Willy Boly

Nuno proud of Wolves comeback; Hasenhuttl fumes at VAR

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It is safe to say that the managers of Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers had contrasting emotions after the dramatic 3-2 victory for the visitors at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Saints led 2-0 at half time but a stunning second half comeback, led by Mexico’s Raul Jimenez who scored twice, grabbed Wolves all three points.

With his squad banged up and missing Ruben Vinagre, Willy Boly and Diogo Jota among others, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was beaming at the final whistle after a lengthy celebration with the Wolves fans in the away end.

“It was amazing, the second half,” Santo smiled. “They [the players] realized the first half was not good. They reacted very well. I am very proud of the players and I was proud even in the first half because I am very aware of how we were doing things. Let’s keep on going.”

As for Southampton’s perspective, Ralph Hasenhuttl was not a happy man.

But not because of how his team played. He was fuming at the officials and VAR due to the decision to award a penalty kick to Wolves for their second goal. Referee Darren England didn’t award a penalty kick as Jonny went down in the box under contact from Cedric and then Jack Stephens but VAR intervened and awarded the spot kick.

“For me it is absolutely not a clear wrong decision. I think the referee was right in that moment,” Hasenhuttl fumed. “Cedric was in front of him and it wasn’t a clear wrong decision, in my opinion. The referee was right. I don’t know why they overruled in that moment. I cannot understand it. I really can’t. Cedric was in front of the ball so he [Jonny] had no chance to get to the ball. You can give it, yes, but it is not a clear wrong. I heard that VAR was overruling when it is clearly wrong. For me, it was not clearly wrong. This is what I cannot understand.”

Cedric’s nudge on Jonny probably wasn’t a foul and although Stephens didn’t make contact, his challenge was reckless. Hasenhuttl is perhaps looking to detract a little of the attention away from his players who crumbled after leading 2-0.

In truth, that lead was flattering in a pretty even game that Wolves had dominated early, and although Southampton’s incredible run of form (six wins in nine PL games before this) is over, they are still six points above the relegation zone.

This was a big moment in the season for both teams. Had Saints won they’d have been level with Wolves but a massive comeback victory now propels Nuno’s boys up to sixth and in with a chance of a top four finish.

That will surely persuade their owners to spend money in the final days of the January transfer window as their tired and stretched squad will also have to cope with the latter stages of the Europa League in the coming months.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Wolves

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Wolverhampton Wanderers look preserve their good form – most recently showcased against Manchester City – when they visit Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday (Watch Live at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Sunday’s bout will see both clubs meet for the first time this season.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

With an instant-classic, 3-2 comeback win against City on Thursday, Wolves sit fifth on the table, while Liverpool – as we all know – are unbeaten and on pace to break the all-time most points record (100) set in 2018.

With four games in two days, are either side set to make drastic changes to their side? With the chance to leapfrog Chelsea with a win, it’s unlikely Wolves will, although it’s likelier Liverpool will elect to make a change or two.


Injuries/suspensions

Liverpool: OUT —  Dejan Lovren (hamstring), Fabinho (hamstring), Joel Matip (knee), Nathaniel Clyne (ACL), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle)

Wolves: OUT — Willy Boly (ankle), Morgan Gibbs-White (back)


Probable lineups

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Lallana, Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Wolves: Rui Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Joao Moutinho, Vinagre; Traore, Jimenez, Jota.


What they’re saying 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp on how dangerous Wolves will be: “Very – very, unfortunately. I really think the job Nuno is doing there is incredible with all the Europa League stress. I think at the beginning of the season they realized a little bit, ‘Oh, that’s different’. But now they are settled completely there, they are there again, Jimenez and Jota are scoring again. They had to change a little bit the last line to last year; Bennett and Boly are not playing consistently so they had to change that, but they have good options there. Traore finally found his manager, who found a position for him – he started as a wing-back and now he can even play in the front three. An exceptional player, as a kid he was already exceptional when he played for Barca I think, probably the quickest player in the league. So, a lot of really good things there and that makes it really difficult to play against them, of course. But it should be difficult against us as well, that’s the plan.”

