Awful Man United Crash At Aston Villa In Emery’s First Game 

Aston Villa’s French defender Lucas Digne (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on November 6, 2022. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP)

 

Manchester United lost woefully to Aston Villa at Villa Park in Unai Emery’s first game in charge of the Claret and Blue. 

United were unbeaten in nine games as the Red Devils appeared to be taking shape under Erik ten Hag.

But despite the lavish amounts spent to assemble the United squad, a lack of strength in depth was exposed with Antony, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane missing due to injury and Bruno Fernandes suspended.

Emery could not have asked for a better start to his time in charge of Villa as Leon Bailey smashed across David de Gea and Lucas Digne’s free-kick found the top corner inside 11 minutes.

Luke Shaw’s strike that deflected off Jacob Ramsey into his own net gave the visitors hope just before half-time.

Villa, though, quickly restored their two-goal lead when Ramsey side-footed into the top corner on 49 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo captained United just weeks after being disciplined for refusing Ten Hag’s orders to come on as a substitute.

On another frustrating afternoon for Ronaldo, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner survived a VAR review for a red card after clashing with Tyrone Mings.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Beat Chelsea At Stamford Bridge, Return As League Leaders

Newcastle’s sixth win in seven games took them above Tottenham into third for a few hours at least.

Miguel Almiron continued his stunning form with a seventh goal in as many games to open the scoring in sodden conditions at St. Mary’s.

The onlooking England manager Gareth Southgate then had to suffer two injury scares as Kieran Trippier required treatment on a muscle injury before Callum Wilson was replaced at half-time.

Southampton twice should have levelled as Mohammed Elyounoussi and Che Adams missed glorious chances.

There was no way back for Ralph Hassenhuttl’s men once Chris Wood made the most of his rare chance to impress as Wilson’s replacement by curling into the far corner before Trippier set up Joe Willock to make it 3-0.

Romain Perraud pulled a goal back a minute from time, but Newcastle had the final word when Bruno Guimaraes curled into the bottom corner to leave the Saints still rooted in the relegation zone.

Spurs can leapfrog the Magpies back into third should they inflict a third consecutive league defeat on Liverpool later on Sunday.

Michael Olise struck the winner for Crystal Palace deep into stoppage time as a 2-1 win at West Ham lifted the Eagles up to ninth.

AFP

Aston Villa Appoints Villarreal’s Emery As New Coach

Ex-Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on September 1, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Former Arsenal coach Unai Emery will return to the Premier League in November as the new head coach of Aston Villa, the English club announced on Monday.

Emery, who leaves his post at Spanish club Villarreal, takes over from Steven Gerrard who was sacked last week after Villa slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Fulham.

In a statement, the Midlands club said: “Aston Villa is delighted to announce the appointment of Unai Emery as the club’s new head coach.”

Villa described Emery as a “highly experienced top level coach who has managed over 900 games”.

The 50-year-old led Villarreal to Europa League success in 2021, beating Manchester United in the final, before guiding them to the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League last season where they lost to Liverpool.

Prior to that he also took Sevilla to three successive Europa League titles between 2013 and 2016, going on to lift Ligue 1 in France with Paris Saint-Germain.

During his spell at Arsenal he lead the Gunners to the 2019 Europa League final where they were humbled 4-1 by Chelsea.

Villa said Emery, who was due to be out of contract with Villarreal at the end of this season, will take over from November 1 after work permit formalities are completed.

It will be Emery’s second Premier League stint after managing Arsenal for 18 months before he was dismissed following a seven-match losing run.

Former Liverpool and England midfielder Gerrard paid the price for Villa’s wretched start to the season, which sees the club languishing just one place above the Premier League relegation zone.

Villa have won only two of their 11 league matches this term and their tame surrender at Craven Cottage proved the final straw for the club’s hierarchy as they axed Gerrard after just 11 months in charge.

Villarreal said Emery would hold a farewell press conference at the club’s training ground on Tuesday.

“Head coach Unai Emery has informed Villareal CF of his unilateral decision to terminate his contract with the club,” the Spanish outfit said in a statement.

“Emery has gone down in Villarreal CF history for becoming the first coach to win a title with the club, the UEFA Europa League, as well as the historic achievement of reaching the Champions League semi-finals last year.

“Villarreal CF would like to thank Unai Emery for the work he has done and wishes him the best of luck in his career.”

