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Wolves boss Espirito Santo not a fan of VAR

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It comes as little surprise that Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was upset to have a goal chalked off by VAR in a scoreless draw with Leicester City.

What may come as a surprise, though, is Espirito Santo’s full-throated questioning of the use of video review at all.

[ RECAP: Leicester-Wolves ]

Espirito Santo will earn a lot of fans amongst the VAR skeptics with this analysis/rant regarding the overturning of Leander Dendoncker‘s goal due to Willy Boly handling the ball before the Belgian bundled over the line.

“I haven’t seen the images but I trust them. If they saw it, what can we do?” he said. “Things that weren’t before shouldn’t be now. We have such a nice Premier League, such a product, we cannot lose that.”

He continued (via BBC.com):

“It’s what fans come for, to celebrate, not to celebrate a no goal; That’s not the real celebration of football. It’s not good for the atmosphere of football. The Leicester fans were celebrating the no goal, that’s not the mindset of the game.

“What I’m concerned about is, let’s not ruin the game. Two minutes the game stopped. The anxiety of us celebrating, then we waited. It’s not the spirit of the game.”

Do you agree, or have you just accepted that this is the future of sport?

The three points would’ve been glorious for a Wolves side which played Thursday in Armenia, but one will be valuable given it came against a Foxes side expected to compete for a Top Seven place in the Premier League.

Nothing to separate Leicester, Wolves in opener

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Leicester City couldn’t find a way past Europa League weary Wolves, who saw a goal overturned in a dull 0-0 draw at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leander Dendoncker bundled a loose ball over the line, but it had glanced off Wily Boly’s arm and VAR overturned the marker.


Three things we learned

1. Possession without finish is nothing; Leicester had 70 percent of the ball but could not finish despite taking almost 400 more touches than Wolves

2. It’s early to say that Wolves’ failure to do much besides clear the ball was down to depth, but the club certainly looked like one who won 4-0 over Pyunik in Armenia on Thursday

3. VAR is not just a bummer for the aggrieved club, it hurts fantasy owners. Dendoncker is a very cheap option and, frankly, we momentarily hated VAR.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Ndidi.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Watch Live: Newcastle-Arsenal, Leicester-Wolves

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Four more teams begin their Premier League seasons at 9 a.m. ET Sunday as Newcastle, Arsenal, Leicester City, and Wolves take their bows on the NBC family of networks.

It’ll be Arsenal and Newcastle United at St. James’ Park, where Steve Bruce makes his managerial debut with record signing Joelinton atop an attack with previous record signing Miguel Almiron underneath (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac did not travel to Newcastle for safety reasons in the follow-up to a robbery attempt made on Ozil’s vehicle last earlier this month.

Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, and David Luiz are all on the bench for Arsenal.

LINEUPS


Over on CNBC, two clubs with Top Seven ambitions kick off their seasons at 9 a.m. ET in Leicester (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes see Ayoze Perez starting in attack after his move from Newcastle.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves played Thursday in the Europa League, and keep new signing Patrick Cutrone on the bench.

Which outsiders have hope of breaking into Premier League’s Top Six?

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With unproven managers at Chelsea and Manchester United and a possible David Luiz-Shkrodan Mustafi center back partnership at Arsenal, there are scenarios in which the seas part and a new team finishes in the Top Six for the first time since Chelsea and Liverpool crashed out of the picture in 2015-16.

Wolves will like their chances, having made Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker permanent members of the team and buying Patrick Cutrone, Pedro Neto, and Bruno Jordao from Serie A.

[ MORE: PST’s PL preview roundtable ]

But they’ll face a loaded fixture list thanks to the Europa League (assuming they don’t exit at the hands of Armenia’s Pyunik in the third qualifying round or a similar foe in the playoff round). The first group stage date is sandwiched between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on the league docket, the second between Watford and Man City.

That’s a test of depth, one of which most of their players are taking for the first time.

Then there’s Everton, which has amassed some serious experience and guile even amongst its youngsters. Moise Kean arrives from Juventus, while Andre Gomes, Djibril Sidibe, and Fabian Delph are no strangers to silverware.

If Jean-Philippe Gbamin can quickly adapt to the league to combine with Delph and provide 75 percent of what Idrissa Gana Gueye gave the club, look out.

West Ham is another interesting one: Issa Diop was a revelation at center back and the club is close to keeping a hold of Felipe Anderson.

The Irons have finally added their prototypical center forward and should be nice and settled at the London Stadium. The question is whether West Ham can rewrite their organizational reputation this season.

There are arguments to be made for Watford and even Aston Villa, but those seem a bit farfetched unless the Hornets are seriously out-scouting the rest of the world.

So we’ll finish with Leicester City, who needs to hope that Jamie Vardy can keep holding off the hands of time and youngsters Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi can take a hold of the team to take the next step as stars.

There are enough ancillary pieces in Ayoze Perez and Demarai Gray, as well as gleaming potential stars like Harvey Barnes and James Maddison.

But the question of how they’ll replace Harry Maguire is a real one, as is the big Brendan Rodgers effort: Can he focus the club the way he did when Liverpool had a Europe-free year in 2013-14, and take advantage of the fixture list to ride into the top tier?

Europa League preview: Wolves prepare for odd digs

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Wolves bring a 2-0 lead into the second leg of its Europa League tie with Crusaders FC, but will have an unusual experience in Belfast.

For one thing, the Northern Irish club plays on turf. For another, the Seaview Stadium holds fewer than 3,400.

[ MORE: UEL fixture list, scores ]

“Let’s see how they adapt,” said Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo. “They don’t have a lot of experience but they assure me that with water it is almost like a natural grass.”

Wolves will not have new signing Patrick Cutrone in Belfast, but will have the crew which qualified for the UEL and has the side 90 minutes from the third qualifying round and a date with either Czech side Jablonek or Armenia’s Pyunik.

It’s one of a bevy of UEL second legs set for Thursday, with one in Wednesday’s book: Molde beat Cukaricki 3-1.