Traore on Wolves’ thrilling comeback against Manchester City: “This team is amazing. We fight until the end, whatever the situation. That’s what we did today and I’m so happy for the team. Every one of us has worked so hard, we believed we could get this result.”

“Liverpool are a great team and are many points in front. We will fight to give our best.”


Prediction

13 points clear of Leicester City and with a jam-packed schedule ahead, it’s expected for Klopp and company to go into Sunday’s game with bit of a free-and-easy attitude. That said, an inspired Wolves will still remain outweighed by the Reds’ chemistry and excessive firepower, but the bout should still be an authentic showdown. Liverpool, 2-1.

Premier League Preview: Wolves v. Man City

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  • Man City (38 points) sit 3rd in PL table
  • Wolves (27 points) sit 8th
  • Last meeting: Man City 0-2 Wolves

At this point, there is virtually no race for the Premier League title, as Liverpool should waltz to their first domestic crown since 1990. Pep Guardiola has even said so himself. If the Reds were to slip up, however, the onus would then fall on Manchester City to make things interesting.

While the likelihood of Liverpool falling short seems unlikely given their current record-setting pace, Man City can move back into second place and cut the gap between the two sides to 11 points with a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium on Friday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

As for Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side can climb as high as fifth with a victory over the two-time defending champions. After starting the season slowly (no wins from their first six game — 0W-4D-2L), last season’s seventh-place finishers are back for another crack at the PL’s top-six. This time — thanks to Arsenal’s horrid struggles, Tottenham Hotspur’s regression and Manchester United’s continued mediocrity — Wolves look the best bet to become the first side to break into the top-six since Leicester City won the title in 2016.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – John Stones (hamstring), David Silva (leg), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee)

Wolves: OUT – Willy Boly (ankle), Morgan Gibbs-White (back)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy — Rodrigo, Gundogan — Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling — Jesus

Wolves: Patricio — Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss — Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny — Traore, Jimenez, Jota


What they’re saying

Guardiola, on Liverpool’s form: “When a team has 16 victories from 17 [games], it’s unrealistic to think we are going to chase them. It’s unrealistic right now. We have to try to win our games, secure Champions League for next season and then you never know, no? ‘If they drop a couple of games, and we win and win, I don’t know. When one team lose one game in the last 53 or 54, I’m not optimistic that they are going to lose four or five in ten or eleven games because they are incredibly strong.”

Nuno, on a packed schedule: “It’s going to be very tough, I think all of the managers are concerned and rightly so. I’m particularly concerned because I’ve been saying this; the schedule doesn’t make sense, it’s absurd. For all the teams. Of course, there are teams that have three days [between matches], but I don’t know the particular reason why it’s us as Wolves who have less hours, but it’s a concern for all the managers and for all the players. We have to survive. We have to survive. Let’s see what happens. We will train tomorrow, then we prepare to play Man City, and we’ll see. Let’s try and survive.”


Prediction

After a brief period of up-and-down results, Man City looked to be back to their best in dismantling Leicester City last weekend. Now, Sergio Aguero is back in action after missing four games due to a thigh injury, which makes Wolves’ task that much taller. However, if there’s a side that’s built to react and counter against 60 percent of possession, as City will have, it might be Wolves. It’ll be a challenge for City, but they’ll come out on top in the end. Wolves 1-2 Man City.

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)

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 10

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Tottenham Hotspur, we’re angry with you.

No, not because you’ve floundered after we had you pegged as the team best able to provide a third entrant to the Premier League title race, but, well…

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]

…You’re making our power rankings way too difficult.

Spurs, on one hand, have drawn last place Watford, barely beat Southampton, and lost to Newcastle and Brighton.

