Man City Retain League Cup After Aston Villa Win

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (C) celebrates with his backroom staff as City players celebrate their win after the English League Cup final football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London on March 1, 2020. Manchester City won the game 2-1. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Manchester City claimed the League Cup for the fourth time in five seasons by beating Aston Villa 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodrigo.

Mbwana Samatta pulled a goal back for Villa, but their wait for the club’s first silverware since 1996 goes on as Pep Guardiola’s men have now won six of the last seven major trophies in English football.

Guardiola made eight changes from the side that won 2-1 at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday with Kevin De Bruyne among those left on the bench.

However, it mattered little as City had the luxury of recalling Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva to the starting XI, and the gulf in class showed.

Guardiola’s raft of changes also handed a rare start to Phil Foden and the 19-year-old more than justified his selection.

Rodrigo’s fine pass picked out Foden to head back into the path of Aguero and the Argentine’s deflected effort beat Orjan Nyland in the Villa goal to open the scoring on 20 minutes.

Foden was then inches away from a goal himself with a deflected shot that flew inches wide.

Villa felt aggrieved when City were awarded another corner moments later after Jack Grealish fired the ball off Ilkay Gundogan for what should have been a goal kick.

Instead, City doubled their lead as Gundogan’s corner was met with a powerful downward header from Rodrigo.

Villa could barely even get a touch for the next 10 minutes as the holders threatened to run riot in a repeat of the 6-1 thrashing they handed the hosts at Villa Park last month.

Sterling had a glorious chance for his first goal of 2020 deflected behind by a brave block from Tyrone Mings.

But moments later the reason Mings is ahead of John Stones in the pecking order for England selection became clear as the City defender inexplicably fell to the floor to give Villa a lifeline.

A long ball forward eventually came to Anwar El Ghazi and from his cross Samatta headed low past Claudio Bravo to the delight of the travelling thousands from Birmingham and Villa fan Prince William in the stands.

The difference in the desperation for success between the supports was obvious as Villa were roared on vociferously throughout, while City failed to sell out their allocation.

That did not compensate for the difference in quality on the field as City quickly settled back into their rhythm and could then introduce De Bruyne for the final half hour.

However, City failed to turn their dominance into more goals as Rodrigo was denied by a fine save by Nyland from another corner before Aguero then fired into the side-netting to give Villa hope for the last 10 minutes.

And they were very nearly punished as the often-criticised Bravo had to make a brilliant save three minutes from time to turn Bjorn Engels’ header onto the post and maintain City’s grip on the competition.

AFP

Man City Thrash Villa 6-1, Move To Second On Premier League Table

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (R) takes on Aston Villa’s English defender Kortney Hause (L) during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 12, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola said Sergio Aguero’s legendary status had grown again after becoming the Premier League’s top scoring foreign player with a hat-trick as Manchester City thrashed Aston Villa 6-1 on Sunday.

It may be too late to salvage City’s defence of the Premier League title as they remain 14 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, who also have a game in hand, but led by Aguero the champions moved ahead of Leicester into second to show they will not give up the chase.

Aguero eclipsed Thierry Henry’s record as the top scoring non-English player in the Premier League by taking his tally to 177 goals and also surpassed Alan Shearer’s league record for hat-tricks with his 12th since joining City from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

“He was a legend and the legend rises tonight,” said Guardiola. “He is one of the most incredible players I’ve seen in this league.

“To score this amount of goals and hat-tricks means you have done for many, many years a lot of good things.

“You have to be consistent for many years so it’s an incredible compliment to him.”

Guardiola could afford the luxury of recalling Aguero among six changes to the side that also outclassed Manchester United in midweek to put one foot in the League Cup final.

Villa could be their opponents at Wembley on March 1 as they held Leicester 1-1 in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday, but on this evidence they would be powerless to stop City lifting the trophy for a third straight season.

The injury-hit hosts were without a recognised striker and first-choice goalkeeper after Wesley and Tom Heaton were ruled out for the rest of the season.

