Adama Traore

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‘I’m very happy for this’: Jimenez becomes Wolves all-time leading PL goalscorer

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Raul Jimenez has carved his name in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ history books.

“I want to say thank you to all my teammates, to the staff, to the coach, because without all of them, I can’t achieve this goal,” Jimenez said following Wolves’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Southampton on Saturday.

Just minutes earlier, in front of a fervent stand of Wolves supporters at St. Mary’s Stadium, Jimenez scored his 23rd Premier League goal for Midlands side, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League era. The Mexican surpasses Steven Fletcher‘s record of 22 goals, which stood since 2012.

“I’m very happy for this, and I want to keep scoring,” he added.

With Wolves disputing Europa League qualifying matches in August, the 28-year-old began to build early on what is now a monstrous campaign – 19 goals and 9 assist in throughout all competitions. Half a year down the road, there are no signs of Jimenez’s magic running out. In fact, his brace against the Saints is clearest indicator of why that’s the case.

With his divine hold up play, well-calculated pressing and hunger for redemption, Jimenez emotionally inspired Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side comeback. And in the 65th minute, his trademark penalty overturned a two-goal deficit, turning emotional to physical inspiration.

“[Coming back] was very important for us after a very bad first half,” he told Wolves reporters following the match.

Jimenez was full of praise for his team’s collective grit. He lauded his team’s “fantastic” second half – full of pressing and chances created. The tactic alterations implemented by Nuno Espirito Santo influenced Adama Traore’s run that led to Jimenez’s third and winning goal.

“In the end, we know that it depends on us – what we want to do, what we want to achieve. So, we need to keep going until the last minute. Keep trying to score, keep going with our football that makes us Wolves.”

We now know that Jimenez is Wolves’ all-time Premier League goalscorer, too.

Newcastle takes point from Wolves through Almiron, Dubravka

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Miguel Almiron turned in a Man of the Match performance as Newcastle United took a surprise point from the Molineux in a 1-1 draw with Wolves on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leander Dendoncker scored off a set piece for Wolves, who fall eight points off the Top Four.

Newcastle moves onto 26 points, five off seventh place and six away from the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Traore, Almiron should compete in the decathalon: For 90 minutes, Newcastle’s Almiron and Wolves winger Adama Traore drove each other nuts on the flank. Matching each other for pace as if the points would be awarded to the victor, there were no better field players to be found at the Molineux.

2. Dubravka continues to deliver: Newcastle’s xG luck will again be off the charts. Midfielder Matty Longstaff had one of three goal line clearances for the Magpies, but goalkeeper Martin Dubrvka denied a pair of strong chances from Wolves with highlight reel stuff. The Slovakian No. 1 is one of Newcastle’s heroes.

3. Almiron finding his stride: Forget the three goals in five matches, Almiron is delivering an all-around game to back up the support he received during his 27-match goal drought. The former Atlanta United man completed five of five dribbles, won 10 of 13 challenges, and was credited with five tackles and two interceptions. He was the easy Man of the Match, and his goal was a beauty, too.


Miguel Almiron dribbled 40-plus yards to cut a shot toward goal, but a diving Rui Patricio saw it sail wide of the frame.

He got his goal two minutes later, Jetro Willems and Dwight Gayle working the ball down the left before the latter poked a ball onto the Paraguayan’s path for a fine finish.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Paul Dummett added to Newcastle’s injury woes when he left after a dozen minutes for Florian Lejeune.

Wolves answered moments later, Dendoncker losing Federico Fernandez for a set piece goal with minimal defending at best.

Gayle then also left with an injury, Newcastle’s fifth first half injury change in 73 first half minutes across two matches.

The Magpies got another shining save from goalkeeper Martin Dubravka when Adama Traore picked out Raul Jimenez for a back post header.

Matty Longstaff provided another goal line clearance when Matt Doherty threatened goal in the 47th, and Dubravka denied Pedro Neto with a point blank save late on.

Wolves star Traore confirms NFL interest

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Adama Traore has confirmed that plans were in place for him to attend NFL tryouts as a teenager.

It was revealed by his teammate Romain Saiss that the Wolves winger was so quick when he urged to switch from soccer to American football.

Traore, 23, confirmed that there was interest and his trainer in Barcelona was keen for him to switch sports.

“Yes, that happened. When I was in Barcelona, my personal trainer at the time told me he had a friend from the USA. He said why couldn’t I go there and try the testing that they (NFL teams) do,” Traore told the Daily Mail. “I didn’t think about it. I thought it was funny. My dream was to be a football player. And it’s going well. It can be better – always. But it’s going well.”

Well, Adama, in the soccer world we are glad you stuck to soccer.

Traore has taken a while to get going in England but after his initial arrival at Aston Villa from Barcelona in 2015 to his move to Middelsbrough and now at Wolves, the powerful winger has really found his feet during the 2019-20 Premier League season.

He has finally added end product to his incredible pace and power and Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo always kept faith in Traore, even deploying him in a more defensive role this season.

His best position is out wide and he has four goals and four assists to his name so far this season, as he’s ripped apart Man City twice and his partnership with Raul Jimenez in the final third has added an extra dimension to the Wolves attack.

What would his best position have been in NFL? Running back or a small tight end, probably. His explosive pace is unreal and as we’ve seen with Christian Wade switching from rugby to the NFL, there has been some success swapping sports but obviously soccer is very different to the NFL.

If any player in the Premier League can make the crossover a success, it would be Traore.

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.

Guardiola: ‘It is not realistic to think about the title race’

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It’s late December, and Manchester City are trailing top-of-the-table Liverpool by 14 points after Pep Guardiola side’s late collapse fueled Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 3-2 comeback on Friday.

[ MORE: Three things we learned: Wolves 3-2 Manchester City ]

This is far from what anyone associated with the defending champions expected by this time of year, but as the Spaniard boss says, it has been his team’s new reality for some time now – chasing Liverpool (Leicester City) for the top position in the league. To the BBC and Amazon Prime:

“It is big for a long time,” Guardiola said after his side’s second, league loss of December. “It is not realistic to think about the title race. I have been asked the question for a long time and it is the same answer.”

As expected, 10-man City were outmatched in virtually every match stat on Friday, losing possession by more than 20 percent. Raheem Sterling put the visitor’s up by two goals in the 50th minute, but a late surge from Wolves – fueled by Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s substitutions – buckled the defending champions.

Guardiola recognizes that such crumble was due to having one less player on the field, but that his staff and his player’s can’t dwell too much on the loss or the fact that they’re 14 points behind the Reds.

“Eighty minutes 10 against 11 is so tough, so demanding. We could not defend the result. We have to think of the next game and about winning our games. It’s unrealistic to think about that [catching Liverpool]. In 48 hours we have another game.”

Similar to the initial tone of Guardiola, Bernardo Silva admitted that a once-in-a-lifetime comeback to win the title is going to be “very difficult” for the back-to-back champions to pull off.

“It is a really bad situation for us. A frustrating first half of the season. Nobody expected us to be this far away from Liverpool at this halfway point. We have to continue now. We know that winning the title is very complicated. I wouldn’t say impossible but very difficult.”

Just like Guardiola says that it’s unrealistic for City to dream about winning the title, it might be unrealistic to think that Liverpool aren’t going to win it all.