Wolves unbeaten in 7 after sinking Aston Villa

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Wolves ran their Premier League unbeaten streak to seven with a 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa at the Molineux on Sunday.

Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez supplied the goals, a clean sheet spoiled by Trezeguet’s stoppage time tally.

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Wolves now sit eighth with 16 points, five more than 17th place Aston Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Wolves again ready to threaten the Top Six: A slow start to the season, rife with Europa League congestion, had Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves wallowing in the Bottom Three. No more. Wolves’ only loss since September was a League Cup defeat against Villa, who fought hard but didn’t have the hosts’ level of class on Sunday. Look out (again) for Nuno’s men.

2. Stop us if you’ve read this one before: The old, worn-out maxim that “(Player X) only scores bangers” comes very close to being true when it comes to Ruben Neves. The 22-year-old hasn’t met a shot from distance he doesn’t love, but this one off the training ground was the right call at the right time. And the seeing-eye quality of it all…

3. El Tri’s target man keeps firing: Raul Jimenez’s finished off the scoring with his 13th goal in 22 matches across all competitions, many of them coming late in matches. The Mexican forward also has three assists, and he continues to deliver for Nuno Espirito Santo in tight affairs.

Man of the Match: Adama Traore — The recent Spain call-up was all over the field as usual, hitting the woodwork with a shot and grabbing an assist. Credited with an absurd nine successful dribbles, his development under Nuno has been nothing short of sensational.


Wolves had the first two corners of the match, and Villa was soon forced into a change when second choice keeper Jed Steer — filling in for injured Tom Heaton — suffered a leg injury and limped off the pitch.

He was replaced by Norwegian international Orjan Nyland, who arrived from Ingolstadt in 2018 and played 23 times in the Villa’s promotion campaign.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Diogo Jota misread a 3v2 break, then headed to Nyland under pressure.

Then a short free kick routine set up Ruben Neves in his office, and he delivered with typical aplomb.

Jota‘s second half bid to make it 2-0 was well-saved by Nyland.

PL Sunday Preview: Wolves, Man United in action; Liverpool host Man City

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features the likes of Wolves, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Brighton all in action. It is also headlined by the biggest match of the season yet: Liverpool vs Manchester City.

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Wolves vs. Aston Villa — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Just weeks removed from a EFL Cup bout between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa that saw the latter come out victorious 2-1, both West Midland sides will meet again.

This time, however, the scenario will be distinct. Both sides won’t meet at Villa Park; instead,  Stadium will be the stadium of choice. Second-choice sides will not be front and center. It’s a league match, both teams will lineup with the best they have to offer and, as a result the intensity, will be vastly fiercer.

That’s if Wolves have the legs for that scenario to be a reality in the first place.

With Europa League added to an already daunting schedule, Nuno Espirito Santo and company have played eight matches since the start of October, averaging more than one per week. Villa, who’ve lost back to back league matches, are mindful of that and hope it will benefit them when all is said and done.

“They’re very tough to beat, they’ve got great organization and structure,” Villa manager Dean Smith ahead of Sunday’s derby. “They’ve got players who can score goals having gone to Manchester City and won, gone to Arsenal and equalized to come away with a point…so they’ll feel they’re in a run of form.”

“People look from the outside and think ‘is the amount of games they’re playing going to catch up with them?,'” he added. “We’re hopeful that is does on Sunday.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Gibbs-White (back), Boly (leg)| Aston Villa — OUT: Keenan Davis (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Brighton and Hove Albion — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

Brighton and Hove Albion have never won at Old Trafford.

Graham Potter and his group of players want to make history and change that against a historically-poor Manchester United.

“It would be great to get a result this weekend at one of the best places in world football,” Potter said. “Their quality is undoubted and we respect that – but we want to go there and be ourselves and take on the challenge in a positive way.”

Brighton are in positive form, sitting eighth on the table and two points clear of United, who haven’t had a start to the season as dreadful as 2019’s – 13 points in 11 matches – since 1986 under Ron Atkinson. In their last four bouts, Brighton have earned victories in three, defeating Tottenham, Everton and Norwich City.

It’s all very different for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Red Devils.

Despite a convincing 3-0 win over a paltry Partizan midweek, the pressure at Old Trafford keeps looming over the injury-riddled team, who lost their previous league match against Bournemouth 1-0. Time and time again, the questions have been asked, but the answers have yet to surface.

Even then, Solskjaer feels their latest Europa League victory has left them with a blueprint.

“This is a little bit of a template on how we want to play, definitely,” the Norwegian manager stated following his team’s win on Thursday. “No disrespect to Partizan, but they gave us spaces. Of course after we scored the first goal, they went forward.”

“These boys are learning,” he added. “Tonight will give them loads of pointers of how to play. Even though the opposition is not the same as in the Premier League, it was still good principles.”

Nowhere was the word “consistency” mentioned, however. If they want to right the ship, they’ll need to learn it.

INJURIES: Manchester United — OUT: Dalot (hip), Matic (knock), Luke Shaw (thigh), Tuanzebe (hip), Eric Bailly (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Pogba (ankle); SUSPENDED: Ashley Young (one match) | Brighton — OUT: Bernardo (knee), Izquierdo (knee), Webster (ankle)

Liverpool vs. Manchester City — 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBCS and NBCSports.com

It’s the match everyone had circled on their calendars: Jurgen Klopp‘s unbeaten Liverpool against Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City in front of a sold-out Anfield.

It’s the type of spectacle that requires no added hype, even though Klopp did just that heading into the season’s biggest match yet.

“From a sport’s point of view this rivalry is getting bigger and bigger,” the German manager said in front of an eager press conference room this weekend. “Thank god there is a rivalry because it means we are a pretty good team as well.”

