FA Cup: Liverpool Beat Depleted Aston Villa To Advance

Liverpool's Senegalese striker Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the English FA Cup third round football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 8, 2021. HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP
Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the English FA Cup third round football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 8, 2021. HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool survived a scare from coronavirus-ravaged Aston Villa to reach the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-1 win against opponents missing their entire first-team squad as the pandemic wreaks havoc on English football.

Villa fielded a raw side comprised entirely of youth academy players and were without boss Dean Smith after being hit hard by a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this week.

In all, 14 unnamed Villa employees — nine players and five staff — have tested positive, forcing the Premier League club to close their training base on Thursday because of the outbreak.

Liverpool played a strong side for the third round tie at Villa Park, but Villa’s youngsters acquitted themselves well.

Four of Villa’s starting line-up weren’t even born when Liverpool midfielder James Milner made his professional debut for Leeds in 2002.

But they gave Liverpool a shock when Louie Barry cancelled out Sadio Mane’s opener.

Eventually, the Premier League champions’ class told with a blitz of three goals in five minutes in the second half.

Georginio Wijnaldum struck before Mane and Mohamed Salah sealed a first win in four games in all competitions for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

“The kids did really well,” Klopp said. “We had problems in passing and moving. Too many on the wrong side of the ball, not enough recoveries of passes.

“We had chances and shot directly at the goalie. It was rusty but better in the second half. We have a lot players with no rhythm.”

Mark Delaney, the Villa Under-23 coach deputising for Smith, added: “We are all very proud as a club, as coaches and players. That was a monumental effort considering what the players have had to go through.”

That Villa, whose team had an average age of 18 and 294 days, ended the night with their heads held high was all the more remarkable given their CEO Christian Purslow’s frank pre-match assessment.

“Our experience of this situation in the past two days has been a frightening scenario because we went from 100 percent negative on 1 January to 14 cases,” Purslow told BT Sport.

“Many of the players tonight are so young their mums and dads will be dropping them off at Villa Park.”

There are growing concerns over whether the Premier League season can be completed on time as the new virus variant plagues Britain.

The FA Cup has not escaped the chaos and Southampton’s third round tie against Shrewsbury on Sunday has been postponed after several positive tests at the League One team.

Derby’s first-team squad will miss their tie at Chorley on Saturday because of a virus outbreak.

A record-high 40 positive tests were detected among top-flight players and staff in the week between December 28 and January 3 and four Premier League games have already been postponed this term.

The English Football League, which oversees the three divisions below the Premier League, reported 112 positive tests on Friday.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce and Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa claim there is a moral argument to suspend all matches after the latest national lockdown ordered by the government.

Despite the resurgent virus, Premier League officials are adamant the season will proceed and Liverpool took advantage of Villa’s problems to get back on track.

They needed just four minutes to take the lead when Mane headed home from Curtis Jones’ pin-point cross.

Yet Liverpool were caught with a stunning counter-punch in the 41st minute.

Barry, a 17-year-old striker who joined Villa from Barcelona last year, sprinted onto Callum Rowe’s pass, left Rhys Williams trailing in his wake and planted a brilliant finish into the far corner.

If Liverpool were experiencing flashbacks to the humiliation of their 7-2 Premier League defeat at Villa in October, Wijnaldum restored order in the 60th minute when the midfielder swept home from the edge of the area.

Mane netted with a looping header over Akos Onodi in the 63rd minute before Salah turned to fire home from 10 yards two minutes later.

In Friday’s other third round tie, Wolves beat Crystal Palace 1-0 thanks to Adama Traore’s 35th minute goal.

 

AFP

Aston Villa Suffer COVID-19 Outbreak As Concerns Grow For Premier League Season

Aston Villa’s Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez throws the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Tim Goode / POOL / AFP

 

Aston Villa became the fourth Premier League club to suffer a coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, adding to growing concerns over whether English football’s top-flight can complete the season on schedule.

Villa were forced to cancel training and close their training ground after two rounds of testing returned multiple positive cases of Covid-19 among players and staff.

Britain is battling a highly infectious strain of the virus which has forced a new nationwide lockdown after cases soared in recent days.

“A large number of first-team players and staff returned positive tests after being routinely tested on Monday and immediately went into isolation,” Villa said in a statement.

“A second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today.”

The Birmingham-based club’s FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool on Friday is now at risk of being postponed.

“First-team training ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup match with Liverpool was cancelled,” Villa’s statement added.

“Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the club, the Football Association and the Premier League.”

