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.

 

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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.

Ex-Liverpool Striker Milan Baros Set To Retire At 38

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 08, 2012 Czech forward Milan Baros controls the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships match Russia vs. Czech Republic at the Municipal stadium in Wroclaw. - Ex-Liverpool striker Milan Baros ends career at 38. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 08, 2012 Czech forward Milan Baros controls the ball during the Euro 2012 football championships match Russia vs. Czech Republic at the Municipal stadium in Wroclaw. – Ex-Liverpool striker Milan Baros ends career at 38. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP)

 

 

Former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Czech Republic striker Milan Baros said Friday he would call time on his playing career at the end of the season.

“My head would like to go on, but the body has said stop,” the 38-year-old Baros said on Banik Ostrava’s club website.

“I’ve had health issues for a long time and the body doesn’t simply work the way it used to and the way I need,” he added, complaining about his Achilles tendons.

Baros, who also played for Portsmouth, Lyon and Galatasaray, rose to prominence at Euro 2004, a tournament which he finished as the top scorer.

Baros won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 and ended his international career after Euro 2012, having scored 41 goals in 93 games for the Czech Republic.

 

 

-AFP

Liverpool’s Title March Delayed By Everton Stalemate, Chelsea Sink Villa

 

Liverpool’s march towards the Premier League title was delayed as the leaders returned to action with a goalless draw against Merseyside rivals Everton, while Chelsea fought back for a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side picked up following the top-flight resumption on Wednesday needing two wins to secure their first English title for 30 years.

But Liverpool looked rusty in their first game in 106 days following the coronavirus lockdown.

Despite their underwhelming display behind closed doors at Goodison Park, Liverpool are now 23 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City.

If City drop points at home to Burnley on Monday, then Liverpool can clinch the title against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday.

A City victory would delay Liverpool’s coronation until at least their clash with Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad Stadium on July 2.

Liverpool have won just two of their last seven games in all competitions.

“It was a real fight. Both teams showed they understood it was a derby,” Klopp said.

“Most of the time we were dominant but they had the biggest chance. We were not smart enough to use the space.

“That is normal when you start to play again. Football looks slightly different (since the coronavirus) but I take that.”

Reds star Mohamed Salah was left on the bench due to fitness concerns, while Andrew Robertson was also sidelined and they were not at their best as a result.

Liverpool improved after the break and Naby Keita fired just wide before Virgil van Dijk’s header was saved by Jordan Pickford.

But it was Everton who came closest to a winner on the break when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s effort was saved by Alisson Becker and Tom Davies fired the rebound against the post.

Frank Lampard believes Christian Pulisic can be Chelsea’s trump card in the race to qualify for the Champions League after his decisive cameo at Villa Park.

Lampard’s side were rocked when Kortney Hause put Villa ahead against the run of play in the first half.

But Pulisic came off the bench to equalise after the break before Olivier Giroud bagged his fourth club goal of the season two minutes later.

Chelsea’s quick-fire blitz moved the fourth-placed west Londoners five points clear of Manchester United in fifth as they fight to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Welcome boost

A first away league win of 2020 was the ideal way for Chelsea to return to action in their first match since the Premier League was suspended in March due to the coronavirus.

It was Pulisic’s first appearance since January after an abductor muscle injury and Lampard feels the United States winger is ready to make an impact again.

“He will start games for us, of course, and I think he’s going to be a big player for us, not just in this run-in but going forward,” Lampard said.

“The ability he’s got to arrive in the box, it’s a big thing, I’ve spoken about it with him all season.”

Steve Bruce hopes Joelinton is finally ready to deliver after the Brazilian ended a Premier League goal drought stretching back to August in Newcastle’s 3-0 win over 10-man Sheffield United.

Joelinton’s close-range finish in the 78th minute completed the scoring after goals from Allan Saint-Maximin and Matt Ritchie.

It was a welcome boost for Joelinton, who has struggled since his move from Hoffenheim last year and missed a glorious opportunity in the first half at St James’ Park.

Joelinton was also at the centre of the game’s significant moment when he raced away from John Egan in the second half and was hauled back, triggering a red card for the Blades defender that sparked the visitors’ collapse.

“He personally has suffered in the lockdown more than anybody. He’s had no family here, no friends, holed up in an apartment somewhere,” Bruce said.

“He’s a really genuinely good lad and he gives his all for the team. We’re just delighted that he’s managed to score a goal. He can only get better.”

Wilder Fumes After Goalline Technology Mistake Denies Blades

Aston Villa’s English midfielder Jack Grealish (L), Sheffield United’s English manager Chris Wilder (2nd L) and Sheffield United’s English-born Northern Irish midfielder Oliver Norwood (3rd L) tap hands after the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. CARL RECINE / POOL / AFP

 

 

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder admitted he didn’t know whether to “laugh or cry” after a goalline technology blunder forced his side to settle for a damaging 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

The Hawk-Eye system failed to award a goal when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland clearly carried Oliver Norwood’s first-half free-kick over the line.

Referee Michael Oliver and his officials were unable to intervene and VAR offered no help, leaving Wilder fuming over a decision that dented his team’s bid to qualify for the Champions League.

It was a controversial way for the Premier League to return in the first game since the top-flight was halted in March due to the coronavirus.

Hawk-Eye Innovations, which run the technology, issued a statement apologising for the error, claiming the fact Nyland, Villa team-mate Keinan Davis and the post were in the way meant no camera saw the ball cross the line.

But Wilder insisted it was clear the ball was over and said VAR should have come to the rescue.

“It was in the Holte End, the goalkeeper was in the Holte End and eight rows back. Everyone knew it, saw it and felt it,” he said.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Already the jokes have started. It’s all going to come out but we’re pretty disappointed and we’ve got to get on with it.

“I believe a decision should have been made from Stockley Park (the VAR centre). For someone to tell me with seven cameras and this is the first time it’s happened in over 9,000 games it’s a difficult one to take.

“We’ve got Chris Kavanagh (fourth official), one of the best referees in the Premier League and Michael Oliver possibly one of the best referees in Europe and if you ask them they’ll be scratching their heads over how this situation occurred.

“We believe it should have been referred (to VAR).”

A statement from the Professional Game Match Officials Board explained why VAR did not intervene when the technology failed.

“Under the IFAB protocol, the VAR is able to check goal situations, however, due to the fact that the on-field match officials did not receive a signal, and the unique nature of that, the VAR did not intervene,” they said.

That was no consolation for Wilder, whose team are now sixth, four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea when the gap could have been closer.

It was a narrow escape for second bottom Villa and boss Dean Smith admitted they had been lucky to avoid defeat.

“We got away with one, certainly, with the technology not working. But I’ve been in the other position where technology has not been good for us at times,” Smith said.

“There’s always going to be some error, we have human error from officials and we have to accept that.

“There’s going to be errors in technology as we’ve seen with VAR this season and now for the first time ever with Hawk-Eye. We just have to accept it and move on, there’s nothing else we can do.

“We’re the ones who go away disappointed even with that controversy. The fact that we are just shows that the performance was good. We need to maintain that level.”

The return of top-flight football in England also gave players a platform to back the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd.

Just before kick-off at Villa Park Oliver blew his whistle and all 22 players and the officials went down on one knee for around 10 seconds.

Both teams were also wearing shirts with players names replaced by the Black Lives Matter slogan, a gesture that will be replicated across the Premier League for the first 12 games.

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