Sako welcomes Albion opportunity

Versatile forward Bakary Sako is relishing an opportunity to help West Bromwich Albion challenge for an immediate return to the Premier League.

The 30-year-old was a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season and has opted to join the Baggies on a season-long deal after being the subject of interest from a number of top-flight clubs.

And Mali international Sako, who has also played in England with Wolves, has revealed that the influence of Albion boss Darren Moore was a major factor in him heading to The Hawthorns.

He told his new club's official website: "A lot of Premier League clubs wanted me, but as soon as I knew Darren Moore wanted to see me I went to see him straight away and we clicked.

"The way he manages players, the way he talks, he's passionate and I love that – that's why I came here."

Meanwhile, Moore himself was delighted to have landed Sako, adding: "He brings great experience and adds greatly to our goal threat across a range of positions. He brings competition to the group and a know-how of this division.

"He's been a credit while he's been training with us and I can vouch for the fact that the way he has committed to us has been exceptional."

The Baggies, who top the Championship table heading into a midweek round of games, are back in action on Wednesday evening when they head to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday.

They are 11/10 to defeat the Owls and are 10/1 to win the game 2-0, with the visitors 9/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Puel reveals Gray injury hopes

Leicester boss Claude Puel is hopeful that the ankle injury Demarai Gray suffered in the Carabao Cup win at Wolves is not serious.

The Foxes booked their place in the fourth round of the competition courtesy of a penalty shoot-out win following a goalless draw against their Premier League rivals at Molineux on Tuesday.

However, the victory came at a cost with 22-year-old Gray falling awkwardly on his left ankle when trying to block a cross in the final minute of the match.

The winger required oxygen and had his leg placed in a brace before being carried off the pitch with fears that he had suffered a broken ankle.

However, ahead of a scan on Wednesday, Puel spoke out to suggest that Gray is not facing a lengthy absence with the injury seemingly ligament damage as opposed to a broken bone.

He said: "I hope of course it will not be a serious injury.

"He is positive. I said to him that it was the one time he defended! No, I hope it will not be serious.

"At the beginning, he was afraid on the pitch because his shin pad was outside his sock and he was afraid that it was his ankle.

"It was not a good thing, but I think it will not be a long period without him."

Meanwhile, Puel was quick to praise resrve goalkeeper Danny Ward after he saved three penalties in the shoot-out as the Foxes progressed 3-1.

The Frenchman added: "We have recruited [Ward] just for penalties. No, we know his quality, in training sessions. He is a fantastic keeper and it was a good opportunity for him to show his quality so I am happy for him.

"It was a tough game for the team and for him also because he didn't have a lot to do in the game so he had to keep his concentration and his condition until the penalties, and he was very successful."

Leicester, who are 20/1 to win the Carabao Cup, are unlikely to have Gray in the side when they return to Premier League action against Newcastle at St James' Park on Saturday.

The Foxes are 2/1 to win on Tyneside, while the Magpies are priced at 7/5 and the draw is 11/5.

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Pogba wants more attacking

Paul Pogba has said that, especially at home, Manchester United should play in a more attacking way.

Old Trafford saw United draw 1-1 with Wolves on Saturday, the newly promoted visitors getting a deserved point, Joao Moutinho equalising after Fred had given United the lead.

The result leaves United seventh in the table and so far at home United have won one, lost one and drawn one of their three league games.
 
It has prompted Pogba to call for United to attack more at Old Trafford if they want to challenge at the top of the Premier League.

He is quoted as saying: "When we're at home, we should attack, attack, attack. That's Old Trafford.

"We're here to attack. I think teams are scared when they see Manchester United attacking and attacking. That was our mistake.

"We should just attack and press, like we did against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal last season. When we play like this, it's easier for us."

Pogba said it was too early to be concerned by United's form, though the squad have work to do to challenge those at the top of the table.

Two defeats and a draw in their first six games of the new league season means United are already eight points behind leaders Liverpool and six behind Manchester City and Chelsea.

United are in action in midweek, taking on Championship side Derby County in the third round of the EFL Cup before their next Premier League game, away at West Ham next Saturday.

United are 8/11 to leave the London Stadium with all three points, the Hammers are 7/2 with the draw 11/4.

