Tottenham Close To Premier League Top Four After Wolves Win

Tottenham Hotspur’s Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their late winner during the English Premier League football match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on December 15, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Jan Vertonghen’s stoppage-time header continued Tottenham’s turnaround under Jose Mourinho as Spurs moved up to fifth with a 2-1 win at Wolves.

Mourinho’s men were largely outplayed at Molineux but were ruthless with their chances to inflict Wolves’ first league defeat in 12 games.

Adama Traore’s spectacular strike had cancelled out Lucas Moura’s early opener before Vertonghen stooped to guide home Christan Eriksen’s corner.

READ ALSO: I Am Alive And Bubbling – IBB

Spurs can now move into the top four before Christmas if they beat Chelsea at home next weekend.

That speaks volumes for the impact Mourinho has made in less than a month in charge as Tottenham trailed Chelsea and the top four by 12 points when he was appointed.

Wolves drop to eighth as their longest unbeaten run in the top flight since 1962 came to an end, but there was little more Nuno Espirito Santo’s men could have done to at least avoid defeat.

After an industrious start by Wolves, it was Spurs who scored after eight minutes.

Son Heung-min’s drive was beaten away by Rui Patricio but the ball was worked to Moura, who glided into the area before rifling in high from an angle for his third goal in seven games under Mourinho.

Wolves remained undaunted though and after Paulo Gazzaniga gathered Traore’s low effort they began to create openings.

Diogo Jota was a menace and it was from his work Raul Jimenez nearly levelled after 26 minutes but his low effort flashed wide.

Soon after Jota was denied by the recovering Davinson Sanchez after the defender’s initial mistake allowed the forward through.

Wolves continued to dominate but should have been 2-0 down nine minutes before the break.

Referee Stuart Attwell played a good advantage after Moura was fouled to allow Eric Dier forward.

He played a cute one-two with Dele Alli to leave the midfielder with just Patricio to beat but his low strike hit the post.

It would have been harsh on Wolves and they continued to push after the break.

Jota failed to turn in Traore’s cross and Gazzaniga pushed away Jimenez’s shot.

Spurs’ defence had lived dangerously, with Vertonghen, in particular, struggling against the pace of Traore.

Wolves finally got their reward on 67 minutes.

Traore had given the visitors problems all game and he made them pay, collecting Jimenez’s pass and unleashing a rocket which flew past Gazzaniga from 20 yards.

Tottenham then never looked like restoring their lead before the late drama.

Wolves remained the aggressors and Romain Saiss’ glancing header four minutes later forced Gazzaniga into a fine stop.

But Spurs silenced the hosts in the first minute of injury time when Vertonghen nodded in Eriksen’s corner.

AFP

Premier League: Wolves Hold Arsenal To 1-1 Draw

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez (C) scores his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 2, 2019. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal’s winless run in the Premier League stretched to three games as Raul Jimenez’s header 14 minutes from time earned Wolves a well-deserved 1-1 draw at the Emirates on Saturday.

A week on from a foul-mouthed reaction towards the Arsenal fans as he was substituted against Crystal Palace, Gunners captain Granit Xhaka was left out of the squad by Unai Emery in an attempt to ease the tension between players and supporters.

However, there was no great upturn in the Arsenal performance with doubts growing with every passing week that Emery is the man to lead Arsenal back into the Champions League next season.

Emery also responded to the Xhaka controversy by listening to the fans’ calls for Mesut Ozil’s return as the German made just his second Premier League start of the season.

However, Ozil made little impact with Arsenal again reliant on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who replaced Xhaka as captain and opened the scoring, for inspiration.

Wolves started by far the better of the two sides, but were too often reliant on potshots from long range as Bernd Leno saved from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick before Ruben Neves’s dipping effort just did not come down in time to hit the target.

Arsenal took the lead against the run of play on 21 minutes when a low cross found Alexandre Lacazette inside the area and he teed up Aubameyang to slot home his 50th goal for Arsenal.

The goal appeared to settle the Gunners’ nerves and Rui Patricio twice had to be alert to deny Lucas Torreira and Lacazette from doubling the hosts’ advantage.

However, Wolves ended the first period as they had started by posing the greater threat and only a wonderful one-handed save from Leno prevented Matt Doherty levelling from Diogo Jota’s cut-back.

Leno was the busier of the goalkeepers after the break too as he turned another long-range Neves effort to safety.

And Wolves were finally rewarded with an equaliser when Moutinho’s looping cross into the box was headed down past Leno by Jimenez.

