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Wolves qualify for Europa League

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Next season Wolverhampton Wanderers will play in Europe for the first time since 1981.

Courtesy of Manchester City’s victory against Watford in the FA Cup final, and their seventh place finish in the Premier League this season, Wolves will now compete in the UEFA Europa League from the second-qualifying round in 2019-20.

Wolves have enjoyed a fantastic season back in the top-flight, as Nuno Espirito Santo led his newly-promoted side to some huge victories against teams from the top six with Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota leading the way up front.

The likes of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Conor Coady, Matt Doherty and Rui Patricio also dazzled, as Wolves will aim to try and push into the top six next season.

Wolves are going on a European tour, with the first leg of the second qualifying round to be played on July 25 and the second leg on August 1.

Top Ten moments of the Premier League season

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The Premier League season is over, and it’s not difficult to find the moments that will live a bit longer than the others when we imagine the 2018-19 campaign.

[ MORE: Derby County reaches playoff final ]


10. Neil Warnock stands defiantly at midfield, stares at referees

Cardiff City didn’t do enough to stay up, but it got a lot of help from officials in its fall into the Championship.

Fortunately for us, manager Neil Warnock did not lay off of the officials who made or reversed calls he perceived as major slights to his Bluebirds.

Perhaps his best tune would be best accompanied by a version of The Robot dance.

“I always thought Mike Riley was a manufactured referee from day one,” Warnock said after a loss to Chelsea. “I don’t think he’s changed since then. He’s been coached, manufactured, almost like a robot. He knows everything about the rules, but I feel these people struggle to understand the game and the human element. A lot of referees are like Mike Riley and that’s why I think we have gone backwards. Common sense is not allowed nowadays, but the best refs still use it.”

That loss ended with Warnock standing at midfield, staring at the referee crew before stating that the Premier League is “the best league in the world with the worst officials.”

9. De Gea stuns Spurs to take Ole mania up a notch

Manchester United’s star goalkeeper was not up to his standards this season, but his performance against Tottenham Hotspur early in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era was impeccable.

Spurs dominated the Red Devils, but De Gea made 11 saves at Wembley to give OGS his first win over a top side.

8. Arsenal wins thrilling North London Derby

Arsenal finished below Tottenham Hotspur on the table, but the Gunners sent a message that they were up for the fight with a thrilling 4-2 win over Spurs on Dec. 1.

It had everything, including Mike Dean calling penalties for both sides. Arsenal outshot Spurs 22-11, and the teams combined for 13 shots on target. And the Gunners trailed 2-1 at the break!

Most importantly for the Gunners, it was a victory over their hated rivals which ran their unbeaten mark to 19 matches.

7. Wolves howl into contention with first upset

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolverhampton Wanderers became giant killers for the first time when they ended a six-match dry spell by using a second-half burst to beat Chelsea 2-1.

The win was typical of Wolves’ best days, as Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota were the goal scorers. On the season, the newly-promoted Wolves beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester United, drawing the Blues, Gunners, and Red Devils as well en route to a possible Europa League berth.

6. Mourinho’s “respect” rant

Manchester United had just lost 3-0 to Spurs at Old Trafford, but that’s not the three Jose Mourinho wanted to discuss in his post-match media briefing.

“Three-nil. Do you know what that also means? Three Premiership titles, and I also won more titles than the other 19 managers combined.”

5. Emiliano Sala‘s plane disappears

Cardiff City’s joy at the record purchase of Nantes striker Emiliano Sala soon turned to sickening grief when the Argentine’s plane was lost at sea. His body was recovered from the wreckage a few days later.

4. Pickford error gives Origi, Liverpool the derby

Everton supporters don’t need to be reminded that Liverpool had two moments of good fortune for every bit of bad luck in a run to second on the Premier League table. Jordan Pickford lost track of the ball in stoppage time to deny the Toffees a memorable point against their despised cross-town Reds.

3. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha mourned

Leicester City lost its owner in November when his helicopter crashed after leaving King Power Stadium, and the world soon learned just how deeply Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was loved by the Foxes’ faithful. The scenes at the next home game were poignant and unforgettable.

2. Kompany’s thunderbolt

Manchester City’s big Belgian leant an aire of inevitability to his side’s title defense when he busted down the door of Kasper Schmeichel and Leicester City with an absolutely stunning strike.