AFP

Gerrard Sacked By Struggling Villa After Fulham Defeat

Aston Villa's English head coach Steven Gerrard reacts during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on October 16, 2022. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)
Aston Villa’s English head coach Steven Gerrard reacts during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on October 16, 2022. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)

 

Steven Gerrard was sacked as Aston Villa manager less than two hours after his struggling side crashed to a dismal 3-0 defeat at Fulham on Thursday.

Gerrard paid the price for Villa’s wretched start to the season, which sees the club languishing just one place above the Premier League relegation zone.

“Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that head coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect,” a statement said.

“We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”

Haaland Strikes Again But Villa Hold Man City

Manchester City's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (R) scores his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 3, 2022. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP)
Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (R) scores his team first goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on September 3, 2022. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP)

 

Erling Haaland extended his remarkable start to life in the Premier League, but Pep Guardiola admitted Manchester City were not precise enough in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at struggling Aston Villa.

Haaland has been remarkably prolific since his £51 million ($58 million) move from Borussia Dortmund in the close-season and he struck again in the second half at Villa Park.

The Norway striker’s 10th goal in his first six Premier League games gave him a share of the record with Micky Quinn, who hit the same tally for Coventry in 1992.

But Guardiola’s side were punished for failing to build on their lead as Leon Bailey’s blistering finish left the champions frustrated.

“We were not precise in our final third touches, especially in the first half. We had chances to score a second when the game was in our hands but we didn’t,” Guardiola said.

“We were just not precise enough in the crosses, we missed a few situations and that’s why we could not score. We defended well apart from one action.”

It was the first time this season City had failed to score more than once in a game, after netting 19 times in their opening five matches.

After their 3-3 draw against Newcastle in August, this was the second time they had failed to take maximum points.

Unbeaten City sit in second place, above Tottenham on goal difference and one point behind leaders Arsenal, who play their game in hand at Manchester United on Sunday.

Villa are outside the relegation zone on goals scored after a battling display that should ease the pressure on under-fire boss Steven Gerrard for a few days at least.

“I’ll always take the hits, that’s my job. The players have come together today. They put an incredible amount of effort into the game,” Gerrard said.

“We have lost too many points this season and we need to do things slightly different.”

Kevin De Bruyne was back in the City line-up in place of Julian Alvarez after the Belgium star was rested for the 6-0 rout of Nottingham Forest.

De Bruyne announced his return with a long-range blast that fizzed just wide before unfurling a sublime pass that Ilkay Gundogan flicked narrowly off target.

With Guardiola’s men camped in the Villa half, Ollie Watkins almost caught them on the break as he glided into the City area and shot past the far post.

Held without a single shot on target in the first half, City finally broke through five minutes after the interval.

Predatory Haaland

Once again, it was Haaland who did the damage and De Bruyne who provided the assist.

Taking possession wide on the right flank, De Bruyne curled a brilliant cross to the far post, cutting out Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez, who could only watch helplessly as Haaland volley home from close-range.

Although City were controlling possession, their slender lead gave Villa hope and Bailey threatened an equaliser when his 20-yard drive whistled wide.

Haaland never stopped searching for another chance to add to his tally and he was twice denied by Martinez, while De Bruyne crashed a free-kick off the bar.

But City’s rare failure to turn territorial dominance into a resounding victory came back to haunt them with 16 minutes left.

Villa tenaciously won a series of challenges to pen City in before Jacob Ramsey whipped over a cross that Bailey volleyed past Ederson with superb technique for his first league goal in over a year.

The Holte End erupted as Gerrard punched the air before trying to control his emotions on the touchline.

Villa were controversially denied a winner when Philippe Coutinho curled home, only for an offside flag to disallow the effort, which couldn’t be checked by VAR because the referee’s whistle was blown before the shot.

Rodri was agonisingly close to winning it for City in the closing moments when he rifled a low drive narrowly wide.

Man City Win 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback


Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes on Sunday.

Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.

In scenes remiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd-minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.

Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.

Rodri then side-footed home from outside the box and Gundogan completed the fightback by tapping home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross at the back post.

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Guardiola said before the game he wanted no repeat of Aguero’s legendary late strike a decade ago.

But the Calatan was the most relieved man in Manchester as he sealed the 10th league title of his coaching career in just 13 seasons.