Former Spanish international ‘keeper Pepe Reina was in the stands ahead of his loan move from AC Milan being completed and will be needed if Villa are to beat the drop after conceding 13 goals in their last four home games.

“It was a chastening experience,” said Smith. “We are embarrassed by some of the goals we conceded today.

“We’ve come up against a top class team with a top class manager and got found out.”

Mahrez on the mark 

Orjan Nyland was beaten at his near post as Riyad Mahrez was allowed to cut onto his favoured left foot to open the floodgates on 18 minutes.

The Algerian’s old Leicester teammate Danny Drinkwater was making his Villa debut after troubled spells at Chelsea and Burnley since leaving the Foxes.

His lack of match practice was exposed for City’s second as Drinkwater was caught in possession inside his own box by Gabriel Jesus and the ball broke kindly for Mahrez to drill home his ninth goal of the season.

Aguero then thumped home a third, although Nyland could have got a stronger hand to the Argentine’s effort.

All that was missing from a complete City performance was a moment of inspiration from Kevin De Bruyne and the Belgian duly delivered with a wonderful curling cross to set the fourth on a plate for Jesus in first-half stoppage time.

City did not let up after the break and could have made it many more than six as David Silva picked out Aguero to calmly slot home his record-breaking goal.

The Argentine’s hat-trick arrived eight minutes from time as he demonstrated his array of finishes by this time blasting his past the helpless Nyland.

“I’m so happy for the record. It is thanks to my teammates, they help me in these nine years,” said Aguero.

“When I scored the second, I thought one more (and) I break the hat-trick record. I want to keep scoring more goals.”

Anwar El Ghazi scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time, but it was little consolation for Villa, who dropped into the relegation zone after Watford’s win at Bournemouth earlier in the day.

AFP

Iheanacho Denies Villa As Leicester Earn League Cup Semi-Final Draw

 

 

 

Brendan Rodgers warned Leicester will have to suffer to reach the League Cup final after Kelechi Iheanacho’s late goal earned a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Rodgers’ side fell behind to Frederic Guilbert’s first half goal in the semi-final first leg at the King Power Stadium.

But Iheanacho came off the bench to equalise with his sixth goal in eight appearances this season.

Leicester will feel they should have won after dominating for long periods, but the team in second place in the Premier League will have to finish the job at Villa Park in the second leg on January 28.

“Overall I thought we dominated the game. Villa made some blocks and the keeper made some good saves,” Rodgers said.

“Over two ties it was always going to be tough and to get to a final you have to suffer, but the boys are confident.”

Rodgers has a remarkable record of advancing from his last 30 domestic cup ties with Liverpool, Celtic, and Leicester.

But the last team to beat Rodgers in a domestic knockout competition were Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals in 2014-15 when he was Liverpool manager.

And Villa, whose last major trophy was the 1996 League Cup, will feel they are in pole position to reach the final after surviving a stern examination.

“I thought Leicester were the better team. We have given away a farcical goal. Ezri Konsa has got brain dazzled,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.

“But we defended brilliantly at times and it will be a raucous crowd at Villa Park. I’m looking forward to it. It’s all to play for.”

The second leg winner will play Manchester City or Manchester United in the final at Wembley, with City leading 3-1 after their first leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Leicester last won the competition in 2000, beating Villa in the semi-finals that year, and they were well on top at the start.

Jamie Vardy was back after missing three games due to the birth of his daughter and a calf injury and took the fight to Villa.

He seized Marvelous Nakamba’s wayward header before testing Orjan Nyland, then saw his low drive blocked by Villa’s keeper moments later.

But, having soaked up Leicester’s early blitz on a rain-drenched evening in the east midlands, it was Villa who snatched the lead against the run of play in the 28th minute.

Infused with confidence

Anwar El Ghazi was playing in an unfamiliar role up front due to Wesley’s injury and Jonathan Kodjia’s illness.

The winger drifted back out to the left flank to deliver a cross that landed perfectly for Guilbert, who got in front of Ben Chilwell and stabbed his volley in from close-range.