Ozil had the chance to make himself a hero but failed to pick out an Arsenal shirt with plenty queuing up to apply the finishing touch six minutes later.

But it was Wolves who had the best chance to snatch all three points when Jota eased through a flurry of weak Arsenal challenges in the final minute only to be denied by Leno.

The final whistle was met with boos from the disgruntled home fans and Arsenal could end the weekend six points adrift of the top four if Chelsea and Leicester win later on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

AFP

Arsenal’s Xhaka To Miss Wolves Clash

A file photo of Granit Xhaka. AFP photo.

 

 

Unai Emery has confirmed Granit Xhaka will miss Arsenal’s clash with Wolves on Saturday as the Swiss midfielder’s fan feud rumbles on.

Xhaka appeared to swear at Arsenal supporters after his second-half substitution prompted sarcastic cheers and booing during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.

The 27-year-old cupped his ears, waved his arms angrily and ripped off his shirt before storming down the tunnel.

Xhaka has faced calls to be stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and he was left out for Wednesday’s League Cup defeat at Liverpool after Gunners boss Emery admitted his reaction was wrong.

READ ALSO: Bale Returns To Real Squad, To Miss Betis Clash

Xhaka, who was also booed against Aston Villa earlier this season, revealed on Thursday he reached boiling point following a series of sick taunts toward him and his family via social media.

With Wolves visiting the Emirates Stadium this weekend, it is possible Xhaka would have endured more abuse after the statement offered only a faint apology for his actions.

Emery has again decided it is better to take Xhaka out of the firing line to stop the controversy distracting his players in an important Premier League fixture.

“He said sorry, he gave the apologies to the supporters, to everybody and now the focus is for tomorrow’s match,” Emery told reporters on Friday.

“It is not in my mind that he is going play tomorrow. I am thinking tomorrow he is not going to play because I think now we need also to be focused only 100 per cent on the match.”

Xhaka was already a disliked figure among many Arsenal fans after lacklustre displays since his 2016 arrival from Borussia Moenchengladbach.

His failure to block the cross that led to Palace’s equalising goal on Sunday was the final straw for some at the Emirates as they vented their frustrations.

A decision over the captaincy remains to be announced, although Xhaka is said to retain the backing of Arsenal’s players, who voted him as skipper in pre-season.

AFP

Abraham Leads The Way For Five-Star Chelsea

 

Tammy Abraham once again demonstrated why Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has placed his faith in the 21-year-old with a superb hat-trick in a crushing 5-2 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves were supposed to be celebrating the 130 years in their Molineux home but the celebrations fell flat as Lampard’s young guns swept Nuno Espirito Santo’s side away.

Abraham’s treble was the outstanding contribution as he became the third player aged under 22 to score two goals in three successive Premier League games, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and Tottenham’s Dele Alli.

READ ALSO: Mane, Salah Hand Liverpool 3-1 Victory Over Newcastle

But his efforts were well supported by two other graduates from the Chelsea academy, centre-back Fikayo Tomori — who opened the scoring with a stunning 30-yard strike, his first for the club — and midfielder Mason Mount, scorer of the added-time fifth.

Wolves conjured a response in the 69th minute when Romain Saiss header deflected off Abraham into his own net and added an 85th minute second through Patrick Cutrone’s close range finish.

But at that point, Lampard’s side had established a four-goal lead and were providing further vindication for the Chelsea manager’s decision to reverse the trend of the past decade and a half at Stamford Bridge and give the club’s youngsters a chance this season.

A two-window transfer embargo has forced Lampard’s hand to a certain extent but the manager’s strong support for his young players is clearly bearing fruit.

And the former Chelsea midfielder was entitled to draw particular pleasure from the way Tomori, Mount and Abraham – who have each worked their way through the ranks after joining the club at under-eight level – combined for the Blues second goal.

A comprehensive victory that keeps Chelsea level with Tottenham, Manchester United and Leicester in the early battle for a top-four finish could also kickstart the Blues’ campaign.

For Wolves manager Nuno, though, defeat provided cause for concern, particularly ahead of the start of the Europa League group stage.

Wolves came into the game with the unwanted record of being the only Premier League not to have led for a single minute in a game this season.

And that remained the case when Tomori broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion in the 31st minute.

There was an element of luck in the way the ball broke for the 21-year-old after Jonny dispossessed Mount but there was no denying the quality of Tomori’s side-footed effort that curled into the top corner from 30 yards out.