Fans swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate at full-time and the crossbar at the goal where City scored all of their goals was snapped under the weight of supporters sitting on it.

AFP

Mane To The Rescue As Liverpool Keep Title Hopes Alive At Villa Park

Liverpool's Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates scoring the team's second goal with Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) and Liverpool's Portuguese striker Diogo Jota during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on May 10, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates scoring the team’s second goal with Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson (C) and Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on May 10, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool kept their Premier League title hopes alive as Sadio Mane’s winner beat Aston Villa 2-1 on Tuesday to move level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table.

The Reds quickly made amends for a slow start as Joel Matip cancelled out Douglas Luiz’s opener inside six minutes.

Mane’s fine header 25 minutes from time then did enough to keep the pressure on City, who have a game in hand away to Wolves on Wednesday.

However, Liverpool’s narrow margin of victory keeps Pep Guardiola’s men top on goal difference.

READ ALSO: Guardiola Hints Man City Closing In On Haaland Deal

Victory also came at a cost for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who lost Fabinho to a muscle injury that is likely to rule him out of both Saturday’s FA Cup final and the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28.

With one eye on Wembley, Klopp rolled the dice with his team selection as Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara were left on the bench, while there was no place in the squad for Andy Robertson.

The visitors looked like a much-changed side as Villa sprang out of the traps and caught them cold.

Alisson Becker had already denied Ollie Watkins by the time Steven Gerrard’s men took the lead on three minutes.

Luiz’s header was parried by Alisson, but only back into the path of his Brazilian international teammate to hammer the rebound high into the net.

Villa won this fixture 7-2 last season, but Liverpool this time bounced straight back from the early blow of conceding.

The hosts did not deal with a free-kick into the box and the ball eventually broke for Virgil van Dijk to square for his centre-back partner Matip to apply the finishing touch.

Chances continued to come at both ends in a frantic first half.

Mane headed inches wide for Liverpool before Danny Ings at the other end just failed to keep his header down from Lucas Digne’s inviting cross.

Mane header

Liverpool’s heavy schedule began to show physically when Fabinho limped off with a hamstring injury midway through the first half.

The sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in 2018 helped Liverpool fund the signings of Alisson, Van Dijk and Fabinho.

As the Reds have gone from strength-to-strength in the four-and-a-half years since, Coutinho’s career has faded and he was largely anonymous in his first appearance against his former club since returning to English football.

Only a complete miskick from Naby Keita with the goal gaping kept the scores level at the break.

However, Liverpool went through the gears in the second period to show the gulf in class between the sides.

Luis Diaz’s arrival in January has played a huge part in keeping Klopp’s men in contention for four trophies.

The Colombian created the winner as he teased Tyrone Mings before delivering a pinpoint cross for Mane to head in his 22nd goal of the season.

There were still nervy moments for Liverpool to see out in the final quarter as Villa sought to expose their high line.

Twice Ings failed to capitalise when played through on goal before being flagged offside when he did finally put the ball in the net.

But Liverpool held on and will hope Gerrard can finally come to their rescue in a title race.

Gerrard famously never won a league title during his decorated playing career at Anfield, but will take Villa to face City at the Etihad on the final day of the season.

AFP

Norwich Relegated From The Premier League

Norwich City's Norwegian midfielder Mathias Normann reacts after missing a chance during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on April 30, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
Norwich City’s Norwegian midfielder Mathias Normann reacts after missing a chance during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on April 30, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Norwich were relegated from the Premier League on Saturday after a 2-0 loss at Aston Villa.

Burnley’s dramatic late comeback from 1-0 down to beat Watford 2-1 left the Canaries 13 points adrift of safety with just four games remaining.

It was an unhappy return to Villa Park for Norwich boss Dean Smith as goals either side of half-time from two players he signed for Villa, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, earned Steven Gerrard’s men the three points.

Smith has been unable to turn around a sinking ship since replacing Daniel Farke in November.

READ ALSO: Man City Thrash Leeds To Leapfrog Liverpool Into Top Spot

“I’m disappointed for a lot of people — the owners, the supporters and everyone to do with the football club,” Smith told reporters.

“I take part of the responsibility because I’ve come in here to try to keep us up and unfortunately we haven’t done enough, but that isn’t down to the performance today (Saturday).