The French defender’s first goal since August was Villa’s first shot on target in the match.

Infused with confidence after that bolt from the blue, Smith’s team were inches away from doubling their lead before half-time.

Jack Grealish’s inswinging free-kick found Ezri Konsa and the Villa defender headed against the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Leicester wrestled back the initiative after the interval and Nyland alertly smothered the danger when Vardy tried to latch onto a through ball.

Tyrone Mings won header after header as Villa tried to weather the storm and when James Maddison did get past the defender with a bold burst, Nyland was on hand to make another good save.

Maddison tried again with a run onto Ricardo Pereira’s pass, but the Norwegian saved at the near post.

Leicester’s pressure finally told in the 74th minute.

Luiz, put in trouble by Konsa’s sloppy free-kick, lost possession to Hamza Choudhury and Vardy found Iheanacho, who shot high past Nyland from 15 yards.

Vardy nearly won it in the closing minutes, but his shot rippled into the side-netting just as Leicester fans were anticipating a dramatic finale.

Chelsea’s Drinkwater Joins Aston Villa On Loan Till End Of Season

Photo: Aston Villa Twitter Handle

 

Danny Drinkwater’s bid to revive his flagging career has seen him move on loan on Tuesday to Premier League strugglers Aston Villa from Chelsea for the rest of the season.

The 29-year-old midfielder — capped three times by England — moves thereafter an unsuccessful loan spell with Burnley, for whom he made just two appearances since joining them at the beginning of the season.

His career has taken a downward spiral since he moved from Leicester to Chelsea for £35 million in 2017 playing just 12 times in all competitions.

However, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith believes Drinkwater can recapture the form that made him such a pivotal figure in Leicester’s fairytale 2016 Premier League title win.

“Danny was a key member of Leicester City’s title-winning team and has represented England, so he is a vastly experienced player,” said Smith.

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“He will strengthen our squad significantly.”

Drinkwater — whose first test may come when fourth from bottom Villa host defending champions Manchester City on Sunday — has had his problems off the field too.

He was banned from driving for 20 months last year after being found to be 2 1/2 times over the legal alcohol limit when he crashed his car in April.

Drinkwater was sidelined for a stint earlier this season after suffering ankle ligament damage in September during an incident at a Manchester nightclub.

AFP

Villa, Brighton Crash To Shock FA Cup Exits

Aston Villa’s Ivorian striker Jonathan Kodjia (R) has an unsuccessful shot during the English FA Cup third round football match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage in Fulham, west London on January 4, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Aston Villa and Brighton suffered FA Cup embarrassment as the Premier League clubs paid the price for making a raft of team changes in their shock third round exits on Saturday.

Villa are languishing just above the relegation zone after a difficult first season back in the top-flight and boss Dean Smith prioritised that survival battle with nine changes against second tier Fulham.

Anthony Knockaert gave Fulham the lead at Craven Cottage with a 54th minute curler as the former Brighton forward grabbed his first goal since September.

Anwar El Ghazi equalised for Villa in the 63rd minute, but the understudies couldn’t hold on as Harry Arter won it with a 30-yard thunderbolt with 16 minutes left.

Midfielder Arter had only been on the pitch for one minute and 45 seconds before scoring his first goal since November 2017.

Brighton endured the same fate as Villa as Albion boss Graham Potter made seven changes from their New Year’s Day draw against Chelsea and second tier Sheffield Wednesday took advantage with a 1-0 win at the Amex Stadium.

Adam Reach blasted Wednesday into the fourth round with a deflected long-range strike in the 65th minute.

Watford blew a three-goal lead in a dramatic 3-3 draw against third tier strugglers Tranmere.

Last season’s FA Cup runners-up were three up by half-time at Vicarage Road as Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra netted.

But they lost the recent momentum from new boss Nigel Pearson’s arrival as Connor Jennings and Emmanuel Monthe scored in the second half before Paul Mullin’s 87th minute penalty equaliser was followed by a red card for Pereyra.

Newcastle’s wretched FA Cup record suffered a fresh blemish as 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham gave minnows Rochdale a 1-1 draw at Spotland.