Worse was to come for Nuno’s side three minutes later when Tomori surged forward from halfway, moved the ball on to Mount inside the penalty area and Abraham was on hand to finish when his team-mate went to ground under a challenge from Conor Coady.

Abraham struck again four minutes before the break, heading home from Marcos Alonso’s cross after Jesus Vallejo’s poor clearing header.

And the forward added his third and sent a telling reminder to Gareth Southgate, who left Abraham out of his recent England squad, when he beat Coady and fired past Rui Patricio ten minutes after the restart.

Abraham’s busy afternoon continued when he was given the unwanted credit for Wolves’ first consolation after Saiss headed a Joao Moutinho corner goalwards.

Cutrone then reacted first after Kepa Arrizabalaga parried Matt Doherty’s shot for his first goal in English football, but Mount completed a comfortable win with a composed finish in added time.

Richarlison Double Fires Everton Past Wolves

Everton’s Nigerian midfielder Alex Iwobi (L) watches as his header beats Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio (R) for Everton’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on September 1, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Richarlison bagged a brace as Everton earned a dramatic 3-2 win over Wolves on Sunday.

Brazil forward Richarlison scored the winner with 10 minutes left at Goodison Park to hand the Toffees their second win of the Premier League season.

It was an encouraging day for Everton boss Marco Silva, who handed first Premier League starts to summer signings in Moise Kean, Alex Iwobi and Fabian Delph, the latter making his first appearance in the league since January with Manchester City.

All three made an impact with former Arsenal winger Iwobi scoring for the second successive game.

Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez, with his eighth goal in eight starts this season, had twice drawn the visitors level.

Wolves remain without a win in four league games after suffering their first defeat of the season.

Only Bolton, bottom of League One with none, had scored fewer goals heading into this weekend than Everton.

But Silva’s side ended that run within 12 minutes, which provided as many goals as in Everton’s previous 180 on the pitch.

The opener was a shambles from Wolves’ point of view.

Conor Coady hesitated in playing a backpass to Rui Patricio so when he eventually did, the goalkeeper was taken by surprise and could only stab the ball to Kean, who fortuitously diverted it into the path of Richarlison and he blasted into the net.

Everton, with six successive home league clean sheets having not conceded since February in their last Goodison defeat, would have been hopeful of extending that run considering their record so far this season.

But that evaporated within four minutes as Adama Traore skipped past Lucas Digne and his low cross rebounded for Saiss to fire home from close range.

Back came Everton and Gylfi Sigurdsson swung in a right-wing cross which Iwobi headed home at the far post.

Joao Moutinho, one of the Wolves quartet rested after beating Torino in the Europa League in midweek, was introduced on the hour mark.

The changes worked as Jimenez levelled 15 minutes from time, the striker stealing in at the far post behind the napping Digne to bundle home a Ryan Bennett long throw flicked on by Willy Boly.

But Richarlison had the final say, heading home a Digne cross 10 minutes from time.

Boly’s second yellow card in the final seconds added to Wolves’ frustration.

AFP

Wolves Set Up Torino Clash In Europa League Playoffs

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Belgian midfielder Leander Dendoncker (2nd L) shoots to score but the goal is overturned after a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) review during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on August 11, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Wolves eased past Armenia’s Pyunik 4-0 and 8-0 on aggregate to reach the Europa League play-offs on Thursday where they will face Torino of Italy.

Diogo Jota, on as a substitute, scored a spectacular late volley with debutant Pedro Neto, Morgan Gibbs-White and Ruben Vinagre also on the scoresheet as Nuno Espirito Santo’s Premier League side cruised through at Molineux.

Wolves, playing in Europe for the first time since 1980, face a Torino side who drew 1-1 at Belarusian side Shakhtyor 1-1 to make it past the third qualifying round 6-1 on aggregate.

Nikolai Yanush salvaged some pride for the hosts levelling on the night from the spot in stoppage time after Simone Zaza had given the Italians the lead 10 minutes from time, but Torino were already well out of sight.

Torino, who finished seventh in Serie A last season, are only in the competition after AC Milan accepted in June a voluntary ban from European football for the coming season over breaches of financial fair play rules.

Feyenoord, former European champions and two-time winners of the Europa League’s predecessor UEFA Cup, also had easy passage to the playoffs after a 1-1 draw with Dinamo Tbilisi that saw them through 5-1 on aggregate.

Rangers saw off FC Midtjylland 3-1 at Ibrox for a 7-3 aggregate with Alfredo Morelos scoring twice either side of a Sheyi Ojo strike.