United are 11/10 to finish in the top four of the Premier League while they are 6/1 to win the EFL Cup.

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Jose demands better attitude

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admitted Saturday's 1-1 draw with newly-promoted Wolves at Old Trafford had been a fair result.

Joao Moutinho's second-half strike cancelled out Fred's opener as United produced a limp display that angered Mourinho.

It was a particularly disappointing performance as United had easily beaten Young Boys 3-0 in the Champions League in midweek after recording back-to-back Premier League victories over Burnley and Watford.

The result leaves Manchester United at 11/10 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, while Arsenal are available at 2/1, Tottenham at 5/6 and Chelsea at 3/10.

"Not a good performance, not a good result. A fair result," said Mourinho afterwards.

"Wolves, by the way they faced the game, I think they deserve it. They play like I like to play which is like the World Cup final.

"That is the attitude I like my teams to have in every match. We didn't have that. They did. That attitude made a difference.

"They were in the game from the first minute. They play every ball with every second with the maximum intensity and desire and we didn't. We started poorly, we started both halves at a low intensity. And it is difficult to win matches when you are not there."

Mourinho: Dalot here to compete

Summer signing Diogo Dalot is already a candidate for a regular starting spot at Manchester United according to head coach Jose Mourinho.

The 19-year-old right-back moved to Old Trafford from FC Porto on a five-year contract, sealing the deal while he was in the latter stages of a recovery from surgery on a knee injury.

He was unable to feature in the first few games of the new season, but made an instant impact when called upon for the Champions League trip to Young Boys in midweek, showing up well in a 3-0 victory in Bern.

However, he will not feature against Wolves on Saturday, with Mourinho opting for a cautious approach with his teenage star, who will play in the Carabao Cup against Derby County next Tuesday.

Mourinho told reporters: "I want him to play totally fresh, so he's not playing against Wolves. He plays again on Tuesday.

"To play for Manchester United is difficult enough for a kid who is 19 years old, coming from another country and after an important injury and surgery. He doesn't need to face more difficulties because of an accumulation of matches.

"So he played 90 minutes in the Champions League on a difficult pitch, recovered totally and on Tuesday he plays again.

"But I think he showed to those who didn't know him very well that he's not a player to be here just for rotation. He's a player to be here for competition, for positions. He's a very good player."

Minus Dalot, United are available at 4/7 to defeat Wolves on Saturday and are 6/1 to win the game at Old Trafford 1-0, with Romelu Lukaku 21/20 to score at any time in the game.

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Moutinho remains in the present

Midfield ace Joao Moutinho has warned that Wolves have to focus on the here and now and not on the potential of an even brighter tomorrow at Molineux.

Ahead of a Saturday trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United, the veteran Portugal international insists that taking care of business game by game has to be the main priority for the newly-promoted outfit.

His caution comes with Wolves having lost just one of their five Premier League games so far this season, with the club having undergone huge changes following the arrival of head coach Nuno Espirito Santo at the start of last season.

Moutinho told the Shropshire Star: "We need to talk about the reality, the present.  If you do a good present, you can be better the next year.

"You need to focus 100 per cent on this year, as it's very important. After that, we see what is better.

"If we do good things (this season), I think it’s easier for the club to spend more money on more very good players – and it is easier for players to want to come here."

Wolves have been beaten on all four of their previous Premier League visits to Old Trafford, the last of which came in December 2011, when they lost 4-1 to the Red Devils.

The Midlanders are 14/5 to secure a draw on Saturday, with a 1-1 final scoreline priced at 7/1, while Wolves are available at 4/7 to finish in the top half of the table come the end of the season.

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Pogba enjoys rising confidence

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba believes his side are stronger mentally on the back of three consecutive away victories in all competitions.

The Red Devils opened their Champions League campaign with a comprehensive 3-0 win away to Young Boys, with record signing Pogba scoring the first two goals of the game, before Anthony Martial added the third.

And France World Cup 2018 winner Pogba can see that improvements are being made thanks to Premier League wins over Burnley and Watford, followed up by the success in Bern on Wednesday evening.

He told Sky Sports: "Obviously when you win you are happier – mentally we are stronger, we get better.

"It's a very important win because it was the first game in the Champions League, we needed to start well and we did.