Magpies boss Steve Bruce had declared his determination not to lose to “bloody Rochdale” as he eyed a sustained Cup run for a club that hasn’t won the competition since 1955 and last reached the final in 1999.

 Newcastle stumble 

But Newcastle’s FA Cup form is so bad that they have not gone beyond the fourth round for 13 years.

Once again they endured embarrassment as Rochdale, who took Tottenham to a fifth round replay in 2018, recovered from Miguel Almiron’s opener to earn a replay at St James’ Park later in January thanks to a late leveller from old stager Wilbraham.

“Credit to Aaron Wilbraham, he’s been around longer then I have!” Bruce said. “We could’ve been out, so it’s a positive we are still in with a shout.”

Paraguayan midfielder Almiron opened the scoring with a fierce drive into the top corner from Christian Atsu’s 17th minute pass.

In need of a lift, Rochdale, sitting 18th in League One, opted for experience over the promise of youth at half-time when they sent on Wilbraham to replace 16-year-old Kwadwo Baah.

In the 674th game of his journeyman career, Wilbraham bagged only his second goal in the FA Cup with a close-range finish from Luke Matheson’s cross in the 79th minute.

Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy revealed Wilbraham had overcome heartbreak to emerge as the hero.

“Aaron’s mum passed away recently so he’s been playing with that memory for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“He’s an amazing guy and he had a huge impact on the second half.”

Norwich’s teenage striker Adam Idah scored a hat-trick — his first goals for the club — in their 4-2 win at Championship side Preston.

Will Smallbone marked his Southampton debut with a second half goal in their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield, while much-changed Burnley beat Peterborough 4-2.

FA Cup holders Manchester City host Port Vale later on Saturday, while troubled Manchester United travel to Wolves looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s quarter-final exit at Molineux.

AFP

Vardy, Iheanacho Fire Title-Chasing Leicester To Club Record Win

 

 

Leicester closed the gap on Premier League leaders, Liverpool, as Jamie Vardy extended his red-hot streak with a brace in Sunday’s record-breaking 4-1 rout of Aston Villa.

Brendan Rodgers’ second-placed side moved within eight points of Liverpool thanks to goals from Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans at Villa Park.

Jack Grealish had reduced the deficit to 2-1 late in the first half, but Leicester cruised to an eighth consecutive top-flight victory, setting a new club record that smashed the previous best from the 1962-63 season.

Vardy has now scored in eight consecutive Premier League appearances and is the competition’s top-scorer with 16 goals this term.

The 32-year-old striker’s blistering run has given him a chance of equalling his sequence of scoring in 11 successive matches during Leicester’s 2016 title-winning campaign.

Leicester’s surge up the table, after 12 wins from their last 14 league games, has made them unexpected title contenders again and leaves them in position to qualify for the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp’s men remain heavy title favourites and the acid test of Leicester’s credentials will come with successive fixtures against Manchester City and Liverpool over Christmas.

There was a minute’s applause before kick-off to a show of respect to former manager Ron Saunders, who guided Villa to the First Division title in 1981 and died on Saturday aged 87.

Once the emotional tributes were paid, Villa should have taken the lead when Matt Targett’s low cross picked out Anwar El Ghazi, but he fired against the bar from close-range.

Vardy maintained his superb form to put Leicester ahead in the 21st minute.

Latching onto a fine pass from Iheanacho and, with the injured Tyrone Mings unable to sprint back, Vardy had space to round Heaton before stumbling over the ball.

Quickly recovering his footing, the striker glided past Ezri Konsa to slot home from inside the six-yard box.

After bagging the winner against Everton last Sunday, Nigerian forward Iheanacho struck again in the 41st minute.

Teed up by a sweeping Leicester move, James Maddison surged into the Villa area and delivered a fine cross that Iheanacho turned in from close-range.

Grealish gave Dean Smith’s side a lifeline in first half stoppage-time when Villa’s captain shot past Kasper Schmeichel after Leicester failed to clear.