Fellow Scots Aberdeen, however, lost 2-0 to Rijeka of Croatia and went out 4-0 on aggregate.

AFP

Wolves Beat City On Penalties To Win Asia Trophy

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ goalkeeper Rui Patricio saves the ball to win the match against Manchester City during the 2019 Premier League Asia Trophy football tournament at the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai, on July 20, 2019. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

Goalkeeper Rui Patricio was the hero for Wolves, saving three spot-kicks after their Asia Trophy final against Manchester City went to penalties on Saturday in Shanghai.

Wolves won the exhibition tournament 3-2 on penalties after the game against the Premier League champions ended 0-0 after 90 minutes.

It was a story of missed penalties for Pep Guardiola’s City.

Raheem Sterling missed a first-half penalty for City, who dominated at a full Hongkou Stadium but were blunt in attack without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

Pre-season games are notoriously poor barometers for the season to come, especially when played in stifling heat like in Shanghai.

But both sides fielded close to their full-strength sides and Guardiola and counterpart Nuno Espirito Santo will be glad to escape without any serious injuries to their squads.

READ ALSO: AFCON 2019 Champions Algeria To Get $4.5m

Leroy Sane, the German winger wanted by Bayern Munich, started for City and won the Sterling penalty, but otherwise had a quiet game before being substituted on the hour.

Kevin De Bruyne was Guardiola’s captain for the night — the City armband is up for grabs following the departure of talisman Vincent Kompany.

Sterling should have put City in the lead but instead blasted his 20th minute penalty over the bar to let Chinese-owned Wolves off the hook.

The England international forward, playing through the middle, then fluffed a golden chance from close range with only goalkeeper Patricio to beat.

In the third-fourth playoff, Newcastle United beat West Ham United 1-0 to give Steve Bruce victory in his first match as head coach.

The Premier League proper begins on August 9.

AFP

Wolves Dent Arsenal’s Top-Four Hopes

Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal (3R) and Laurent Koscielny (2R) vie with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Leander Dendoncker (5R) for the ball during the clash. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Arsenal’s failings were cruelly exposed as their Champions League ambitions suffered a painful blow with a 3-1 defeat at Wolves on Wednesday.

Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and the outstanding Diogo Jota scored the goals that condemned Unai Emery’s side to defeat and dented their hopes of a top-four finish.

But for all Wolves’ impressive play in a devastating spell at the end of the first half, Arsenal were architects of their own downfall with poor defending, sloppy passing and dreadful goalkeeping from Bernd Leno.

The goalkeeper was beaten by Doherty in the air for the second goal before allowing Jota’s low shot to squirm under his body for the third.

He had already been beaten by Neves’s fine free-kick for the opener, with Sokratis’s late header for Arsenal proving no more than a consolation.

And Emery was left to ponder more away-day woes for the Gunners and a sign that some of the fragility that haunted former manager Arsene Wenger has not been cured.

Having looked comfortable in the early exchanges, the Gunners simply wilted once Wolves piled on pressure at the end of the opening half and a catalogue of errors left the visitors 3-0 down at half-time with no way back.

Early Arsenal pressure

For 20 minutes it was comfortable for Emery’s side as they dominated possession and Wolves struggled to escape their own half.

The chief threat was from Nacho Monreal, advancing from full-back on their left flank, first to cross for Sokratis to volley off target, then to be stopped twice by Doherty, the second time earning the Wolves man a booking.

Yet the Gunners could not build on their early promise and Wolves worked their way into the game in stunning style, aided and abetted by brittle defending from the Gunners.

There were warnings when Jota burst down the Wolves left and Doherty down the right, leaving Arsenal defenders in their wake but not managing to deliver goals.

That changed when panic in the Arsenal defence saw Monreal foul Jonny and allow Neves to whip a free-kick over the wall and past Leno in the 28th minute.

Leno was culpable for the second goal, first for poor handling of a Jota shot that led to a corner and then for being outjumped by Doherty as he headed home a Jota cross 11 minutes later.

Then the Arsenal goalkeeper was one of several guilty parties for the Gunners’ third as he let Jota’s cross under his body and over the line on the stroke of half-time.

Granit Xhaka’s dreadful pass in the build-up and a non-existent challenge from Sokratis were equally responsible.

When Raul Jimenez crossed for Jota early in the second half, Wolves should have made it 4-0 but the forward’s touch let him down on an otherwise impeccable evening.

