenal and the same can be said for Everton. Majority owner Farhad Moshiri is sticking with Silva, for now, but with different opinions behind-the-scenes and a team woefully underachieving, it’s a case of who can Everton attract to do any better than Silva currently is? A jolt in the right direction for Arsenal and Everton, who face Brighton and Liverpool respectively in midweek, is badly needed but it is the long-time plan which needs more attention. That has been badly neglected in recent months and both are paying for short-sighted splurges in transfer window rather than transformative philosophical changes. Everton will do well to get anything at Anfield, and although they’ve been unlucky in recent weeks, a heavy defeat to their rivals would be the end for Silva. As for Arsenal, a heavy win is the least Ljungberg will want as he aims to stake his claim to take the Gunners over for the rest of this season at the very least.


Can Leicester, Man City stay in touch with Liverpool

  • Leicester City v. Watford, Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com)
  • Burnley v. Man City, Tuesday (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Liverpool are looking lonely atop the Premier League table. Leicester City are doing their best to stay in touch with them, and their dramatic 2-1 win against Everton on Sunday proved they have momentum, and perhaps fate, on their side in their unlikely title bid. Of course, Man City are still the favorites to hunt Liverpool down, just as they did last season, but Pep Guardiola‘s battered and patched up defense head to Burnley knowing that they really can’t afford to drop any more points… this season. An 11 point lead over Man City is an incredible achievement at this stage of the season but anybody who has watched Liverpool regularly will admit they’ve been far from their best this season. They’re grinding out win after win but unless their form improves, eventually they will slip up. Leicester host struggling Watford and Man City head to Burnley knowing they have to win to put the pressure on Liverpool. It is that simple.

Relegation six-pointer at St Mary’s

Southampton breathed a huge sigh of relief after their late comeback win at home against Watford on Saturday but Ralph Hasenhuttl knows they are still in deep trouble. Saints’ first half display was one of their worst of the season as the pressure of not having a home win since April weighed heavy on the shoulders of his players. There was a negative vibe among the home fans at St Mary’s as they booed their players throughout, but the arrival of Sofiane Boufal off the bench in the second half swung the game in their favor. Hasenhuttl has called on his players to be brave and he must be brave with his team selection too.

Neither Saints or Norwich can defend but both teams have shown they can score plenty of goals and in a key relegation scrap, it’s all about which club can hold their nerve in front of goal on Wednesday. Saints are under pressure but face Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Ham in their next four and they know they need momentum at this key point of the season. As for Norwich, there is no pressure on them. Everybody knows they have the smallest budget in the PL but they continue to punch above their weight and should have beat Arsenal on Sunday. Southampton and Norwich will be in a relegation battle all season and this game is crucial in deciding which team finishes above or below the dreaded dotted line.

Southampton’s late show rekindles belief

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SOUTHAMPTON — For the first 60 minutes Southampton’s players were being heckled and booed by their own fans.

30 minutes later they were given a standing ovation off the pitch after launching a heroic comeback to secure their first home win since April and beat relegation rivals Watford 2-1 in a pivotal clash at St Mary’s.

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Boy, did Southampton need this. They now have belief they can get out of the bottom three and salvage their season as they have four crucial games coming up against Norwich, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa.

Speaking after the game Ralph Hasenhuttl puffed out his cheeks as he sat down in the press conference room. Relief was the key word.

“There is a tonne of weight falling off the shoulders, there were tonnes of weight here today, you could feel it from the first moment. We couldn’t move. It was completely different to last weekend,” Hasenhuttl told Sky Sports. “The subs had a good impact and gave us fresh energy. Then it was a completely different second half, an unbelievable turnaround for the table. Sofiane Boufal on one side and Moussa Djenepo on the other gave us good quality.”

Southampton’s players were relieved at the final whistle and local lad Danny Ings, who has now scored eight goals in his last nine games in all competitions, added that the way the atmosphere turned inspired the players.

“It’s a massive result. It has been a very tough week for everyone at the club. To go 1-0 down and then to comeback and win shows the character of the lads. The atmosphere was great in the end and we deserved the points,” Ings told Sky Sports.

Hasenhuttl was asked if the atmosphere early on at St Mary’s impacted the performance of his team, and he issued a rallying cry to his players.

“We didn’t show that we create chances. We need chances to lift them and when we had a small one they were immediately there. We have to create them and you cannot demand them supporting you if you don’t show them anything,” Hasenhuttl said. “You have to show them then you get something. In the second half we showed and they were immediately there. This is what lifts everybody. First we must look at ourselves and what we can do better and the rest comes by the side.”

Saints were a team transformed in the second half as Moussa Djenepo and Sofiane Boufal pushed on down the wings, Danny Ings was a menace in the middle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg won the ball back time and time again as they pinned Watford back.