But Evans restored Leicester’s two-goal advantage in the 49th minute when the defender met Maddison’s corner with a towering header for his first goal since February.

Vardy put the result beyond doubt in the 75th minute as he raced clear of the Villa defence to drill past Heaton.

Newcastle hit back

Newcastle fought back to make it two consecutive wins with a 2-1 success against Southampton.

Danny Ings gave Southampton a 52nd minute lead at St James’ Park, the striker running onto Jack Stephens’ long pass to notch his fifth goal in his last five appearances.

But Newcastle were level in the 68th minute when Jonjo Shelvey headed in substitute Andy Carroll’s cross, giving the midfielder three goals in his last three games.

And Federico Fernandez won it with three minutes left when he tapped in after Sean Longstaff’s long-range effort was fumbled by Saints keeper Alex McCarthy.

Newcastle are up to 10th place, while Southampton sit third bottom.

Sheffield United came from behind to win 2-1 at second bottom Norwich.

Norwich took the lead in the 27th minute through captain Alexander Tettey’s powerful finish for his first Premier League goal since 2016.

Enda Stevens equalised for United in the 49th minute with a header from George Baldock’s cross.

And Baldock went from provider to scorer three minutes later when he twisted into space before blasting home.

Chris Wilder’s eighth placed team thought they had been reduced to 10 men in the 74th minute.

But Chris Basham escaped with a booking after initially being shown the red card for his foul on Kenny McLean before a VAR review.

Chelsea Beat Aston Villa In Premier League Clash

Aston Villa’s English goalkeeper Tom Heaton (C) fails to stop a goal by Chelsea’s English midfielder Mason Mount (unseen) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London on December 4, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Chelsea got back on track as Mason Mount’s superb winner and Tammy Abraham’s influential display inspired a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Frank Lampard’s side ended a run of two successive Premier League defeats thanks to the latest heroics from emerging England duo Mount and Abraham.

Abraham put Chelsea ahead in the first half against the team the 22-year-old striker helped win promotion from the Championship last season.

Trezeguet’s third goal in his last four appearances drew Villa level, but 20-year-old midfielder Mount responded with a blistering volley from Abraham’s assist to seal the points after half-time.

Chelsea remain fourth, six points ahead of fifth-placed Wolves, as they chase a Champions League berth in Lampard’s impressive first season in charge.

The only concern for Lampard was the sight of Abraham walking gingerly off the pitch when he was substituted late in the second half.

Villa assistant manager John Terry received a warm welcome back to the club he graced as captain for so many successful seasons.

For 90 minutes at least, that was the only hospitality Lampard would extend to Terry and his old Chelsea team-mate’s Villa side.

Lampard had been frustrated with Chelsea’s lack of creativity and cutting edge in their shock 1-0 defeat against West Ham on Saturday, so he would have been encouraged by Christian Pulisic’s early thrust through the heart of the Villa defence.

Pulisic slipped a perfectly-weighted pass to Willian in the Villa area, but the Brazilian’s drive was pushed over by Tom Heaton.

Chelsea were dominating possession, yet when Mount headed tamely at Heaton before blasting over moments later, Lampard might have feared more angst at the hands of a Villa side he lost to three times with Derby last season.

He need not have worried as Abraham’s return from the hip injury that ruled him out of the West Ham game made Chelsea a far more incisive unit and the youngster broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.

 Immediate response 

Abraham scored 26 goals in 40 appearances on loan at Villa and, his confidence sky-high after that success, he has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Chelsea.

His 12th goal in all competitions for Chelsea this term, including 11 in 14 league appearances, showcased his nuanced penalty area movement as he edged subtly away from Ezri Konsa to meet Reece James’ cross with a clinical close-range header.

Having already acknowledged the Villa supporters who chanted his name and jokingly sang “you used to play for a big club”, Abraham opted not to celebrate the goal and held his hands up apologetically towards the away end.

Abraham’s strike should have been the signal for Chelsea to go for the kill, but instead the creaky defence that has been their Achilles heel at times under Lampard was breached far too easily in the 41st minute.