“Unfortunately, in a lot of the bigger games this season, we’ve not quite reached the levels that we need to,” he added.

The Canaries have gone down in each of their last three campaigns in the English top-flight, having also been relegated in 2015/16 and 2018/19.

“Ultimately, we haven’t been good enough and the quality of our squad to stay in the Premier League hasn’t been good enough, so we’ll learn from it,” said Smith.

“We have to come back stronger for the last four games and then next season.”

Norwich captain Grant Hanley told the BBC: “I’m disappointed with our result. It is probably fair, we haven’t been good enough this season.

“It is difficult for me to comment on anything right now. Emotions are high, we gave our all but it wasn’t enough and (it was) the story of our season.”

Watford’s 11th consecutive home loss also leaves the Hornets on the verge of relegation.

Everton’s 68-year stay in the top flight is now in severe peril as the Toffees are five points off safety, but do have games in hand over Burnley and Leeds to come.

AFP

Super-Sub Coutinho Caps Villa Revival To Frustrate Man Utd

Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (L) scores their second goal past Manchester United's Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 15, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
Aston Villa’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (L) scores their second goal past Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Manchester Utd at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 15, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Philippe Coutinho made a dream debut for Aston Villa as the Brazil star’s late equaliser capped a thrilling fightback from two goals down against Manchester United in Saturday’s 2-2 draw.

Four years after he last played in the Premier League with Liverpool, Coutinho made an instant impact on his return to England following his loan move from Barcelona this week.

Coutinho came off the bench midway through the second half with Villa trailing 2-0 after Bruno Fernandes’s double for United.

The 29-year-old provided the assist for Jacob Ramsey to give Villa hope with 13 minutes left.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Put Three Past Sudan To Qualify For Round Of 16

Coutinho then converted Ramsey’s cross five minutes later to ensure Steven Gerrard’s side made amends for their FA Cup third round exit at United on Monday.

Coutinho suffered a disappointing time at Barcelona, but Gerrard was confident he could bring the forward back to his best after playing with him at Liverpool.

The early returns look promising, although United will be kicking themselves for letting the game get away.

United have now gone two league matches without victory after losing to Wolves in their previous top-flight game.

With United languishing in seventh place, there will be fresh questions about interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick had already endured reports that United’s players were unimpressed with his coaching methods and his backroom staff.

This collapse will hardly ease the gloom around United, with their late meltdown taking the gloss of Fernandes’s return to form.

Fernandes owed his first goal to a howler from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who let his free-kick spill into the net.

The Portugal playmaker’s second goal was the kind of eye-catching finish that made his name when he arrived at United from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020.

But United couldn’t hold the lead in another blow to their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.

United in disarray

Cristiano Ronaldo was absent from the United squad after the Portugal star was unable to train on Friday due to the hip flexor injury that also forced him to miss Monday’s FA Cup tie.

United made the perfect start thanks to Martinez’s blunder in the sixth minute.

Fernandes’ 25-yard free-kick left Martinez red-faced as the Villa keeper got both hands on the ball, only to let it drop through his legs and trickle over the line.

Martinez may have been slightly unsighted by United striker Edinson Cavani as he stretched to make contact with the set-piece, but it was still a horrendous mistake.

The former Arsenal keeper partially redeemed himself when he charged off his line to block Mason Greenwood’s close-range effort.

Alex Telles tested Martinez’s nerves with a swerving free-kick, but this time he saved well.

David De Gea preserved United’s lead with an instinctive save from Emiliano Buendia’s thumping header.

Lucas Digne made his Villa debut after signing from Everton this week and the French left-back was denied a dream start when De Gea turned away his rasping strike.

De Gea plunged to his right to keep out Ramsey’s low drive after his exchange of passes with Morgan Sanson carved open United’s defence.

United doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Fred seized on Sanson’s wayward pass and fed Fernandes, who blasted a ferocious finish into the roof of the net from 12 yards.

But Coutinho came off the bench moments later to completely change the tone of the match.

It was Coutinho whose incisive pass found Ramsey in the United area, giving the midfielder the chance to fire past De Gea from close-range in the 77th minute.

With Villa Park rocking and United suddenly in disarray, Coutinho raised the roof five minutes later.

Ramsey returned the favour with a perfectly-weighted cross that evaded the United defence and gave Coutinho a simple tap-in at the far post.

