Ricky van Wolfswinkel

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Matt Miazga, Vitesse win Dutch League Cup

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USMNT youngster Matt Miazga started and played the full 90 minutes as Vitesse Arnhem defeated AZ Alkmaar 2-0 to win the KNVB Beker. The trophy is the club’s first in its entire 125 year history.

Former Norwich City striker Ricky Van Wolfswinkel scored the winner in the 81st minute, crashing in a header past lazy AZ defenders on a pinpoint cross by 20-year-old Kosovo international Milot Rashica. The former Premier League striker struck again in the 88th minute to put the game away.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned in the North London derby ]

Miazga has been a fixture for Vitesse this season, making 21 Eredivisie appearances this season and seeing the field in every Cup game. Vitesse conceded just four goals throughout the entire Cup run, and just one over the final four games. They shut out Feyenoord in the quarterfinals, a game which Miazga was a late substitute. Vitesse also kept clean sheets against lower league opponents in Jodan Boys in the Round of 16, and again in the finals, games that Miazga saw the entire 90 minutes.

The 21-year-old American is on loan from Chelsea, and after a slow start, has earned a significant place in the side. In the latest 10 league matches for Vitesse, Miazga has played the full 90 minutes in eight of them, with five wins and two clean sheets in that span. Vitesse sits in ninth position in the Eredivisie table, but their problems have come more so up front, as they’ve conceded just 38 goals in 34 matches, better than all but the top two teams in the table.

Another Chelsea loanee, central midfielder Lewis Baker, finished the competition as its top scorer, bagging five goals in Cup games. The 22-year-old England youth international had a brace in the 2-1 semifinal win over Sparta Rotterdam. Chelsea is known for its loan relationship with Vitesse, with four players currently loaned to the Dutch club.

Norwich City striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel signs with former club Vitesse Arnhem

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Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Norwich City’s record transfer at the time of his purchase from Sporting CP in 2013, is moving on after a largely unsuccessful four-year stint with the Canaries.

The 27-year-old has returned to his home country, moving to Vitesse Arnhem – the club he went professional with as a 19-year-old. Van Wolfswinkel made his professional debut in April of 2008 with Vitesse, and now returns for an undisclosed fee.

Van Wolfswinkel came to Norwich in 2013 with much fanfare, signing for a reported fee of $11 million – a club record signing at the time.

He proceeded to score just a single goal in 25 appearances during his first season in the Premier League, with Norwich finding itself relegated. He moved to Ligue 1 on loan with Norwich in the Championship, but still managed just five goals in 28 league appearances with St. Etienne. He never made another appearance for the Canaries, instead moving on loan again Real Betis last season, but flopped there too, scoring just once in 16 league appearances.

“I debuted in professional football on behalf of Vitesse and that is something you never forget,” van Wolfswinkel said upon signing. “After several foreign adventures I look forward to returning to the Dutch fields. I hope to find my niche and want to play well and add many goals and assists for Vitesse.”

Watch Live: Southampton vs Norwich City (Lineups and Live Stream)

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Struggling Southampton meets newly-promoted Norwich in a battle of teams looking to build momentum at St. Mary’s, live at 8:30am E.T. on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Last year the Saints made noise by qualifying for the Europa League despite selling a host of high-value players in the summer. This season, things aren’t going as well as the club has already crashed out of Europe, have yet to win in Premier League play, and continues to bleed important players.

WATCH LIVE: Southampton vs Norwich City live on NBC Sports Live Extra

Victor Wanyama remains out of the Southampton squad after rumors he wishes to leave, with manager Ronald Koeman saying he isn’t “physically or mentally good enough to play.” In his place remains Oriol Romeu who makes his second start in the midfield after receiving his full debut last week against Watford.

Jay Rodriguez sits this week in favor of Graziano Pelle up front. Jordy Clasie has a hamstring issue and cannot make the squad, while young Matt Targett continues to deputize for Ryan Bertrand.

For Norwich City, they have an important win over Sunderland thus far into their new Premier League campaign, and followed it up with a solid draw against Stoke City last week as the club looks to gain momentum and points early in the season to ease their burden later. Lewis Grabban has been suspended by the club for walking out on the team prior to a cup match midweek, which brings Ricky van Wolfswinkel onto the bench in support of starting striker Cameron Jerome.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Stekelenburg, Cédric, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, Romeu, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Tadić, Mané, Pellè.
Bench: 
K. Davis, Long, Rodriguez, Martina, Reed, Juanmi, Caulker.

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Tettey, Dorrans, Howson; Hoolahan; Jerome.
Bench: 
Rudd, Wisdom, Johnson, Hooper, R Bennett, O’Neil, van Wolfswinkel.

League Cup roundup: 10 of 11 Premier League clubs advance, Watford falls

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It was a good day for Premier League clubs in the Capital One League Cup, as ten teams won to advance into the third round.

The only PL club to fall today was newly promoted Watford, who lost 1-0 to Championship side Preston North End. The Hornets have gotten points in all three of their Premier League matches, but are now out of the League Cup in disappointing fashion.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Sunderland 6-3 Exeter City: Jermain Defoe bagged a hat trick in a wild game at the Stadium of Light, as Sunderland came out on top of a match that was tied 3-3 at halftime. Despite the win, conceding three goals at home to a team from the fourth-tier of English football is not a good look for Dick Advocaat’s side.