Premier League Southampton’s FA Cup home match against Shrewsbury has already been postponed because there have been a number of positive cases at the League One club.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby will fulfil their fixture at minnows Chorley with a youth team after nine positive tests among first-team players and staff.

– Fixture pile-up –

On Tuesday, a record high of 40 positive tests were detected among Premier League players and staff in the week between December 28 and January 3.

Three Premier League matches were postponed last week due to outbreaks at Manchester City and Fulham.

Due to the late end to last season, the league is less than halfway through the 2020/21 campaign.

The packed fixture schedule, with domestic leagues, cup and European competitions having to be finished before the delayed Euro 2020 starting on June 11, leaves little room for manoeuvre.

Despite the rising case numbers and calls from some within the game for a circuit breaker to buy time and bring infection rates down, the Premier League has so far been adamant that the season will proceed.

“With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the league continues to have confidence in its Covid-19 protocols, fully backed by the government, to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled,” the league said on Tuesday.

However, a number of embarrassing incidents have come to light in which prominent players have flouted coronavirus restrictions, doing little to aid English football’s case to keep going while movements in the rest of the country are highly restricted.

Pictures of Tottenham trio Erik Lamela, Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso and West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini attending a Christmas party with family and friends emerged over the weekend, prompting Spurs to promise internal disciplinary proceedings.

Manchester City have also launched an investigation after left-back Benjamin Mendy admitted to breaching Covid protocols by hosting a New Year’s Eve party.

Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic also broke the rules to attend a New Year’s Eve party.

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow has been among those calling for tougher sanctions for players who break the regulations and put the season at risk.

Villa captain Jack Grealish was fined two weeks’ wages by the club for a breach of the rules last year.

“There are moments when young people will stray from the rules and, whether you’re a parent or the chief executive of a football club, that’s a time when you have to be very strict and remind people of their responsibilities,” Purslow said earlier this week.

Despite the new national lockdown that came into force in England on Wednesday, the British government has said elite sport can continue despite the tighter restrictions.

AFP

EPL: Ten-Man Villa Beat Crystal Palace To Move Into Top Six

Aston Villa's English midfielder Jack Grealish (L) and Aston Villa's English striker Ollie Watkins (R) congratulate Aston Villa's Dutch striker Anwar El Ghazi after he scored their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on December 26, 2020. Tim Keeton / POOL / AFP
Aston Villa’s English midfielder Jack Grealish (L) and Aston Villa’s English striker Ollie Watkins (R) congratulate Aston Villa’s Dutch striker Anwar El Ghazi after he scored their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on December 26, 2020. Tim Keeton / POOL / AFP

 

Aston Villa’s transformation from just staying up on the final day of last season to contending for Europe continued on Saturday as they held on a man down for the full second half to beat Crystal Palace 3-0.

The win moved Villa into the top six on the English Premier League table.

The Eagles were thrashed 7-0 by Liverpool last weekend and got off to another dreadful start as Bertrand Traore turned in the rebound after Vicente Guaita saved Ollie Watkins’s first effort.

A tussle between Tyrone Mings and Wilfried Zaha resulted in a yellow card for both and moments later when Mings blocked off Zaha, the England international was dismissed in first-half stoppage time.

However, Villa soaked up the pressure and the 10 men extended their lead when Kortney Hause forced the ball home from close range after Watkins’s header came off the bar.

Watkins also played a part in the third as he teed up Anwar El Ghazi to fire in off the far post for his fourth goal in four games.

 

AFP

Aston Villa Captain Grealish Gets Nine-Month Driving Ban

Aston Villa’s English midfielder Jack Grealish (C) scores their seventh goal past Liverpool’s Spanish goalkeeper Adrian during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on October 4, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP).

 

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish was given a nine-month driving ban on Tuesday after crashing his Range Rover during the coronavirus lockdown in March.

Grealish was sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court after previously pleading guilty to two charges.

The 25-year-old’s vehicle hit two parked vehicles in Dickens Heath, Solihull, West Midlands.

As well as the driving ban, England midfielder Grealish was also fined £82,499 ($110,271).

A judge was told that a witness said Grealish smelled of “intoxicating liquor” and was slurring his words immediately after the crash on March 29.

Grealish was involved in the incident less than 24 hours after issuing a Twitter video message urging people to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

He also pleaded guilty to a separate offence of careless driving after prosecutors said an unmarked police car spotted him driving at more than 90mph along the M42 at “close to an intimidating distance” on October 18.