“If you are not brave against Man City you don’t have the chance of even a point,” he added. “Everyone has to be in top shape in the stadium on Sunday, even the guy selling the hotdogs. Everyone has to be there from the warm-up and invest all our emotions.”

With City in position to jump to second and be only three points from Liverpool with a win, the match promises to have it all. And Guardiola main message is urging his players to leave it all on the field when they take on the league’s favorites.

“I just want my team to fight to the end,” the 48-year-old said. “Liverpool are a team that lost one game last season, none this season, so you cannot believe that they will lose many, but the season is long.”

“They do everything well,” he added. “You see the team, what is the weak point? They are a real complete team and we need this kind of rival.”

That said, City is stuffed with injuries – namely, Ederson and David Silva, who were both unable to recover and get fit for Sunday’s clash. Claudio Bravo, who saw a red card midweek in Champions League play, will be between the sticks for the defending champions.

What many think will prove to be problematic for the visitors, is the opposite of loss of quality for Guardiola. The Spaniard is convinced that the Chilean goalkeeper has the ability and is of the pedigree to play in matches of such stature.

“He is an exceptional goalkeeper,” Guardiola said. “He is an international goalkeeper. I have no doubts.

“Why shouldn’t I be confident about my players? I see him every day in training. We won’t lose because of Claudio.

“The red card the other day was because we lost the ball,” he added. Respect the guy. He is a top keeper.”

Surely, Liverpool, led by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, will look to exploit any deficiencies City puts forward. For now, those deficiencies are unknown.

What is public knowledge, however, is that very few matches – if any – this season will be as big as Sunday’s.

INJURIES: Liverpool  OUT: Joel Matip (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee) | Manchester City  OUT: Ederson (knock), Rodri (hamstring), David Silva (thigh), Zinchenko (knee), Leroy Sané (knee), Laporte (knee)

El Tri’s Jimenez the hero of Wolves win

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Raul Jimenez made it two-for-two, scoring another match winner for Wolves against Slovan Bratislava in Europa League play.

The big, bad man headed home a deflected Adama Traore cross in the second of a dozen stoppage time minutes, giving Wolves a 1-0 win at the Molineux.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Wolves are now on the precipice of the knockout rounds, a point back of leaders Braga. They sit five clear of third place Slovan Bratislava, who beat Besiktas despite a goal from USMNT winger Tyler Boyd.

Jimenez now has 12 goals and 3 assists in 21 matches this season.

Live, Europa League: Man United v. Partizan, Wolves v. Slovan Bratislava

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Two Premier League teams are in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday, as crunch time has arrived in Matchweek 4.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ] 

Man United host Partizan Belgrade knowing a win will secure their spot in the Round of 32, as Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s men won 1-0 in Serbia two weeks ago. United have once again rotated their squad as they remain unbeaten in the Europa League despite their poor start to the Premier League season.

In Group K Wolves will aim to put themselves in a commanding position as they host Slovan Bratislava at Molineux. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men fought back to win 2-1 against Slovan in Slovakia last time out, and another win will leave them with one foot in the knockout rounds.

Elsewhere Rangers host Porto in a pivotal clash in Group G, while Wolfsburg and Gent do battle as they’re joint top of Group I and Roma head to Borussia Monchengladbach in a key encounter in a very tight Group J.

Below is the schedule in full for the games which kick off at 3 p.m. ET.


Early games (kick off time, 3 p.m. ET)

Manchester United v. Partizan Belgrade
Feyenoord v. Young Boys
FC Porto v. Glasgow Rangers
Ferencvaros v. CSKA Moscow
Espanyol v. Ludogorets
Wolfsburg v. Gent
Oleksandriya v. St Etienne
Wolfsberg v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Roma
Braga v. Besiktas
Wolves v. Slovan Bratislava

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves eye qualification

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Manchester United midfielder Fred wants to get Europa League knockout round qualification done and dusted on the double.

United hosts Partizan Belgrade at 3 p.m. ET Thursday, and a win would boost them six points clear of their visitors with two matches to play.

Fred said he’s hopeful not just for the place in the next round, but to help more of the squad get playing time.#UEL

“It will also provide more opportunities for players to get a run of games, which is very important as we have a lot of games coming up and will need the entire squad, so to have already achieved qualification is important,” said Fred. “With this run of games coming up, we’ll be gradually putting the pieces together over these fixtures.”

[ MORE: Atalanta 1-1 Man City | Red Star 0-4 Spurs ]

The Red Devils will bid to achieve that goal without Victor Lindelof, who was an unused sub for the 1-0 win in Serbia.

Meanwhile, Wolves are home to face Slovan Bratislava in a Group K which is anything but straightforward.

The Premier League side is a point back of Braga’s seven, and sits two clear of Thursday’s visitors. Besiktas, stunningly, is without a point through three matches.

Nuno Espirito Santo said the advantage is not enough, and Wolves cannot expect to be safe for the knockout rounds.

“We are always confident, we cannot expect things to happen, we have to make them happen,” he said. “We have to play the game, we are ready to compete and Slovan are a very tough team. Competing well is more important (than thinking about qualifying).”

Arsenal failed in its early bid to earn a place in the Europa League knockout rounds, but an Eintracht Frankfurt defeat of Standard Liege in Belgium could send both the Gunners and Eintracht there.

Other notable UEL Thursday fixtures

Lazio v. Celtic — 12:55 p.m. ET

Rangers v. Porto — 3 p.m. ET

Wolfsburg v. Gent — 3 p.m. ET

Borussia Monchengladbach v. Roma — 3 p.m. ET

Braga v. Besiktas — 3 p.m. ET