The Premier League’s bottom side Norwich City on Monday named former Aston Villa boss Dean Smith as their new head coach, tasked with saving them from relegation.
The 50-year-old Smith, who was axed by Villa on November 7 after five successive defeats, takes over at Carrow Road on a two-and-a-half-year contract, the club said.
Smith succeeds Daniel Farke, who was sacked on November 6 with Norwich rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.
“It has been a whirlwind seven days, but I’m really pleased to be back and working for Norwich City in the Premier League,” said Smith, who will be assisted in the dug-out by assistant head coach Craig Shakespeare.
“Clearly, there has been some wonderful work that has gone into this football club over last four and a half years. It is now the job of myself and Craig to continue and improve on that work with the ultimate aim of surviving in the Premier League.
“Norwich City is a big club, with a massive hardcore of supporters who are fully understanding in what it means to be part of the club and its community.”
Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was believed to have been Norwich’s initial top candidate, but the ex-England star pulled out of the running once Smith emerged as a rival for the job.
Farke’s spell as Norwich’s boss ended on the day he led them to their first league win this season, a 2-1 success against Brentford.
The German had overseen Norwich’s promotion from the Championship last season but struggled to lift the club away from the Premier League relegation zone despite a host of new signings.
Norwich’s next Premier League game is at home to Southampton on November 20 and Smith said he could not wait to get going.
“From the age of 16, I’ve been working in football. I think in that time I’ve had four months out and didn’t enjoy it,” he said.
“It’s great to get straight back in with a club that are determined to be progressive.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s strength in depth will be crucial to their bid to win the FA Cup after they moved into the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over 10-man Norwich on Saturday.
Solskjaer’s side had to work hard for their last-four place as Harry Maguire won it late in extra time at Carrow Road.
Odion Ighalo’s opener was cancelled out by Norwich’s Todd Cantwell, but Canaries defender Timm Klose was sent off for hauling down Ighalo in the 89th minute.
United gradually wore Norwich down and England defender Maguire pounced to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions.
United, who won their 12th and most recent FA Cup in 2016, remain on course to reach the final for the second time in three years.
“I’m delighted to be in the last four. Many of these players did not play the last game and now have 90 or 120 minutes in their legs,” Solskjaer said.
“We made many changes so I didn’t make it easy for the players. The game was not the greatest spectacle but I felt we kept the ball ok.
“It is great to have the option to rotate. Anthony Martial came on and did brilliant, but Odion Ighalo gives me a chance to rotate.
“He is a proven goalscorer and played his part in both goals.”
Exactly 114 days after United won at Derby in the fifth round on March 5, the FA Cup returned following the coronavirus hiatus with the competition’s first ever match in June.
Solskjaer made eight changes as only Maguire, Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes survived from the midweek Premier League win against Sheffield United.
United’s stand-ins were out of sync for much of a first half that followed the pattern of many post-lockdown matches, both teams lacking energy and invention.
In a rare threat, Maguire had to stop Lukas Rupp’s shot with an alert block after Cantwell’s run opened up the visitors’ defence.
Solskjaer’s team finally awoke from their slumber after the interval and grabbed the lead in the 51st minute.
Luke Shaw’s cross was helped on by Juan Mata and Ighalo sniffed out the chance, flicking an agile finish past Tim Krul from inside the six-yard box.
The Nigerian has scored in each of his four United starts, making it five goals in 11 appearances since he arrived from Shanghai Shenhua in January.
Norwich were playing in their first FA Cup quarter-final since 1992, but Canaries boss Daniel Farke had dampened the mood when he insisted they had no chance of winning the competition.
Despite Farke’s pessimism, Norwich nearly equalised when Ben Godfrey stretched to reach Alexander Tettey’s header from Emiliano Buendia’s free-kick.
Norwich kept pressing and drew level in the 75th minute when Cantwell’s 20-yard strike swerved away from slow-to-react United keeper Sergio Romero.
Suddenly in the ascendency, Norwich almost won it in the final minutes when Buendia shot just past the far post.
But with extra time looming, Fernandes’ superb flick found Ighalo on the edge of the area and Klose’s panicked response, hauling down the Nigerian, triggered a red card from referee Jonathan Moss.
Krul made good saves to keep out efforts from United substitutes Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood in a frantic finale.
With five subs allowed since the lockdown and an additional one given to teams who go to extra time in the FA Cup, United become the first English side to make six changes in the same game when Anthony Martial replaced Eric Bailly.
