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LIVE, FA Cup replays: Man United v. Wolves headlines

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Manchester United host Wolverhampton Wanderers in their FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday as the teams separated by just three points in the Premier League table lock horns.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

The Red Devils host Wolves after a 0-0 draw at Molineux and although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to continue to rotate his squad, he knows this competition presents a very serious chance to win some silverware this season. So too do Wolves and Nuno Espirito Santo has gone with a full strength team despite a few inconsistent displays in recent weeks.

Whoever prevails at Old Trafford will face a trip to either Tranmere Rovers or Watford in the next round, as their replay was postponed on Tuesday due to bad weather across England.

Wednesday’s other FA Cup replay sees fourth-tier Carlisle United host second-tier Cardiff City, as the winner will play away at Reading in the next round. Both games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action from Old Trafford and Brunton Park, as a place in the fourth round awaits and both games will go to extra time and penalties, if needed.

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.

Watford holds on through red card to topple Wolves

Watford Wolves recap
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Watford built a two-goal lead and held on through a 71st minute red card to beat Wolves 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nigel Pearson‘s men have now won three of four matches and are two points back of safety with 19 points.

Gerard Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure scored the goals, the latter on his 27th birthday.

As for Wolves, they fail in a bid to strengthen their top-end credentials and sit seventh with 30 points.


Three things we learned

1. Deulofeu one of the season’s X-factors: Watford got 10 league goals with five assists out of the Spaniard last season, but the 25-year-old hasn’t been able to do as much this go-round. Ismaila Sarr is now humming along, too, and Watford’s attack finding it footing.

Wednesday’s goal was Deulofeu’s fourth of the season, and it’s interesting to note the change in production from his first Premier League stint. At Everton, Deulofeu had eight goals and 19 assists in 75 matches, compared to now 17 and eight in 63 for the Hornets.

2. Wolves losing hope of Top Four: Wolves are playing as many games as anyone in Europe, and maybe this was all a big ask given the brutal fixture list; Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men were unlucky versus Liverpool but not sharp enough Wednesday in losing a second-successive loss. Their twin wins over Man City show that anything is possible, but they really needed to grab these points before the Europa League fixture list begins to torture them again.

3. Mentality fixed under Pearson: Nigel Pearson’s men could’ve wilted given the opposition and the red card, but stood firm against a very good Wolves side to move even closer to the safe spaces. They’ll finish the day between two and four points back of safety, which seemed silly mere weeks ago. Right now, it looks like Watford has a chance to return to their plucky and potent team of last season.

Man of the Match: Most of the best individual days belonged to Wolves, but Deulofeu was part of a lively attack and gets our nod.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Conor Coady sent Matt Doherty through to goal in the 13th minute, but Ben Foster continued his fine form with a big save.

Wolves wanted a penalty when Pedro Neto hit the deck in the box, but a yellow card was given and VAR stayed with the call.

Deulofeu gave Watford the lead with a curling finish around Rui Patricio. Ismaila Sarr continued his good form with the assist, as the Hornets scored with their fifth attempt of the night.

Sarr came close to a goal of his own when Troy Deeney played him into the right of the 18.

Doucoure made it 2-0 coming out of the break when Deulofeu dribbled to the middle and laid off wide, a hard deflected strike leaving Patricio for dead.

The hour mark saw the match back in play thanks to Neto’s first Premier League goal, a deflected effort from distance.

Jonny Otto won a dangerous free kick for Wolves and a man advantage, too, when he was fouled by Christian Kabasele in the 72nd. The Watford defender sent off, and Wolves were unable to equalize up a man over 19 minutes.

Watch Live: Saints v. Tottenham headlines 10am ET games

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Three Premier League games take center stage on New Year’s Day at 10 a.m. ET.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Southampton host Tottenham, Leicester travel to Newcastle and Watford host Wolves.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the three games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle v. Leicester – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Watford v. Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

How January will affect the Premier League’s Top Four race

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It will be 2020 the next time a ball in kicked in Premier League action, making the tales at both ends of the table feel more serious.