  1. Eleven millimeters

Let’s set the scene: Unbeaten Liverpool has a chance to put Man City in its rear view mirror at the Etihad Stadium when Sadio Mane beats the keeper and hits the post. City center back John Stones‘ effort to clear the ball hits his keeper Ederson, and the Englishman does this en route to City’s 2-1 defeat of the Reds.

Wolves boss praises Jota, Jimenez, prefers not to focus on Europa

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Nuno Espirito Santo has Wolves on the brink of seventh place, but is bristling at the notion that it will lift his promoted side in the Europa League at the first try.

The Wolves manager, buoyed by Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez, saw his side get a measure of vengeance by beating Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday to move four points clear of the pack in the race for seventh.

[ RECAP: Watford 1-2 Wolves ]

Now things would be different if Wolves had defeated Watford in the FA Cup semifinal and not required such vengeance. As it stands, Watford could beat Man City in the final and render seventh moot when it comes to the UEL.

Still, most expect Man City to handle its business at Wembley. Most. From the BBC:

“Maybe I’m the only one in the country that knows that seventh position doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s not about finishing as high as possible, but it’s about finishing as well as possible.”

“We don’t have to think about Europe. Nothing is decided and nothing is 100 percent sure. It’s Fulham in our last home game. Let’s give Molineux something.”

Wolves are back on their game after some hiccups following the semifinal setback, beating Arsenal and now Watford. But that’s actually not too far off from their season-long habit of looking like a Top Four contender against the big teams and slipping up a bit when the lights are a bit lower.

One man who’s been consistently strong is Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, who scored his 13th league goal and 17th in all competitions in the win. He also has eight assists on the season, one which gave Wolves little choice but to exercise the option to buy him from Benfica.

Still, Nuno wants more.

“Raul Jimenez has to improve himself,” he said. “The team will improve. As long as we keep together then we will become a better team.”

Diogo Jota also scored and set-up Jimenez for his marker. Jota to Jimenez is the second-top scorer-assist pairing in the league to Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser cueing up Callum Wilson.

“Jota and Jimenez have been working really hard,” said Nuno. “I truly believe the more time they spend together the more good things will happen.”

Wolves finish home to Fulham and away to Liverpool.

Wolves win at Watford to boost Europa hopes (video)

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  • Mexico’s Jimenez scores from Jota assist
  • Gray levels score
  • Jota wins it
  • Wolves four points clear of 8th

Wolverhampton Wanderers have a solid chance of qualifying for Europe, one season after promotion from the Championship.

Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota scored Saturday in a huge 2-1 win over seventh-place rivals Watford at Vicarage Road and now enjoy a four-point cushion on the Hornets as well as Everton, who drew Crystal Palace.

Watford could still take the Europa League place by beating Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. Their goal came from Andre Gray.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves had four of the match’s five shots on target, though Watford had more of the ball.

Jimenez nodded a Jota cross home to start the scoring in the 41st minute, though Watford equalized shortly after the break.

A Ryan Bennett mistake let Gray free on goal for 1-1, but Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster returned the gift when he misread a long ball from Ruben Neves and Jota headed into the yawning goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Who would make a PFA Team of the Year without Top Six teams?

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The PFA Team of the Year was dominated by Manchester City and Liverpool, to no one’s surprise, though which players comprised the team surprised many.

For example, the team may be without the league’s Golden Boot winner.

[ PL PREVIEW: Brighton v. Newcastle ]

Mohamed Salah was left off the team, likely due to his cold form while the players were voting for the peers, and he’d be an easy part of any “The Best of the Rest” list (along with Christian Eriksen, Roberto Firmino, Harry Kane, and Eden Hazard).

But we’ve added another angle, as we’ll make a “Best Outside The Top Six of the Year.” Here is a team to join the PFA Team of the Year.


“No Top Six” Team of the Year

Fabianski (West Ham)

Wan-Bissaka (Palace) – Tarkowski (Burnley) – Duffy (BHA) – Digne (Everton)

Gana Gueye (Everton) – Ndidi (Leicester City)

Felipe (West Ham)- Doucoure (Watford) – Fraser (Bournemouth)

Raul Jimenez (Wolves)

Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s 3.8 tackles per game led all backs, full or center; His 2.4 interceptions per match rate isn’t far off from the leader: Cardiff’s Sol Bamba (who just misses).

Shane Duffy and James Tarkowski lead the league in clearances, and are also 1-2 in blocked shots.

Only Hazard has more assists than Fraser’s 12, tied with Eriksen, who also is Top Two in key passes per game.

And even this list leaves out quality like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joao Moutinho, and Neil Etheridge. Wild.