United dominated extra time and Marcus Rashford’s strike was pushed over by Krul, who made an even better save to stop Maguire’s header.
Maguire wasn’t to be denied and in the 118th minute United’s pressure finally told as the England defender poked home from close range after Ighalo flicked on.
Chelsea needed a penalty shoot-out before finally killing off Norwich after a 1-1 draw in Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay, while Bournemouth slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Wigan.
Antonio Conte’s side finished extra-time down to nine men after late red cards for Pedro and Alvaro Morata at Stamford Bridge.
They had been forced into the extra period when Jamal Lewis’s last-gasp equaliser cancelled out Michy Batshuayi’s strike.
Chelsea’s reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero made the crucial save from Nelson Oliveira in the 5-3 shoot-out win to send the Blues through to host Newcastle in the fourth round.
It was a first win in 2018 for Chelsea, who had drawn their four previous matches in all competitions this year.
“It is the FA Cup, it is not easy to win the game. We gave everything, at the end of the game we played 9 v 11 so we showed great character,” Chelsea star Eden Hazard said.
“We are happy but also sad that we lost two players. Now we can focus on the league.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke added: “To be honest it’s a big disappointment, some of the lads are sitting with tears in their eyes in the dressing room.”
Conte had made nine changes from the 0-0 draw with Leicester on Saturday, with Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kante left out of the starting line-up.
After the kick-off was delayed for 15 minutes due to traffic congestion around the stadium, Chelsea dominated the first half and almost went ahead when Danny Drinkwater’s 25-yard drive hit the crossbar.
But they couldn’t find the breakthrough and Oliveira nearly provided it for Norwich instead when his effort hit the bar.
The Blues finally ended their three-match goal drought in the 55th minute when Belgian striker Batshuayi finished off Kenedy’s cross from close range for his first senior goal since October.
Josh Murphy hit the post as Norwich pushed for an equaliser before the out-of-form Morata came off the bench and missed a chance to wrap up the win.
That blunder from Morata came back to haunt Chelsea in the fourth minute of stoppage-time when Timm Klose whipped in a fine cross and teenage defender Lewis rose to glance his first professional goal in off the far post.
Conte was furious that the video assistant referee didn’t intervene when Willian was denied a penalty and booked for diving after a challenge from Klose caught the Brazilian in extra-time.
Chelsea were reduced to 10 men when Pedro earned a second booking for a foul on Wes Hoolahan.
And there was more controversy in the final seconds when Morata was booked for fall in the area and then protested so vehemently that referee Graham Scott sent off the forward for a second yellow card.
In the shoot-out, Oliveira’s kick was saved by Caballero, while Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kante and substitute Hazard converted for Chelsea.
At the DW Stadium, third-tier Wigan, who won the FA Cup in 2013, brushed aside under-strength Bournemouth in their third round replay.
Eddie Howe made eight changes to the team that beat Arsenal on Sunday and Bournemouth, 13th in the Premier League, looked lost with their understudies in action.
Sam Morsy put Wigan on course for the upset with the ninth-minute opener.
Dan Burn’s shot went in off the crossbar to double Wigan’s lead in the 73rd minute before Callum Elder’s header three minutes later wrapped up the victory.
Wigan next face a fourth-round tie at home to West Ham.
Wilfried Bony gave Premier League strugglers Swansea a 2-1 win over Championship leaders Wolves in their third round replay.
Jordan Ayew also scored for Swansea, who travel to fourth-tier Notts County in the next round.
Harry Kane’s 63rd minute equaliser for Premier League title contenders Tottenham Hotspurs against Liverpool rescued his team from defeat at Anfield and gave them a share of the spoils.
Elsewhere Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi helped Arsenal beat Odion Ighalo’s Watford 4-0 at the Emirates.
The 19-year-old set up Alexis Sanchez for the gunners first in the 4th minute, before adding his second EPL strike in his second start on 38 minutes. Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott scored Arsenal’s 3rd and 4th goals.
In other matches, Manchester City maintain 4th spot on the log with a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, while West Ham’s push for a top 4 finish was slowed by Crystal Palace in a 2-2 draw at the Boleyn ground.
Norwich City also edged Newcastle United 3-2 to boost their chances of avoiding relegation. Stoke City and Swansea City battled to a 2-2 draw, while Sunderland and West Brom played goalless.