We’ll save the relegation talk for another day. For one thing, wild point swings and droughts in the bottom half of the table are a lot more common than the top.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The table enters January in a weird place. Everton and Arsenal face double-digit distances from the Top Four and aren’t even making this post. That’s not to say the Gunners nor Toffees aren’t capable, but we can revisit their statuses if they get to a new level.

First off, look at Liverpool: That 13-point lead with a match of hand is striking. Good night. Congrats. Barring a red wedding more grisly than Game of Thrones, we’ve got new Premier League overlords.

[ MORE: Premier League midseason grades ]

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 19 18 1 0 47 14 33 10-0-0 8-1-0 55
 Leicester City 20 13 3 4 43 19 24 7-2-1 6-1-3 42
 Manchester City 20 13 2 5 54 23 31 7-1-2 6-1-3 41
 Chelsea 20 11 2 7 35 28 7 4-2-4 7-0-3 35
 Manchester United 20 8 7 5 32 23 9 5-4-1 3-3-4 31
 Tottenham Hotspur 20 8 6 6 36 29 7 6-2-2 2-4-4 30
 Wolves 20 7 9 4 29 25 4 4-4-2 3-5-2 30
 Sheffield United 20 7 8 5 23 19 4 4-2-4 3-6-1 29

Leicester City: There are legitimate reasons to suspect the Foxes could lose their seemingly significant foothold in the Top Four. For one thing, they are the luckiest team in the league not named Liverpool or Newcastle according to the xG table.

As silly as this sounds, though, January is Leicester’s last legitimate obstacle. The Foxes have at least seven games in January thanks to a pair of League Cup semifinal dates and an FA Cup quarterfinal (eight if they beat Wigan as expected).

Brendan Rodgers showed us that his men can handle poor teams with a B team when they beat West Ham on Saturday. The other teams on January’s docket: Newcastle, Wigan (FA Cup), Aston Villa x2 (League Cup), Southampton, Burnley, West Ham.

They need to stack enough points to make February’s three-match stretch versus Chelsea, Wolves, and Man City navigable. It’s going to be a battle for fourth, but the lack of European action helps them in a big way.

Man City: The two-time reigning champs will also face a busy month, but they’re used to that. Up ahead are Everton, Port Vale (FA Cup), Manchester United x2 (League Cup), Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, and Sheffield United. If Aymeric Laporte returns and there are no major injuries, City should finish second. Even focusing on the Champions League, they’ll finish Top Four with ease barring some sort of injury plague (which they’ve already handled to some extent).

Chelsea: The Blues’ four league matches are Brighton away, Burnley home, Newcastle away, and Arsenal home. An FA Cup date with Nottingham Forest shouldn’t be a huge issue, either, though the Reds are doing alright in the Championship. Chelsea is likely to spend big this January after a summer without additions, and the Blues feel like a safe bet to deliver third.

Man Utd: This is a rough month for the Red Devils, beginning with a visit to Arsenal on Wednesday. The cup draws weren’t kind to them, with Wolves in the FA Cup and two Manchester Derbies in the League Cup. There’s also a visit to Liverpool between Norwich City and Burnley league dates. Tough one. The League Cup derbies and January transfer action will tell us a lot about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s bunch.

Spurs: Three bottom-half opponents and a visit from Liverpool make for a promising month, as Jose Mourinho can collect a statement win and a place in fourth. It’s away to Boro in the FA Cup, so there’s likely a sixth game depending on how Mourinho wants to play it. Spurs will be right in the thick of it come February.

Wolves: Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are used to schedule congestion, so they may feel bored by just five January matches. Watford away, Newcastle home, Saints away, and Liverpool at home will make for a promising slate to go with a visit from Manchester United in the FA Cup. At some point it feels like Wolves will run out of gas due to their insane UEL run, but they’ll be alive for the Top Four entering February.

Sheffield United: Chris Wilder‘s men have surpassed all expectations this season, but January may be a bridge too far. The Blades have trips to Liverpool and Arsenal to go with visits from West Ham and Man City. The FA Cup tie versus Fylde will be less of an issue. It’s difficult to bet against the Blades on current form, but logic says they’ll fall off a bit.