Arsenal had a strong penalty appeal rejected when Alexandre Lacazette tangled with Ryan Bennett and Sokratis headed a goal from a Xhaka corner with 10 minutes to go.

But even a brief spell of sustained pressure offered little serious hope that they could undo any of the earlier self-inflicted damage.

AFP

Wolves Beat Man United To Reach FA Cup Semis

Wolves Beat Man United To Reach FA Cup Semis
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez (C) celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the FA Cup quarter-final football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on March 16, 2019. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup after beating Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday.

Second-half goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota knocked out Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who had to settle for a late consolation from Marcus Rashford.

AFP

FA Cup: Man City Rout Burnley As Wolves Fightback Against Shrewsbury

FA Cup: Man City Rout Burnley As Wolves Fightback Against Shrewsbury
Burnley’s Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick (C) goes over in a challenge with Manchester City’s Brazilian defender Danilo (L) during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on January 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City’s quest for four trophies continued with a 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to march into the FA Cup fifth round as League One Shrewsbury narrowly missed out on shocking Wolves in a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

City boss Pep Guardiola labelled talk of a quadruple as “fantasy” earlier in the week, but after cruising into the League Cup final in midweek, the English champions are in contention for a clean sweep of trophies as they challenge Liverpool in the Premier League and face Schalke in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“It is very difficult when teams like this play the way they do,” said Burnley boss Sean Dyche. “Who is going to stop them from winning everything if they are in that mood?”

The defeat left Burnley to concentrate on their bid for survival in the top flight as City stretched their remarkable run of late to 28 goals and none conceded in their last six games.

“Everybody wants to play and you have to play good when they do because the others are at a high level,” said Guardiola.

Gabriel Jesus continued his hot streak with a fine individual run and powerful finish past Nick Pope to open the scoring with his eighth goal in five games.

Burnley wasted a great chance to level when Matej Vydra fired wide with just Ederson to beat and within seconds Bernardo Silva’s deflected effort gave City breathing space.

Kevin de Bruyne’s brilliant free-kick then made it 3-0 and another wicked delivery from the Belgian forced Kevin Long to turn into his own net for the fourth before Sergio Aguero rounded off the scoring from the penalty spot.

– Shrewsbury denied shock –

Wolves knocked out Premier League leaders Liverpool in the last round but needed a late fightback from 2-0 down to avoid the shock of the day at New Meadow.

“It’s real mixed emotions. I base myself on performances and that was very, very good but I am disappointed not to win the game,” said Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts.

Rangers loanee Greg Docherty smashed the third-tier side into the lead just two minutes into the second half.

Luke Waterfall gave the Shrews a two-goal lead 19 minutes from time with a towering header from a corner.

They needed that cushion as Raul Jimenez came off the bench to give the Wolves a lifeline and Matt Doherty levelled three minutes into stoppage time to save Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

“Sometimes the games can be like this and require extra effort,” said the Portuguese coach. “They were well organised, they fought and were really competitive.”

One League One side will be in the next round after a late Ben Whiteman penalty earned Doncaster a 2-1 win over Oldham.

Watford edged an all-Premier League tie despite Javi Gracia making 11 changes as Andre Gray and Isaac Success scored in a 2-0 win at Newcastle.

Newport County’s fairytale continues as the League Two side, who beat Leicester in round three, equalised in stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough.

Frank Lampard’s Derby County moved into the last 16 with a hard-fought 1-0 win at League One Accrington Stanley thanks to Martyn Waghorn’s winner 12 minutes from time as both sides ended with 10 men.

Swansea also booked their place in Monday’s draw by easing past Gillingham 4-1.

Two other ties will need a replay to find a winner as Brighton and West Brom played out a 0-0 draw, while QPR’s visit to Portsmouth ended in a 1-1 draw.

AFP

Resurgent Man City Resume Title Quest Against Wolves

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) consoles Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 22, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola’s rejuvenated Manchester City face a potentially tricky challenge at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday as they continue their Premier League title defence.

But the early days of 2019 suggest their uncharacteristic December collapse is firmly behind them.

The final month of last year saw City lose successive league games, against relatively modest opposition in both Crystal Palace and Leicester City, following an end to their unbeaten domestic start to the campaign earlier at the beginning of December.

But a victory over leaders Liverpool to kick off New Year completely rejuvenated the mood at the Etihad Stadium after City had been denied the services of injured playmaker Kevin De Bruyne for most of the first half of the campaign.