Hasenhuttl admitted the second half was how he wants Saints to play all the time as they enter a season-defining few weeks in their season.

“We wanted to play like this from the beginning, it was the same shape. The players didn’t play how we want them to play and like they can play and we conceded a goal in that moment. I have analyzed more than I wanted to,” Hasenhuttl said. “It is more important to have this win now, to have this first three points at home. Last two games from a results side were okay, now we have a big home game against Norwich where we have to do it again.”

Brave is a word Hasenhuttl has being using a lot lately and his Southampton players dug deep at a crucial period late in the game against Watford.

He knows this is only the start but if they continue to be brave, Saints’ belief that they will stay in the Premier League will continue to rise.

“We have chances to take points every weekend and we must be more brave like today and when we are we have our quality to score, and we have our quality to win games,” Hasenhuttl added.

Southampton beat Watford thanks to dramatic late comeback

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SOUTHAMPTON — The Saints are alive.

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Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men rallied from 1-0 down to beat Watford 2-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday, as Southampton secured their first home win since April in dramatic fashion.

After Ismaila Sarr gave Watford a first half lead, Saints fought back as Danny Ings equalized (although replays show there was a handball in the build up to it) and James Ward-Prowse scored a late winner.

The victory moves Saints on to 12 points for the season, two points off safety. Watford sit bottom of the table on eight points, six points from safety.

3 things we learned

1. Southampton rally for Hasenhuttl: This was a gutsy comeback win. Southampton were being booed by some of their home fans for the first 60 minutes for being too negative and they hadn’t won at home since April. St Mary’s has become a very tough place to play for them. But they stuck to their plan, high pressed Watford and got the win for Hasenhuttl. They deserved it for the second half display, even if there were a few nerves late on, and they now face Norwich, Newcastle, West Ham and Villa in their next four games. Saints’ season has lift off.

2. Boufal, Djenepo the difference: Their talented wingers from Morocco and Mali gave Watford a torrid time and dragged them back into the game. Boufal’s arrival off the bench was a game-changer and Djenepo’s skill to set up Ings was sublime. Saints are better when they go at teams and if these two stay fit, they hold the key to Saints pushing into midtable.

3. Negative Watford cut adrift: Saints were there for the taking in the first half and Watford should have been 3-0 up. But they weren’t clinical and fell apart in the second half. Quique Sanchez Flores was too negative with his tactics and he is likely to be fired as they are now six points off safety. Next up: in-form Leicester, Palace, Liverpool, plus a clash with Man United. The Hornets look doomed.

Man of the Match: Sofiane Boufal – He made such a huge difference after coming off the bench and the only reason he didn’t start this game was because he stubbed his toe in his kitchen this week. Seriously. The Moroccan winger is loved at St Mary’s after his season away on loan and his flair lit up this game.


Watford had the first big chance of the game as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg gave the ball away but Ismaila Sarr shot right at Alex McCarthy. At the other end Hojbjerg fired just over as Saints tried to get on the front foot.

Nathan Redmond fired a shot in on goal which Ben Foster saved easily, as the game turned into a tight, tense encounter.

Watford then took the lead as one ball over the top caught Saints out, Sarr raced onto it and fired over McCarthy and in.

The Hornets were buoyed by that opening goal as Sarr hammered in a volley on goal which McCarthy saved and moments later Gerard Deulofeu crossed but Sarr couldn’t get on the end of it.

Saints settled down as the first half played out as James Ward-Prowse’s clever flick almost snuck in at the back post.

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At the start of the second half Sarr then dribbled clear and sent an effort just over the crossbar as Watford looked dangerous on the break.

Substitutes Shane Long and Sofiane Boufal made a big difference when they came on as Southampton forced the issue in the second half. Danny Ings pressed Ben Foster into a horrible situation as the Watford goalkeeper won a free kick with Ings adamant he deserved a penalty kick as the home side pushed to get back on level terms.

Boufal surged into the box and pulled it back for Long who scuffed his shot towards the goal but Foster, at full strength, heroically tipped the ball onto the crossbar. Ings then set up Long who looked to have scored but Craig Cathcart somehow cleared the ball off the line.

Saints eventually got their deserved equalizer as Djenepo danced away from his marker, pulled the ball back and Ings bundled it home. Replays showed Djenepo handled the ball and it should have been chalked off by VAR, which missed the angle shown on TV.

Saints played on and soon the winner arrived.

Ward-Prowse then whipped home a fine free kick at the near post to make it 2-1, as Foster pushed the ball into his own net and will feel he should have done better.

Late on Watford threw everything at Southampton as Andre Gray fired wide and McCarthy tipped a cross over the bar as Saints held on.