Cesar Azpilicueta, caught out of position, gave Ahmed Elmohamady space to swing over a cross towards Trezeguet, who had no problem getting in front of the ponderous James.

Despite almost losing his footing, the Egypt midfielder got his head to the ball, diverting it onto his foot and past Kepa Arrizabalaga at the near post.

Chelsea needed an immediate response after the interval and they delivered in the 48th minute.

Willian clipped a cross towards Abraham and the striker alertly chested the ball into the path of Mount, who smashed a sublime volley into the roof of the net from 12 yards for his fifth club goal of the season.

Only a fine save from Heaton prevented Willian putting the result beyond doubt after the winger danced through the Villa defence.

Heaton denied Willian again when he brilliantly pushed a free-kick onto the post and Chelsea’s profligacy almost proved fatal when Kepa had to make a fine stop to keep out Douglas Luiz’s header in the last minute.

AFP

Guardiola Asks Players To Improve On Performance

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures to his players during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on October 26, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City to cut out sluggish starts after the champions recovered from a tepid opening to beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Saturday.

Guardiola’s side closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to three points thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan at the Etihad Stadium.

But City boss Guardiola was frustrated with the way his players struggled to establish any momentum in the first half, just days after they fell behind against Atalanta in the Champions League before eventually winning 5-1.

He fears City will be caught out in future if they continue to play so lethargically in the first half.

“Of course, respect and credit for Aston Villa. The first half we played football but we don’t play in the way we should play,” Guardiola said.

“We were better in the second half. I don’t know if it was because of the early goal.

“In the second we play in the way we normally are but we have to try and play 90 minutes. We played just 45.”

City’s second successive league win means Liverpool are under pressure to beat Tottenham at Anfield in Sunday’s clash between last season’s Champions League finalists.

AFP

 

 

Premier League: Sterling Stars As Man City Beat Aston Villa

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) runs to celebrate after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on October 26, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to three points as Raheem Sterling inspired a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side survived a tame opening period as second half goals from Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan put Villa to the sword.

City’s second successive league victory lifted them above Leicester into second place and put pressure on Liverpool to beat Tottenham in Sunday’s clash at Anfield.

The only frustration for Guardiola was a red card for Fernandinho, who was dismissed after earning a second booking when he tugged at Keinan Davis in the 87th minute.

City were upset by Wolves in their last league fixture at the Etihad Stadium, but Guardiola had never lost back-to-back home league games as a manager and Sterling was key to ensuring that impressive record wasn’t ruined.

Sterling’s latest virtuoso display came just days after his second hat-trick of the campaign in City’s Champions League demolition of Atalanta.

The England winger has made a convincing case to be regarded as genuine superstar over the last 18 months and Villa had no answer to his intelligent movement, sublime skills and predatory finishing.

City have scored 32 league goals this season, 11 more than Liverpool, and their firepower was clear to see as they saw off Villa with their record scorer Sergio Aguero on the bench.

Gabriel Jesus made consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since December, but he squandered a chance to put City ahead when he dragged his close-range shot wide from Sterling’s pass.

No fewer than 11 City stars have suffered injuries this season, with Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri the latest to be sidelined for several weeks.

 Route one City 

Guardiola admitted he was “a little bit concerned” about how City would cope, yet with Sterling in his side, anything is possible.

Sterling appealed for a penalty when his shot cannoned off Bjorn Engels’ arm, then glanced a header just wide.

John Stones was back in place of Rodri at the heart of City’s defence, but the England international looked rusty in his first start since September.

He gifted possession to Villa and Douglas Luiz almost took advantage when he tangled with City keeper Ederson, who narrowly avoided conceding a penalty in the melee.

Moments later, Stones threw himself in front of a Trezeguet shot, surviving a penalty appeal after the ball deflected onto his hand.

Despite their lack of rhythm in the first half, City should have been ahead at the break when Sterling teed up David Silva, only for the Spanish midfielder to shoot inches wide of the far post.