"We had the result we wanted, maybe the performance should be better, but we have the result and three points.

"I'm very happy to score and be decisive in the win and for the performance of the team. If I can do it, try to help the team as much as possible, if I can score and assist that is great."

United return to league action on Saturday when they welcome newly-promoted Wolves to Old Trafford.

The two teams last met in the 2011/12 season, when the Red Devils won 5-0 at Molineux and 4-1 in Manchester.

The hosts are 4/7 to secure victory on Saturday and are 7/1 to claim a 2-0 victory, with United 5/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Misfiring Clarets concern Dyche

Sean Dyche admits there is "a bit of a fog around us at the moment" after watching his winless Burnley side lose 1-0 at Wolves.

Raul Jimenez scored the only goal of the game as the Clarets slumped to their fourth defeat in five Premier League matches so far this season.

They are now at the foot of the Premier League table and, after finishing seventh last season and qualifying for the Europa League, are 11/10 to be relegated this term.

"We've got a bit of a fog around us at the moment, brought on by many different things," Dyche said after the Molineux setback.

"We've been through it before though and we've got to come through it again.

"I thought they [Wolves] were the better side overall, definitely on the creative side of the game.

"The positive for us was we looked much more like us defensively, in the sense of blocks – the keeper played great, but in front of that, blocks, energy to block, willingness and desire.

"But that's the only thing I can pick out. Offensively we gave the ball away so many times in so many cheap positions and you can't do that."

Burnley can be backed at 9/5 to record their first victory of the campaign when they play Bournemouth on Saturday and at 9/1 to beat the Cherries 1-0 at Turf Moor.

Jimenez banks Wolves win

Raul Jimenez scored the only goal as Wolves claimed a deserved victory over Burnley at Molineux to continue their strong start to the campaign.

The home side dominated possession and controlled the game against a well-organised Clarets side, but they had to wait the hour-mark for Jimenez to make the crucial breakthrough.

Burnley rarely threatened, with the only real chances they created falling to Johann Berg Gudmundsson late on.

The Clarets have now lost four successive Premier League game for the first time. Wolves meanwhile climbed into the top half of the table with their win.

The key moment was orchestrated down the Wolves right, with Matt Doherty toe-poking a cross into the path of Jimenez, who was able to divert the ball beyond Joe Hart's dive.

Nuno Espirito Santo has demanded his players "maintain the standards" set in their 1-0 victory over West Ham prior to the international break, and he was not disappointed.

"I am very, very satisfied. We played good football and stayed organised and created chances. Burnley are a good side and stayed in it until the end," said the Molineux boss.

"If there is a 'but', we could be more clinical. But if we can continue to make these many chances, it makes me very proud."

Wolves are 11/2 to win their next game, away at Manchester United. The Red Devils are 8/15 while the draw is 3/1 at Old Trafford.

For Burnley boss Dyche, his side didn't reach the required standard.

"We knew they were a good side. They invested well in the summer. We knew we'd have to defend resolute. We got some nice blocks in and looked more like ourselves defensively," he said.

"Attacking-wise there was nowhere near enough."

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Pellegrini issues call for calm

Manuel Pellegrini has urged his West Ham players to stay calm, but admits that his team need to put Premier League points on the board as soon as possible.

The Hammers have lost all four of their league games to date, with their latest setback a 1-0 home loss to Wolves, for whom Adama Traore scored the winning goal deep into stoppage time at the London Stadium.

And afterwards head coach Pellegrini voiced his concerns, as a number of his players head off for international action.

He told BBC's Match of the Day: "I don't think it is a bad start, it is a very bad start. We can't lose six points here at home like we have.

"Playing away against Liverpool and Arsenal, if you don't play so well is understandable. Here at home to lose we must be very worried.

"On the training ground we are doing well, no lack of attitude. We have to take that work during the week to a game, where there is that added pressure.

"We need to be calm. I think we have a strong squad and we are going to have better performances in the future. But, of course, when you start with no points in four games it is difficult."

Following the international break, the Irons return to action with a tough trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton on Sunday 16 h September, with Chelsea and Manchester United their following two Premier League opponents.

The Hammers are now available at 9/4 to be relegated this season, with Crystal Palace priced at 7/1 and Brighton & Hove Albion 7/2.

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