On the other, they’ve hung tight enough with Liverpool, Leicester City, and Man City, drawn Arsenal, and bashed decent-looking Villa and Palace.

It doesn’t just make it challenging to place Spurs on this table, it makes it challenging to evaluate the quality of other teams’ results against them!

Alas, we’ll try. Because it’s our job. That’s why.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low


20. Southampton — Nine goals allowed at home. Which repercussion was more harsh on Saints, the players and staff donating their wages to charity, or consecutive matches away to Man City.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 9-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday at Man City

19. Norwich City — Their seven losses are the most in the league, and they need to find something from two-straight winnable matches (Brighton, Watford).
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-1 v. Manchester United
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton

18. Watford — Improving, to be sure, but probably looking past a Chelsea visit to next week’s trip to Norwich City.
Last week: 20
Season high: 18
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Chelsea

17. Newcastle United — Losing Sean Longstaff to a red card against a West Ham midfield which can handle itself at home is a problem.
Last week: 17
Season high: 15
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Wolves
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday at West Ham


16. Everton — A proper contender against contenders, but Marco Silva‘s men bring significantly less focus and intensity when the opposition is lesser.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 3-2 at Brighton
Up next:  11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Spurs

15. Brighton and Hove Albion — A very nice VAR-aided win over Everton, and Graham Potter‘s men will hope to ride momentum to another three points.
Last week: 18
Season high: 6
Season low:18
Last match: Won 3-2 v. Everton
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday v. Norwich City

(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

14. West Ham United — Winless since the defeat of Man Utd (five matches), Manuel Pellegrini has to get Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson back to their best.
Last week: 15
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

13. Bournemouth — Also winless in four with a stiff incoming test.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Watford
Up next: 8:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Manchester United

12. Burnley — Into a four-match run which demands results (Sheff Utd, West Ham, Watford, Palace) if this is going to be a second top half season in three attempts.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 4-2 v. Chelsea
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday at Sheffield United

11. Wolves — Deserved more than a point against Newcastle, but there have been too many matches like that for Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men this season. Willy Boly‘s injury is extremely challenging. Saturday at the Emirates could be a barnburner.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Newcastle United
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday at Arsenal

10. Tottenham Hotspur — Tricky little run ahead, starting at inconsistent before a trip to Serbia and visit from Sheffield United. We’ll soon know if the slump has truly been addressed.
Last week: 13
Season high: 2
Season low: 13
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Liverpool
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Everton

9. Aston Villa — Rebounded from the loss at Man City to advance in the League Cup, but gets a well-rested Liverpool at Villa Park.
Last week: 8
Season high: 8
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Man City
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

8. Arsenal — A mess, but a fun one.
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 8
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday v. Wolves

7. Manchester United — Massively improved, though the Paul Pogba question hangs over Old Trafford as the club gets results without him.
Last week: 12
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 3-1 at Norwich City
Up next: 8:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Bournemouth
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

6. Sheffield United — Not a bad point in London.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 at West Ham United
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

5. Crystal Palace — Looks like we were wrong about the Eagles, who have been truly impressive and steady thanks to Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Arsenal
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester City

4. Leicester City — The way the Foxes reacted to the blood in the water at St. Mary’s tells you all you need about the attitude at King Power.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 9-0 at Southampton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Crystal Palace

3. Manchester City — The injuries are mounting up, but a visit from Saints should be pretty straight-forward. The four match stretch that follows (Atalanta and Liverpool away, Chelsea and Shakhtar at home) is far from it.
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday v. Southampton

2. Chelsea — Saturday’s visitors are stingier these days, but Chelsea’s league win streak should continue at Vicarage Road.
Last week: 2
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 4-2 at Burnley
Up next: 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Watford

1. Liverpool —  How many times have the Reds been the better rested team in a PL match? Klopp’s gamble of playing the kids versus Arsenal looking doubly fortunate now.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Tottenham Hotspur
Up next: 11 a.m. ET Saturday at Aston Villa