Usually firmly dedicated to Guardiola’s passing principles, City finally broke Villa’s stubborn resistence with a goal straight from the route one handbook.

A huge punt forward by Ederson was flicked on by Jesus into the path of the unmarked Sterling, who took one touch before shooting under Tom Heaton for his 13th goal in 14 appearances in all competitions this term.

City should have doubled their lead when Engels gave the ball away to Sterling and he picked out Jesus, but the Brazilian’s shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by Tyrone Mings.

It made no difference as Guardiola’s side were in the groove and they killed off Villa with two goals in five minutes.

In the 65th minute, De Bruyne swung in a cross that evaded Silva and Sterling before bouncing into the net.

A long VAR review followed to check for offside but the goal was given.

Gundogan put the result beyond doubt in the 70th minute with a clinical finish after Villa failed to clear.

AFP

Aubameyang Stars As Arsenal Triumph Over Aston Villa

 

Ten-man Arsenal twice came from a goal down to claim a much-needed 3-2 win over Aston Villa in dramatic fashion thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s free-kick six minutes from time at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Gunners’ winless run in the Premier League seemed set to stretch to four games when John McGinn gave Villa the lead and Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s sending-off four minutes before half-time gave Unai Emery’s men a mountain to climb.

Nicolas Pepe’s first Arsenal goal from the penalty spot briefly brought the Gunners level, but Wesley soon restored Villa’s lead.

Arsenal heart and commitment was questioned after blowing a two-goal lead to draw at Watford last weekend.

But they showed no little spirit as Calum Chambers looped home an equaliser before Aubameyang took centre stage to rifle home a free-kick from the edge of the area.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Beat Chelsea To Extend Perfect Start

A vital three points, which lifts Arsenal up to fourth, is a huge boost for Emery, who has faced questions in recent weeks over his ability to lead the Gunners back to the Champions League next season.

The Spaniard still has to find the right balance in midfield to protect an ailing defence, but with Aubameyang and Pepe in attack, Arsenal always look capable of scoring.

Maitland-Niles’s nightmare afternoon began after barely a minute when he blazed over Arsenal’s best chance of the first half.

The right-back then dragged down Anwar El Ghazi for an early booking that was to prove costly.

McGinn was a constant threat to the Arsenal defence as the Scottish international twice tested Bernd Leno from outside the box.

However, the hosts did not heed those warning shots as McGinn was allowed to ghost in at the far post to turn home El Ghazi’s cross on 20 minutes.

Maitland-Niles then naively dived into a sliding challenge with Neil Taylor and saw a second yellow.

Emery sacrificed 18-year-old Buyako Saka on his first Premier League start for Chambers to fill the void at right-back.

Arsenal’s lifeline

And the hosts were handed a lifeline just before the hour mark when Matteo Guendouzi was bundled over in the box by Bjorn Engels.

Aubameyang stood aside to let Pepe net his first goal since joining Arsenal for a £72 million ($87 million) club-record move from Lille.

But Arsenal’s joy did not last long as their leaky defence was breached easily once more.

Jack Grealish galloped freely through the midfield before squaring for Wesley to prod in at the near post.

Arsenal almost responded once more as Tom Heaton turned Guendouzi’s long-range drive onto the post.

Heaton also tipped over David Luiz’s dipping free-kick, while Aubameyang could not turn Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s knockdown on target.

However, Chambers was in the right place nine minutes from time to score his first Arsenal goal since 2016.

In a topsy-turvy start to the season, Aubameyang has been the man Arsenal can rely on and he stepped forward again to win the game with his seventh goal of the season by drilling a free-kick he won beyond the unsighted Heaton.

Kane’s Double Seal Aston Villa Win For Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (C) scores the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on August 10, 2019. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP.

 

 

Harry Kane scored his first goals at Tottenham’s new stadium as last season’s Champions League finalists came from behind to beat newly-promoted Aston Villa 3-1 on Saturday.

Spurs were on course for a Premier League opening day shock for 73 minutes as they trailed to John McGinn’s early opener.