READ ALSO: Neymar Stretchered Off In PSG’s Defeat To Lyon

Grealish was also ordered to pay costs of £220 and a victim surcharge of £181, taking his total in costs and fines to £82,900 – all payable within seven days.

Prior to the convictions, Grealish already had six points on his driving licence for a speeding offence in 2018.

He will have to apply for a new licence once his ban ends.

AFP

Aston Villa Shock Arsenal, Condemn Arteta To Joint-Heaviest Managerial Defeat

Arsenal’s German goalkeeper Bernd Leno (L) and his teammates react after they concede the third goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium in London on November 8, 2020. Aston Villa won the game 3-0. Photo: AFP

 

Aston Villa stormed into sixth in the Premier League as Ollie Watkins scored twice in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates.

Bukayo Saka’s own goal opened the scoring for the visitors, who could have run up an even more flattering score as John McGinn saw a goal harshly ruled out by VAR and Jack Grealish was denied by a goal-line clearance from Dani Ceballos.

Arsenal had beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 14 years last weekend in what appeared to be the latest sign the Gunners are heading in the right direction under Mikel Arteta.

But the Spaniard suffered the joint heaviest defeat of his managerial career in a chastening evening for the hosts, who were second best from start to finish.

Villa thought they had taken the lead inside the first minute when McGinn rifled into the roof of the net from Grealish’s pass.

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However, after a VAR review lasting over four minutes, the goal was ruled out for Ross Barkley in an offside position standing in front of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno being ruled to be interfering with play.

Villa had lost their last two matches after a stunning start to the season that included a 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool a month ago.

But Dean Smith’s side did not look like a team lacking confidence as Arsenal struggled to cope with the movement of Grealish, Barkley and Watkins.

Barkley’s pass freed Matt Targett down the left and his cross was turned into his own net by Saka as he desperately tried to stop Trezeguet from applying the final touch.

Alexandre Lacazette wasted Arsenal’s best chance to get back into the game when he wastefully headed over Kieran Tierney’s cross just before half-time.

There was a further blow to the hosts at the break as £45 million ($59 million) new signing Thomas Partey had to be replaced by Ceballos due to a thigh injury.

Villa remained the bigger threat in the second-half as Bernd Leno was forced into saves by Trezeguet and Grealish.

The visitors finally killed the game off as a contest 18 minutes from time when Watkins — who scored a hat-trick in the famous win over Liverpool — headed home Barkley’s excellent volleyed cross.

Ceballos saved Arsenal moments later when Grealish seemed set to get the goal his performance deserved.

A brilliant counter-attack then did give the scoreline the reflection Villa deserved as Grealish drove forward before feeding Watkins to fire past Leno.

A second consecutive home defeat for Arsenal sees Arteta’s men slip to 11th, four points off their major target for the season of a top-four finish.

Villa on the other hand are starting to dream about what could be possible as they lie just three points off the top of the table with a game in hand.

AFP

Aston Villa Lash Liverpool 7-2

Aston Villa’s English midfielder Jack Grealish (C) scores their seventh goal past Liverpool’s Spanish goalkeeper Adrian during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on October 4, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP) /

 

Liverpool’s 100 percent start to the Premier League season came to an end in stunning fashion as Ollie Watkins’s first-half hat-trick helped Aston Villa thrash the English champions 7-2 on Sunday.

Deflected efforts from John McGinn, Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish compounded a night to forget for Jurgen Klopp’s men before Grealish completed the scoring.

It is the first time Liverpool have conceded seven goals in a game since 1963.

The Reds were not beaten until their 28th league game in romping to the title last season.

But a fine start to their title defence came undone without injured goalkeeper Alisson Becker and with Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane unavailable due to coronavirus infections.

Alisson’s absence made a telling impact after just four minutes to get Villa in front as Adrian’s poor pass was seized upon by Grealish, who squared for the former Watkins to score his first Premier League goal.

Mane was also missed at the other end as Liverpool laid seige to the Villa goal, but were too easily opened up on the counter-attack.

Barkley twice should have opened his Villa account in the first-half as he skewed shots wide from close range either side of Watkins’s second.

Grealish was again the creator with a long ball down the side of the Liverpool defence and the former Brentford striker cut inside before blasting into the top corner.

Mohamed Salah seemed to have got the visitors a foothold back in the match when he slammed home on his trusty left-foot after Mane’s understudy, Diogo Jota, tried to burrow a way into the penalty area.

But Villa quickly restored their two-goal cushion when John McGinn’s effort from the edge of the area deflected in off Virgil van Dijk.