 

AFP

Philippe Coutinho Joins Aston Villa

In this file photo taken on December 18, 2021, Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho warms up before the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Elche CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona.  Pau BARRENA / AFP

 

Philippe Coutinho is joining Aston Villa on loan for the rest of the season from Barcelona, the Premier League club announced on Friday.

“Aston Villa and FC Barcelona have agreed terms for Philippe Coutinho to spend the rest of this season on loan at Villa Park,” Villa said in a brief statement.

“The agreement, which is subject to the player completing a medical and receiving a work permit, also includes an option to buy and Philippe will travel to Birmingham in the next 48 hours.”

READ ALSO: Trippier Seals £12m Newcastle Move

Coutinho, 29, joined Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018 but has struggled for form at the Nou Camp and spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

He will link up with Villa boss Steven Gerrard, with whom he played at Liverpool.

AFP

Chelsea Fight Back To Win At Aston Villa

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match against Aston Villa at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on December 26, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Chelsea got back on track with a 3-1 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday as Manchester City opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a first half demolition of Leicester in a thrilling 6-3 win.

After one win in their previous four league games, Chelsea came from behind against a Villa team without boss Steven Gerrard due to a positive Covid test.

Hampered by injuries and Covid absences, Chelsea had surrendered top spot during a spluttering run before Christmas.

They were in trouble again when Reece James headed Matt Targett’s cross into his own net in the 28th minute.

But Jorginho equalised six minutes later, the Italian stroking home a penalty after Matt Cash tripped Callum Hudson-Odoi.

READ ALSO: Iheanacho Scores As Leicester Lose To Rampant Man City

Romelu Lukaku came off the bench at half-time and, in the 65th minute, the Belgian striker headed just his sixth Chelsea goal since his move from Inter Milan.

Lukaku won a stoppage-time penalty after his powerful run was halted by Ezri Konsa’s foul and once again Jorginho did the job from the spot.

Third-placed Chelsea are level on points with second-placed Liverpool, whose game against Leeds was one of the Covid postponements.

Villa’s next match against Leeds, scheduled for December 28, was called off on Sunday taking the total number of Premier League games postponed over the past two weeks to 14.

Three of the scheduled nine Boxing Day matches were postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks as Britain battles record numbers of cases caused by the Omicron strain of the virus.

Earlier this week, Premier League clubs rejected the option of temporarily halting the season to allow a circuit breaker for infections.

And a stop to the season may be the only way to slow City’s charge towards a fourth title in five seasons as Pep Guardiola’s men have now won nine league games in a row.

Leicester were blown away by four goals inside 25 minutes.

Kevin De Bruyne blasted home to open the floodgates before Riyad Mahrez netted against his former club from the penalty spot.

 Manchester City’s German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2021. Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Ilkay Gundogan rounded off a brilliant City team move to make it 3-0 before Raheem Sterling won and converted the champions’ second penalty.

Leicester are one of the sides to have been decimated by Covid infections and injuries in recent weeks, but they produced a stirring second-half fightback thanks to James Maddison.

The midfielder pulled a goal back before leading a break finished off by Ademola Lookman.

Kelechi Iheanacho made it 4-3 when he bundled home from close range after Ederson could only turn Maddison’s shot onto the bar.

But City quickly restored some order as Aymeric Laporte powered home from a corner and Sterling rounded off the scoring from close range.

“It was a roller coaster,” said Guardiola. “It was a typical Boxing Day game, lots of goals. It was entertaining for everyone.

“It was 4-0 and we were creating, but every time they had the ball they arrived in the final third and created chances. The game was open.”

 

Five-Star Arsenal

Arsenal consolidated their position in fourth with a routine 5-0 win at rock bottom Norwich.

Goals from Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney put the result beyond much doubt before half-time.

Saka added a second before Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty and substitute Emile Smith Rowe rounded off a fifth consecutive win for Mikel Arteta’s men.

“We looked really sharp and committed,” said Arteta. “It’s a big win for us.”

Spurs moved up to fifth, six points behind their north London rivals but with three games in hand, after easing past a depleted Crystal Palace 3-0.

Palace’s request for the game to be postponed was dismissed by the Premier League despite a coronavirus outbreak that left them without manager Patrick Vieira.

Harry Kane swept home just his third Premier League goal of the season before Lucas Moura powered in a header.