However, club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele sparked the fightback by curling home from distance to level before Kane struck twice in the final four minutes.

Villa spent over £100 million ($120 million) on 12 new recruits over the summer to try and stabilise themselves as a Premier League force again after three seasons in the second tier.

And there were plenty of promising signs for Dean Smith’s men, particularly in the first 45 minutes, before they wilted under Spurs’ relentless second-half pressure.

Despite a host of new arrivals, it was one of Villa’s heroes in gaining promotion from the Championship last season who stunned Mauricio Pochettino’s men early on.

From a long ball forward, Wesley outmuscled Davinson Sanchez to allow McGinn to burst through and he kept a cool head to leave Danny Rose on the floor before firing into the bottom corner.

The visitors could even have been further ahead had one of their new recruits Trezeguet been more clinical at the end of a couple of promising counter-attacks.

Spurs soon had the visitors penned in, though, as Kane headed over then fired wide when one-on-one with Tom Heaton as half-time approached.

The pressure continued to build on the Villa goal after the break, but Spurs were often too wasteful to take advantage as Moussa Sissoko dragged horribly wide with just Heaton to beat.

Christian Eriksen had been left on the bench with doubts remaining over the Dane’s future with the transfer market across Europe still open until September 2.

Pochettino finally called for his ability to pick the lock of a packed defence 25 minutes from time.

Eriksen certainly did not appear lacking in commitment as he immediately offered the cutting edge Spurs had lacked.

Heaton made a stunning save as Sanchez turned Eriksen’s cross goalwards 17 minutes from time, but the rebound was worked back to Ndombele who curled home from the edge of the area.

Only another brilliant save from Heaton denied Eriksen scoring moments later with a thumping strike from a free-kick.

However, Heaton was helpless four minutes from time when the ball broke Kane’s way and the England captain hammered the ball home to break his duck at Tottenham’s new home.

And within four minutes he had a second with a trademark finish curled low beyond Heaton into the far corner.

 

See the English Premier League results on Saturday below:

Bournemouth 1 (Mepham 62) Sheffield United 1 (Sharp 88)

Burnley 3 (Barnes 63, 70, Gudmundsson 75) Southampton 0

Crystal Palace 0 Everton 0

Tottenham 3 (Ndombele 73, Kane 86, 90) Aston Villa 1 (McGinn 9)

Watford 0 Brighton 3 (Doucoure 28-og, Andone 65, Maupay 77)

West Ham 0 Manchester City 5 (Jesus 25, Sterling 51, 75, 90+1, Aguero 86-pen)

Playing Sunday

Leicester v Wolves, Newcastle v Arsenal (both 1300), Manchester United v Chelsea (1530)

Played Friday

Liverpool 4 (Hanley 7-og, Salah 19, Van Dijk 28, Origi 42) Norwich 1 (Pukki 64)

AFP

Aston Villa Sign Goalkeeper Tom Heaton For £8m

Burnley goalkeeper Thomas Heaton during the English championship Premier League football match between Everton and Burnley on May 3, 2019 at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England. Credit: CRAIG GALLOWAY.

 

Aston Villa on Thursday announced the arrival of goalkeeper Tom Heaton from Burnley — their 11th signing of a busy summer transfer window after winning promotion to the Premier League.

The 33-year-old moves to Villa Park for an undisclosed fee, reported to be £8 million ($9.7 million).

“I am delighted that Tom is joining Aston Villa,” boss Dean Smith told the club website.

“He’s done fantastically well for Burnley over the past few years and his experience and knowledge of the Premier League will be a major asset to us this season.”

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Heaton, who started his career at Manchester United, made 200 appearances for the Clarets after moving to Turf Moor from Bristol City in 2013.

The goalkeeper said there was “momentum” at Aston Villa after their promotion from the Championship in May.

“It’s been a busy window so far — a lot of signings,” he said. “But it needed to happen with a lot of players having also left the club.

“The majority of the signings are young, hungry and athletic. It’s a really exciting time for Aston Villa and I’m delighted to be a part of that.”

AFP