Liverpool’s high line was being caught out even from set plays as six minutes before the break Trezeguet broke the offside trap to cross for Watkins to become the first player in a decade to score a hat-trick against Liverpool.

Fortune favoured Villa’s desire not to just sit on their lead after the break as Barkley’s long-range effort looped over the helpless Adrian to make it 5-1.

Salah remained razor sharp in front of goal to move within one away from 100 for Liverpool with a brilliant finish from Roberto Firmino’s pass.

Having seen enough from Joe Gomez, Klopp moved midfielder Firmino into his back four early in the second-half, but it did nothing to stem the flow of Villa attacks cutting through his defence.

Grealish completed a hat-trick of deflected goals when his shot hit Fabinho to wrong-foot Adrian again.

Watkins missed two huge chances to score his fourth as Adrian saved a one-on-one before he hit the crossbar.

Grealish, though, was more clinical when he raced through to round off a remarkable victory.

Villa stayed up by a single point on the final day of last season, but they have now won their opening three games of the new league campaign to move up to second.

AFP

Aston Villa Sign Chelsea’s Barkley On Loan

Ross Barkley joins Villa on a season-long loan. Photo: [email protected] Villa

 

Aston Villa have announced the signing of midfielder Ross Barkley on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

The 26-year-old had made three appearances for Frank Lampard’s side this season, scoring once.

Villa manager Dean Smith said: “Capturing a player of Ross’s quality is a real coup for our club and I am certain he will thrive here and improve our team.”

The England international has been at Stamford Bridge since joining from Everton in January 2018.

https://twitter.com/AVFCOfficial/status/1311249680089649152?s=20

He will be unavailable for Thursday’s League Cup visit of Stoke, having already played in the competition for Chelsea this season.

Smith’s side have won their opening two Premier League games and Barkley could make his debut against Liverpool on Sunday.

AFP

Martinez’s Penalty Heroics Sees Aston Villa Begin League On Winning Note

Aston Villa’s English defender Ezri Konsa (L) jumps to head the ball to score the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Aston Villa kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 victory over 10-man Sheffield United on Monday as Ezri Konsa bagged the winner after Emiliano Martinez saved a penalty for the hosts.

United were a man down early on after captain John Egan was sent off for a foul on Ollie Watkins.

Villa keeper Martinez saved John Lundstram’s first-half penalty in his first appearance following his £17 million ($21 million) move from Arsenal last week.

 

Aston Villa’s Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez throws the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Tim Goode / POOL / AFP

 

Konsa sealed the points in the second half with a looping header, a well-earned reward for a committed display after he played on despite appearing to injure himself sprinting out for the second half.

It was the perfect start for Dean Smith’s side, who beat Burton Albion in the League Cup second round last week, as they look to avoid a repeat of last season’s relegation battle.

After losing at home to Wolves last weekend, United have now lost their last five league games dating back to last season.

Former Nottingham Forest right-back Matty Cash was given his Villa debut after his close-season transfer and his deep cross provided an early half-chance for John McGinn, who volleyed over from an acute angle.

Watkins, another of Villa’s new boys, played a key role as United were reduced to 10 men in the 12th minute.

Tyrone Mings’ high long ball sent Watkins racing through on goal and Egan responded by tugging him back, with referee Graham Scott showing the defender a red card that was confirmed by VAR.

Wilder introduced on-loan Chelsea defender Ethan Ampadu and moved Chris Basham into midfield and the switch earned United their penalty in the 36th minute.

Basham’s clever run onto Oliver Burke’s pass forced Matt Targett to concede the spot-kick, but Martinez came to his rescue as he dived to his right to keep out Lundstram’s strike.

Villa found it hard to make the numerical advantage count and their frustration was mounting when Watkins missed the target from Cash’s cross.

But Konsa finally broke the deadlock from a 63rd-minute corner when the defender met Mings’ flick-on with a header that floated past Aaron Ramsdale into the far corner.

 

Aston Villa’s Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez throws the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 21, 2020. Tim Goode / POOL / AFP

 

Seven of Villa’s last nine league goals have now come from set-pieces.

Jack Grealish was close to putting the result beyond doubt when he curled just wide from the edge of the area.

AFP

Villa Sign Lyon Forward Traore

Lyon’s Burkinabe forward Bertrand Traore (R) kicks the ball during a training session at the Restelo Stadium in Lisbon on August 16, 2020, a day after defeating Manchester City during their UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Aston Villa signed Burkina Faso forward Bertrand Traore from Lyon for a reported £17 million ($21 million) on Saturday.