Wilfried Zaha was sent-off for two bookable offences before half-time and Son Heung-min added a third 16 minutes from time.

West Ham’s bid for the top four is falling apart fast as they were beaten 3-2 at home by Southampton.

Salah Spoils Gerrard’s Return To Liverpool

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (R) misses a chance during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 11, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (R) misses a chance during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 11, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Liverpool ensured there was no happy return to Anfield for Steven Gerrard as Mohamed Salah’s second-half penalty earned a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.

Gerrard said he would gladly sacrifice some of his legendary status among the Liverpool support for a result on his first trip to Anfield as part of the visiting team.

However, Villa barely laid a glove on the Jurgen Klopp’s men, who should have been far more convincing winners as they moved back to within a point of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Gerrard was welcomed with gentle applause as he emerged from the tunnel, but there was no great fanfare for the man who scored 186 goals in 710 games as a Liverpool player.

READ ALSO: Sterling Bags 100th Premier League Goal As Man City Beat Wolves

Even a brief chant of his name from the Kop was drowned out by cries of “Liverpool” as the crowd focused their attention on maintaining pace with City at the top of the table.

The Reds should have been well in front by half-time after dominating a frustrating 45 minutes.

Salah has now scored 21 goals in 22 games this season, but showed remarkable restraint to resist a shot at goal from Andy Robertson’s cut-back to allow Trent Alexander-Arnold to blast an effort that was headed for the top corner until it deflected off Matt Targett and behind for a corner.

Robertson was the major threat for Klopp’s men as he exploited the space he was afforded down the left.

The Scotland captain’s deflected header nearly wrong-footed Emiliano Martinez before he had two strong appeals for penalties waved away for challenges by Marvelous Nakamba, who had already been booked.

Klopp grew increasingly agitated at the officiating of referee Stuart Attwell as Liverpool failed to make their dominance show on the scoreboard.

Villa had won three of Gerrard’s first four games in charge, but could not keep the ball for long enough to amount any sort of attacking threat themselves.

A slip by Alisson Becker created the visitors’ best chance of the first half, but Ashley Young failed to turn the ball goalwards beyond the imposing figure of Joel Matip.

Martinez got down sharply to his left to deny Salah just before the break with the first of a string of fine saves by the Argentine number one.

Virgil van Dijk was next to be denied by the former Arsenal ‘keeper as Liverpool camped Villa inside their own half for the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Salah bent another effort narrowly over moments later, but he finally made the difference for the only goal of the game on 67 minutes.

Tyrone Mings was roped into a clumsy challenge on Salah and at the third time of asking, Liverpool got their spot-kick.

Martinez has earned a reputation as a penalty specialist, but Salah’s strike was too precise for the Villa stopper despite guessing the right way.

Going behind suddenly sparked Villa into life as Gerrard introduced Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia to offer more of an attacking threat.

And they too had a big appeal for a penalty turned down late on when Alisson’s attempted clearance rebounded off Matip towards his own goal and the Brazilian goalkeeper escaped unpunished from a collision with Ings.

 

AFP

Steven Gerrard Becomes Aston Villa’s New Manager

Steven Gerrard enjoined huge success as a player with Liverpool. Photo: Aston Villa.

 

Aston Villa on Thursday announced Steven Gerrard as their new manager to replace the sacked Dean Smith.

The former Liverpool captain has left his role as Rangers boss to take the reins at the club, who have lost five straight Premier League matches.

Gerrard guided Rangers to a first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years last season, finishing the campaign undefeated in the league.

“The board of Aston Villa are delighted to appoint Steven as our new head coach,” said CEO Christian Purslow.

“He then took the brave decision to test himself in the intense and high pressured environment of the Scottish Old Firm. His subsequent achievement in winning the Premiership title with Glasgow Rangers really caught our eye as did his experience in Europe.”


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‘Club With A Rich History’

In this file photo taken on October 21, 2021 Rangers’ English manager Steven Gerrard gives an interview ahead of the UEFA Europa League group A football match between Rangers and Brondby at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

Gerrard is considered one of the greatest players in Premier League history, scoring 186 goals in 710 appearances for Liverpool.

However, this will be his first taste of management in the English top-flight.

“Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new head coach,” said Gerrard.

“It was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.”

Villa are 16th in the Premier League after picking up 10 points in their first 11 games.

AFP