And two stunning cup victories in the space of four days — albeit against lower league clubs Rotherham and Burton Albion — suggested the clinical, cutting edge that characterised City’s play during last season’s record-breaking title-winning campaign was back.

Championship side Rotherham were swept aside 7-0 at the Etihad, with third division Burton suffering an even more painful fate in a lopsided first leg of League Cup semi-final, when City scored nine goals without reply.

That latter victory not only all but assured City of a place in the final against Tottenham or Chelsea next month but also indicated the demanding Guardiola will not tolerate any let-up in his quest to add more silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet.

De Bruyne anger 

It was a mood reflected by De Bruyne against Rotherham when he showed visible dissatisfaction at being brought off after an hour, even though City were already leading by five goals.

Some reports even suggested De Bruyne refused to return to the bench to watch the remainder of the match, remaining, instead, in the City dressing room.

“No, I didn’t speak with him,” said City manager Guardiola curtly, when asked if he had addressed De Bruyne’s reaction to being replaced.

But given the Belgian has started just one league game so far this campaign, he is likely to be chomping at the bit to play from the kick-off against Wolves.

Sergio Aguero, too, has returned after being absent since the Liverpool win due to illness and inspirational club captain and defender Vincent Kompany is another player winning his battle to be fit for Monday’s match.

The general picture suggests that, having weathered a brief loss of form, City have not only returned to their clinical best but also have a number of key players hitting fitness at the right time, as Guardiola insists his squad can maintain their chase for honours on four fronts.

Even long-term injury victim Benjamin Mendy is making progress and expected to return to the fold shortly.

Meanwhile, second-placed City will want to close the seven-point gap at the top of the table created by Liverpool’s 1-0 win away to Brighton on Saturday when they face Wolves.

However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side held City to a creditable 1-1 draw earlier in the season at Molineux and drew 1-1 at the Etihad in last season’s League Cup when they were still a Championship club.

“We realised when we played the EFL (English Football League) Cup and the first away game how complicated it would be,” said Guardiola of the threat posed by high-flyers Wolves.

“They are strong physically, counter-attack, set-pieces. There is not just one or two, there are three or four (Wolves players) and when you are tired, they can put on new players.”

He added: “They defend well, deep, they control many areas — Moutinho, Neves, he can shoot from a long way. They are newly-promoted and doing incredibly well.”

AFP

Liverpool Crash Out Of FA Cup As Klopp Pays For Line-up Change

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp consoles Liverpool’s Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri following the English FA Cup third round football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on January 7, 2019. Wolverhampton won the match 2-1.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool crashed out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Wolves on Monday as Jurgen Klopp paid for naming a second-string side that included three teenagers at Molineux.

Goals from Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves either side of half-time sent the hosts into round four despite Divock Origi’s fine strike briefly bringing Liverpool level after the break.

Fresh from a first Premier League defeat of the season to Manchester City in a thrilling top-of the-table Premier League clash on Thursday, Klopp made nine changes to his starting line-up.

Only James Milner and Dejan Lovren retained their places, but Lovren limped off after just six minutes and was replaced by 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever.

Rafael Camacho and Curtis Jones were also handed debuts, however, it was Liverpool’s most experienced player, Milner, who was at fault for the opening goal.

Diogo Jota caught the former England international in possession in midfield and put Jimenez clean through before Fabinho could intercept.

The Mexican steadied himself before firing low past Simon Mignolet for his seventh goal of the season with the only notable chance of the first-half.

Without Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, Liverpool were struggling to get any momentum going forward.

But the visitors were level out of nothing when Origi collected a loose ball on the edge of the area six minutes into the second period and smashed the ball high past John Ruddy.

Wolves, though, have made a habit of upsetting the Premier League’s established top six in their first season back in the top flight.

After beating Chelsea and Tottenham and holding City, Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League, Liverpool can now be added to the list of scalps for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side thanks to a wonder strike from Neves.

The Portuguese international took aim from 30 yards out but had too much power and accuracy for Mignolet to find the bottom corner.

Only a wonder save from Ruddy denied Xherdan Shaqiri a stunning equaliser and Liverpool a replay as the Swiss’s free-kick was touched onto the inside of the post by the Wolves goalkeeper.

Klopp had a final roll of the dice by throwing on Salah and Firmino for the final 20 minutes.

But even their firepower failed to spark a fightback and Klopp’s team selection will now be seriously questioned.

With Liverpool already out of the League Cup, the German coach will need to deliver a first top-flight title in 29 years or the Champions League to avoid ending a fourth season in charge without winning a trophy.