Traore returns to the Premier League after starting his career with Chelsea, where he spent three years with Villa’s current assistant manager John Terry.

The 25-year-old’s signing is another boost to Villa’s attacking options after the arrival of Ollie Watkins from Brentford for a club-record £28 million earlier this month.

“We’re delighted that Bertrand has chosen to come to Villa,”  manager Dean Smith told his club’s website.

“He’s a player with immense talent who will really enhance our attacking options.”

Villa, who escaped relegation on the final day of last season, have also recently signed Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Nottingham Forest right-back Matty Cash.

Smith’s side kicks off their Premier League campaign at home to Sheffield United on Monday.

AFP

Arsenal Goalkeeper Martinez Joins Aston Villa

Emiliano Martinez
Emiliano Martinez leaves Arsenal after ten years. Photo: [email protected] Villa.

 

 

Aston Villa announced the signing of Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez on Wednesday for a reported fee of £20 million ($26 million).

The 28-year-old Argentine, who has signed a four-year deal, helped Arsenal to FA Cup victory last season and Community Shield glory last month but faced playing second fiddle to Bernd Leno this season.

Villa boss Dean Smith said: “We are really pleased with the signing of our new goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. We know how highly Arsenal rated him and we watched his outstanding performances last season in a trophy-winning top side.

“We moved for Emi when we saw the opportunity, as it is rare to be able to buy a top-class goalkeeper who hasn’t yet reached their peak age and who can therefore be a key player for our club for the long term.”

Martinez ends a 10-year association with the Gunners, following Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins in moving to Villa Park.

https://twitter.com/AVFCOfficial/status/1306181283102355456?s=20

He was signed from Independiente in 2010, making 39 first-team appearances and spending time on loan at six clubs.

“Thank you, thank you for all of the years (of support),” Martinez told Arsenal.com. “I thank God for having the opportunity over the past few months to show the Arsenal fanbase what I am made of, and why I went on loan so many times.

“It was always to come back and win them trophies and give them silverware. I did it, I feel prouder than ever.”

AFP

Villa Out Of Relegation Zone After Edging Arsenal

Aston Villa's English defender Ezri Konsa celebrates after the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on July 21, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP
Aston Villa’s English defender Ezri Konsa celebrates after the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on July 21, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

Aston Villa climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone as Egypt winger Trezeguet clinched a priceless 1-0 win against Arsenal on Tuesday.

Dean Smith’s side have their survival fate in their own hands after Trezeguet’s first-half strike at Villa Park.

Watford’s 4-0 thrashing against Manchester City earlier on Tuesday had opened the door for Villa to escape the bottom three.

And Villa seized their chance with a first home Premier League win over Arsenal in 18 attempts dating back to 1998.

Villa are now fourth bottom and have moved ahead of third bottom Watford on goal difference, with Smith’s men on -26 compared to the Hornets’ -27.

They head to West Ham for their final game of the season on Sunday, while Watford visit Arsenal and second-bottom Bournemouth, three points from safety, travel to Everton.

There are a multitude of permutations that could decide relegation, but Villa will be safe if they can better Watford’s result on what is certain to be a dramatic finale.

If Villa and Watford both win, goal difference or goals scored will decide who goes down.

Having secured an FA Cup final place by beating Manchester City on Saturday, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta made six changes and Arsenal looked a shadow of the team who impressed at Wembley.

Arsenal cannot finish higher than eighth and must win the FA Cup final against Chelsea to qualify for next season’s Europa League.

They are certain to finish below north London rivals Tottenham for a fourth successive season.

Villa kicked off just minutes after the final whistle at Watford, whose captain Troy Deeney found himself in the awkward position of looking for a favour from an Arsenal team he had mocked for lacking passion in the past.

If Smith was expecting his team to use the motivation from Watford’s defeat to make a fast start, he must have been disappointed by their tepid opening.

Trezeguet steps up

The most notable incident in the early stages was a plane flying over Villa Park with a banner that read “Back Arteta Kroenke Out” in a pointed message to Arsenal’s US-based owner after another troubled season.

Villa were struggling to find any rhythm, but the drinks break offered Smith a chance to fire up his players.

Crucially, Arsenal’s long-standing weakness at set-pieces reared its head again as Villa snatched the lead in the 27th minute.

