Tom Cleverley

Wolves finally win, add to Watford’s woes

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Wolverhampton Wanderers secured their first victory of the Premier League season as they beat Watford 2-0 at Molineux on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Matt Doherty scored in the first half and his cross was knocked into his own net by Daryl Janmaat in the second half as Watford improved after the break but couldn’t cope with Wolves’ quality in attack.

The win moves Wolves on to seven points for the season, while Watford have just two and sit bottom.


3 things we learned 

1. Wolves back to their fluid best: Their first goal was reminiscent of last season as Wolves were patient and picked their passes and final ball perfectly. Wolves have struggled early in the season but they showed glimpses that their attacking fluidity is finally returning. The Europa League is a distraction, but any relegation fears Wolves fans had for this season will soon evaporate.

2. Defensive woes continue for Watford: The Hornets were their own worst enemies against Wolves as they failed to follow their runners and just couldn’t keep their shape. They are bottom of the table on one two points and have conceded 20 goals in seven games. This is a big, big project for Quique Sanchez Flores.

3. Lift-off for Nuno: He has hit out at his team, especially for their defensive displays, but Nuno Espirito Santo will be happy after this. His team were far from perfect and sat back a lot in the second half, but they got the job done. This feels like Wolves’ new season can finally get going.

Man of the Match: Matt Doherty – A marauding display from right back as he scored one and set up the other. Doherty was back to the form we saw him in last season. A tireless and selfless display.


Wolves were lively early on as Neto broke free and crossed for Jimenez but the Mexican star couldn’t get on the end of the ball.

Neto did provide an assist moments later as his clever run was picked out following a lovely team move, and his ball to the center of the goal was tapped home by Doherty. A wonderful team goal from Wolves.

Watford really struggled to cope with Wolves’ tempo and wide play, as Adama Traore then looked to have his cross blocked by a hand but no penalty kick was given.

After long stoppages as both Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez went down for Wolves, the game lost its way in the first half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Watford improved in the second half and Rui Patricio was forced to save Holebas’ header and then denied Tom Cleverley with the follow up.

Wolves then put the result beyond doubt as another fine move out wide saw Doherty cross and Morgan Gibbs-White flicked the header into Janmatt who directed the ball into his own net.

Danny Welbeck then forced Patricio into a save but the win was fairly routine for Wolves, as they bagged their first victory of the season.

Cleverley: Watford ‘could smell’ Arsenal’s hesitancy in comeback

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Despite Arsenal’s 2-0 lead over winless Watford, there was something in the air at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Just ask Tom Cleverley.

“Arsenal were a bit tentative and we could smell that a bit,” said Cleverley, who scored one of two Watford goals

[ RECAP: Watford 2-2 Arsenal ]

What also stunk was Arsenal’s decision making in the second half.

On a day the Gunners were out shot 31-7 and being held in the match (again) by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, an elementary mistake by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and terrible block by David Luiz allowed Watford a 2-2 in Quique Sanchez Flores’ first match of his second stint as Hornets boss.

“I think the reaction of the players was the most important thing,” said Sanchez Flores. “It’s easy to be down when you are losing 2-0 to a team as good as Arsenal. But we never gave up and we tried to keep the energy. In the second half we played really well.”

Cleverley had a less shielded response to the comeback.

“I would have snatched your hand off for 2-2 at half-time but we should have won it in the end,” Cleverley said. “We can definitely build on this and go forward.”

Comical errors doom Arsenal in draw with inspired Watford

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Watford gave Quique Sanchez Flores a fine “re-debut” for the Hornets in thrilling fashion.

Well, maybe it’d be better said that Arsenal gave the manager his moment.

Arsenal made two silly mistakes in their own box, giving Watford a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford out shot the Gunners 28-7, but needed big help to solve Bernd Leno.

The Gunners led on a pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals scored 11 minutes apart in the first half, but Tom Cleverley and Roberto Pereyra had the answers thanks to grave errors from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz.

Arsenal now sits seventh with eight points, while Watford remains 20th with two.


Three things we learned

1. Fullbacks on parade: Arsenal’s early lead came by their very different attack-minded fullbacks. Sead Kolasinac drove with power down the left to slip a ball to Aubameyang for the opening goal, while flying Ainsley Maitland-Niles found space on the right to cross for Aubameyang’s second. Beautiful stuff.

2. Leno bright early: Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno picked up where he left off in the North London Derby, making a number of key saves or claims as Watford came out the gates with brightness and purpose. He had little chance of stopping either Watford goal, and made a point-salvaging save on Abdoulaye Doucoure in stoppage time.

3. More laughs at the back:  Just when you thought Nicolas Otamendi had the “Worst Giveaway of the Weekend” award on lock down, enter Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The veteran defender couldn’t quite sense the danger in his pass to Guendouzi, could he?

David Luiz’s mistake was nearly as glaring, as he blocked Roberto Pereyra‘s 80th minute dribble into the 18. Pereyra wrong-footed Leno for 2-2.

Man of the Match: Aubameyang.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The first proper chance of the match was produced by Gerard Deulofeu, whose curling shot gave Bernd Leno a little trouble.