Luton Town 1-1 (7-8 PKs) Stoke City: The Potters looked poised to move on until Luton Town found an equalizer in the 91st minute to force extra-time. The match went to penalty kicks, where the USMNT’s Geoff Cameron scored the game-winning goal for Stoke City.

Aston Villa 5-3 (a.e.t.) Notts County: Adama Traore scored his first goal as a Villan, while Scott Sinclair tallied a hat trick to lead Aston Villa to a shaky win over Notts County. The League Two side led three times, but Villa fought back to escape an embarrassing defeat.

[ MORE: Watch full Premier League match replays ]

Bury 1-4 Leicester City: Twenty-year-old Joe Dodoo scored a hat trick in his Foxes debut, as Andrej Kramaric scored his first goal of the season for Claudio Ranieri’s men.

Crystal Palace 4-1 (a.e.t.) Shrewsbury Town: Tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, Crystal Palace scored three goals in extra-time to defeat third-tier Shrewsbury Town.

Hartlepool United 0-4 Bournemouth: The Cherries were up 3-0 at halftime as Eddie Howe’s side cruised to an easy win over League Two’s Hartlepool.

Newcastle United 4-1 Northampton Town: Florian Thauvin scored his first goal for Newcastle just three minutes into the match, as the Magpies found themselves up 2-0 after eight minutes and never looked back.

Watford v Southampton - Premier League
Watford was the only PL team to lose today in the League Cup.

Preston North End 1-0 Watford: The only Premier League side to fall today, Watford fell behind within ten minutes and failed to find an equalizer in a very poor result for Quique Flores’ side.

Rotherham 1-2 Norwich City: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel scored his first goal for Norwich City since his debut in 2013 as the Canaries held on to beat Championship side Rotherham United.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

Swansea City 3-0 York City: A second-string Swans’ side made light work of fourth-division York City, with goals coming from Nathan Dyer, Matt Grimes, and Marvin Emnes.

West Bromwich Albion 0-0 (5-3 PKs) Port Vale: West Brom just scraped by League One’s Port Vale, as the Baggies needed extra-time and then penalty kicks to advance to the third round. With Saido Berahino possibly on his way out at The Hawthorns, getting held scoreless for 120 minutes shows West Brom may be in for some trouble.

Other results from around the League Cup

Birmingham City 2-0 Gillingham
Burton Albion 1-2 (a.e.t.) Middlesbrough
Doncaster Rovers 1-4 Ipswich Town
Fulham 3-0 Sheffield United
Hull City 1-0 Rochdale
Peterborough United 1-4 Charlton Athletic
Portsmouth 1-2 Reading
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Carlisle United
Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Oxford United
Walsall 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Barnet
MK Dons 2-1 (a.e.t.) Cardiff City

Cardiff, Blackburn draw as Championship season opens this weekend

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A 1-1 draw between recently relegated Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers has opened the English second-tier season.

The Bluebirds along with Fulham and Norwich City are looking to make a quick return to the Premier League, and all three have made tilled their roster completely in an attempt to vault back up.

In addition, Wolverhampton Wanderers continue their roller coaster run through English soccer, with their plummet down the ranks behind them and back in the Championship.

The fixtures for opening weekend:

Blackburn 1-1 Cardiff City
Ipswich Town v Fulham
Wolves v Norwich City (Sunday)
Brentford v Charlton
Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday
Derby County v Rotherham
Huddersfield Town v Bournemouth
Middlesborough v Birmingham City
Millwall v Leeds United
Nottingham Forest v Blackpool
Watford v Bolton
Wigan v Reading

For the teams we saw struggle on NBC last season, the first season down is the most important. Teams that don’t jump straight back up – like Queens Park Rangers did this past year – tend to wallow in the lower tiers for a long time.

Fulham completely churned their roster over, under the watchful eye of Felix Magath who had some strong words for current and former players in his press conference earlier Friday. Gobs of players left, and not all had good things to say about the man in charge.

With the purchase of Ross McCormack along with eight other offseason signings, it’s likely that not a single player who opened last year’s fateful Premier League season will be in their opening day lineup against Ipswich Town. There are more questions than answers right now at Craven Cottage.

Cardiff kicked off their season with a fair draw against Blackburn, bringing to light just how small the talent and skill gap is between the bottom of the Premier League and the middle of the Championship.

Their biggest move in the transfer market may not have been a move at all, but instead the ability to keep hold of star keeper David Marshall. The 29-year-old was by one of the few bright spots in last year’s failed campaign, and he was linked with a number of Premier League clubs. Otherwise, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did little in the market, instead standing still as both Gary Medel and Jordan Mutch moved on.

Norwich City have flown the most under the radar of the three dropped clubs. They lost strike flop Ricky van Wolfswinkel to St. Etienne, and replaced him with journeymen Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban.  They have kept Leroy Fer despite outside interest, but could not hold onto winger Robert Snodgrass who moved to Hull City over the summer.

Will any of the three be back in the Premier League next season? It’s a long 42-match marathon, but the race is under way.  24 clubs, three lucrative spots. Who will make it up to the top flight?