Aston Villa's Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina (R) jumps for the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on July 21, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP
Aston Villa’s Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina (R) jumps for the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on July 21, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

Tyrone Mings glanced Conor Hourihane’s corner across the six-yard box and Trezeguet was left unmarked to blast a fierce strike past Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez.

Trezeguet has been Villa’s savour as the stakes have got higher and his vital goal followed his brace in the victory against Crystal Palace nine days earlier.

The 25-year-old’s seventh goal of the season came from Villa’s first shot on target and he had their second as well with a header that Martinez grasped gratefully.

Jack Grealish, strongly linked with a close-season move, was captaining Villa in what could have been his last home game with the club he supported as a boy.

If it was to be his farewell, Grealish almost made it a memorable one with a long-range curler that flashed just wide.

Arteta sent on the revitalised Granit Xhaka at half-time and Arsenal immediately improved.

Cedric Soares’ cross found Bukayo Saka, who shot over from a good position 12 yards out, then Ezri Konsa threw himself into a brave block to repel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot.

Keinan Davis wasted a golden opportunity to seal the points when he raced onto Grealish’s pass, only to drag his shot wide.

With the tension mounting, Villa rode their luck when Eddie Nketiah’s glancing header hit the post and bounced back into Pepe Reina’s hands.

 

 

AFP

Leicester Closer To Securing UCL Spot After Beating Sheffield As Villa Hold Everton

leicester-city
Leicester City’s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers (R) congratulates Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (C) at the end of the game during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on July 16, 2020. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

 

 

Leicester moved a step closer to Champions League qualification after a 2-0 win against Sheffield United while Aston Villa’s survival hopes were seriously damaged as Everton snatched a late draw on Thursday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side earned their first win in three games thanks to goals from Ayoze Perez and Demarai Gray at the King Power Stadium.

It was an essential result after Leicester’s 4-1 thrashing by lowly Bournemouth on Sunday.

Leicester remain in fourth place, just one point behind third-placed Chelsea and three ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United, who face Crystal Palace later on Thursday.

The Foxes face a tense run-in as they bid to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.

Their next match is at Tottenham on Sunday before a potentially decisive home clash with Manchester United on the last day of the season.

Sheffield United’s first defeat in five games was a blow to their hopes of reaching the Europa League at the climax of a fine first season back in the top-flight.

Aged 19 years, 36 days, academy graduate Luke Thomas was the third youngest player to make his first Premier League start for Leicester after Emile Heskey and Stuart Campbell.

The England Under-19 left-back laid on an early chance for Perez when his cross was headed over by the Leicester winger.

 

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Sheffield United’s English defender Jack O’Connell (C) jumps to head the ball as Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (3rd R) comes out to punch the ball away during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on July 16, 2020. David Davies / POOL / AFP

 

Jamie Vardy forced Dean Henderson to save with his legs and the Blades keeper had to be alert again moments later to deny Perez’s volley from another Thomas cross.

It was third time lucky for Perez as the Spaniard put Leicester ahead in the 29th minute with his first goal since January.

Perez started the attack with a pass wide to Thomas and took the return ball before drilling low past Henderson from just inside the penalty area.

Vardy hit the post from Youri Tielemens’ defence-splitting pass soon after the interval, with Henderson twice tested by Harvey Barnes as Leicester pushed for a second.

John Egan’s header forced a fine save from Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, but Gray’s deft finish sealed the points from Vardy’s pass in the 79th minute.

Everton Held At Home

At Goodison Park, Villa were within touching distance of a second successive win after Ezri Konsa put them ahead in the second half.

But Theo Walcott brought Everton level in the 87th minute when his header was ruled to have crossed the line.

It was an agonising blow for Villa, who remain second bottom and sit three points from safety with just two games left.

With West Ham and Watford — the two teams directly above the relegation zone — meeting on Friday, Villa aren’t down yet, but they are in grave danger of an immediate return to the Championship.

 

villa-everton
Aston Villa’s Dutch striker Anwar El Ghazi (C) misses a goal opportunity during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on July 16, 2020. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

No English top-flight fixture has been played more often than Everton against Villa, but it might not be on the schedule next season after the late drama.

Mbwana Samatta headed Villa’s first chance well over from a good position before Jack Grealish wasted two good chances early in the second half.

Villa finally took the lead with their first shot on target in the 72nd minute.

Conor Hourihane’s free-kick curled into the six-yard box and Konsa stuck out a leg to poke in his first Premier League goal.

But with time ticking down, Walcott meet a deep cross with a looping header that crept over the line with an assist from Konsa’s despairing overhead attempt to clear.