Leno then made a fine save on Tom Cleverley in the 11th minute to led to a corner, and had to stop another shot from the same players off the set piece.

The chances kept coming, with Deulofeu cueing up Jose Holebas for a shot that sailed well over the bar.

Arsenal went ahead 1-0 in the 21st minute through a powerful Sead Kolasinac dribble up field to find Aubameyang for a classy turn and finish.

The second goal was electric, with Ozil playing a role in the build-up to Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ perfect cross for Aubameyang.

A bad giveaway by Matteo Guendouzi opened the door for Watford, but the Hornets couldn’t challenge Leno.

A spicy affair saw a touch line skirmish between Holebas and Arsenal duo Matteo Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Watford pulled one back off a terrible giveaway from Sokratis, who gave Cleverley a wide open look at either side of Leno.

Then substitute Ismalia Sarr dragged a shot wide of the frame. Watford was knocking, and David Luiz opened the door with a block on Roberto Pereyra at the top of the 18. Pereyra fooled Leno and got the equalizer.

Watford downed late by Ajax in preseason friendly

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Watford went toe-to-toe with Champions League semifinalists Ajax for most of the match, but capitulated late as Dutch youth international Jurrien Timber scored an 89th minute winner in a 2-1 win for the Eredivisie side in Austria.

Andre Gray put the Hornets up from the penalty spot six minutes before the break as American youth international Sergino Dest was called for an unlucky handball in the box. Abdoulaye Doucoure danced through the box and as he looked to skip the ball past Dest, it popped up and caught the American’s arm. Gray delivered and put Watford 1-0 up at the break.

The lead would only last until the 51st minute when Dusan Tadic found himself on the ball at the end line on the right, and he cut back to Donny van de Beek through the dummy of Kasper Dolberg on the penalty spot for an easy low finish and a 1-1 scoreline. It would stay that way until one minute to go in regulation as Carel Eiting sent a ball into the box where the 18-year-old Timber lept with his back to goal and clipped the ball off the top of his head for the winner, burying the chance inside the far post.

Both teams featured strong lineups, as Watford ran out stars like Gray, Tom Cleverley, Adrian Mariappa, and former Eredivisie veteran Daryl Janmaat while Nathan Chalobah, Gerard Deulofeu, and Jose Holebas came off the bench. Ajax saw van de Beek, Tadic, Dolberg, and Daley Blind all make the starting lineup.

Next for Watford is a match against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, also taking place in Austria.

PL Sunday preview: Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd limping to finish

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Sunday’s three Premier League fixtures will see a trio of top-four hopefuls take the field for the penultimate game of their respective seasons.

The PL’s four Champions League places could be officially awarded by the end of day, or we could wind up with four teams — including third-place Tottenham Hotspur — separated by just two points. Seeing how none of the three have even a single win from any their last three games, the latter might actually be the safer bet.

[ MORE: Liverpool survive Newcastle scare to take PL title race to final day ]

Huddersfield v. Man United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Manchester United have the longest odds of getting into Europe’s elite competition next season, as the Red Devils (65 points) currently sit sixth and trail fourth-place Chelsea by a full three points.

If Man United can’t beat an already-relegated Huddersfield Town side at John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday — it would be the Terriers’ ninth straight PL defeat — their hopes of finishing fourth won’t be mathematically dead, only realistically so. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.

“I don’t think we can give up until it’s theoretically over, but of course it’s a big mountain to climb,” he said this week. “The end of the season throws up a few marginal decisions, strange results, so anything can happen. We still want to finish the season on a high, and let’s see where that takes us now. Let’s see how many points we can get.”

INJURIES: Huddersfield —  OUT: Aaron Mooy (hip) | Man United  — OUT: Romelu Lukaku (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jesse Lingard (knee), Marcus Rashford (shoulder), Phil Jones (knee)


Chelsea v. Watford — 9 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Of the three sides in action on Sunday, only Chelsea control their own destiny. The math is simple: any combination of Chelsea points won and Arsenal points dropped to reach five will see the Blues qualify for Champions League.

Maurizio Sarri has made finishing in the top-four a clear priority by resting superstar Eden Hazard (for 60 minutes) in Chelsea’s Europa League semifinal first leg against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday. The wild card in the race for fourth remains Europe’s “other” competition, as Chelsea and Arsenal are favorites to reach the final later this month in Azerbaijan. The most likely scenario, in that event, is that one of the two will have already clinched a Champions League place and the other’s last pathway to European riches would be to win the Europa League.

INJURIES: Chelsea —  OUT: Callum Hudson-Odoi (achilles), Antonio Rudiger (knee) | Watford  — OUT: Etienne Capoue (knock), Tom Cleverley (fitness)


Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Arsenal (66) is the only side without a single point from the aforementioned last three games, meaning they would have put themselves comfortably in the driver’s seat with even a win and a pair of draws. As things stand, they trail Chelsea by two points.

The Gunners haven’t lost four straight top-flight fixtures since 1995. Fortunately for Unai Emery‘s men, Brighton have taken all of two points from their last seven league games. By playing in the day’s final game, Arsenal will be fully aware of how high three points will take them.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Hector Bellerin (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (suspension) | Brighton  — OUT: Davy Propper (hamstring)