Arsène Wenger says his side cannot wait for Sunday’s top-of-the-table fixture against Leicester City because it is the kind of game they relish.
Arsenal have taken 10 points from four matches against the other sides in the top five so far this season, and won 5-2 at King Power Stadium back in September.
The Foxes have lost only one Premier League match since and go into Sunday’s match five points clear at the top, but Wenger believes his side will rise to the challenge.
“What is important is to find the momentum back and that means that you win a few games,” the boss said. “After, let’s not count too much on the weakness of Leicester because they have not shown too many.
“We want to find a consistency in our results until the end of the season, because we have big game after big game now.
“What I believe is that you do not have to be a super mathematician to analyse that it is a very important game, maybe not a decisive one for the Premier League but it is not far away from that.
“The pressure is on us as well, of course. I don’t deny that but I take that in a very positive way and as an opportunity to show how strong we are.
“I think the biggest pressure in our job is to play games without pressure. This is the kind of game we want – the kind of game we relish. When you play at Arsenal Football Club, that’s what you want.
“(Leicester) are still in a position where they think they have nothing to lose. But once you are top of the league, you can also think about losing what you have.
“That is where the nerves come in a little bit. I do not know how they will respond to that.”
English Premier League leaders Leicester City’s title challenge have reached unprecedented heights as they went six points clear at the top after beating Manchester City 3-1.
It was Manchester City’s first defeat in seven Premier League games as frailties in their back-line were once again miserably exposed this time by the scintillating Foxes attack.
Robert Huth turned in Riyad Mahrez’s corner to give the Foxes an early lead.
Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero’s late consolation.
Riyad Mahrez ended a personal goal drought and was the first player this season to achieve a significant goals mark.
It was also the second time in his Barclays Premier League career that Huth has scored more than once in a match, last scoring a brace in February 2011 for Stoke against Sunderland.
Sergio Aguero’s late consolation for Man City was his first Barclays Premier League goal against Leicester and as a result the striker has scored against 26 of the 28 different opponents he has faced in the competition (Bolton and Burnley are the exceptions).
The defeat was Man City’s third at home this season as they continued their run of failing to beat any opponent in the top six in 2015/16.
Nigerian youth international, Kelechi Iheanacho, scored a last-gasp winner as Manchester City edged Crystal Palace on Saturday to maintain their 100 per cent start to the 2015/2016 premier league season.
Iheanacho’s late goal helped Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in their English Premier League match at Selhurst Park.
Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo also scored the winner for Watford in their 1-nil win over Swansea City.
Premier League Champions, Chelsea lost for the 3rd time this season with Stephen Naismith inspiring Everton to a 3-1 win at Goodison Park.
In other results, Arsenal beat Stoke City 2-0, Norwich City beat Bournemouth 3-1, West Brom and Southampton battled to a goalless draw, while Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-1 in the day’s last game.
Manchester United did well on Wednesday to preserve their lead in the Premier League, thanks to Dutchman Robin Van Persie after he scored what will be the quickest goal of the season for now (That is if another goal beats the time) as he latched home the goal against West Ham after just 32 seconds in a game that ended 1-0 in favour of the Red Devils.
Defending champion Manchester City remained a point behind its neighbour thanks to a 2-0 victory at Wigan, courtesy of goals by Mario Balotelli and James Milner, but Rafa Benitez’s tough start to life as interim Chelsea manager continued with a lacklustre 0-0 home draw against Fulham.
The point at least lifted Chelsea into third place above West Bromwich Albion, which lost 3-1 at Swansea to end a four-match winning run in the league and bring the team back down to earth after its surprise start to the season.
Tottenham climbed to fifth place by beating Liverpool 2-1, with Spurs winger Gareth Bale scoring at both ends, while Arsenal was held 1-1 at Everton after also taking the lead after less than a minute through Theo Walcott.
Stoke came from behind to beat Newcastle 2-1, a fourth straight loss for the visitors, while Mark Clattenburg — the referee at the center of recent racism accusations — made his return to the middle in Southampton’s 1-1 draw at home to Norwich.
Benitez was greeted with roars of disapproval prior to his first match in charge — a 0-0 home draw with Man City on Sunday — but fans gave him a less hostile reception three days on.
Instead, there was a general feeling of apathy that lingered throughout a listless encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea has clearly improved defensively under the pragmatic Benitez but the attacking spark that marked the bright start to its season has disappeared. Boos rang out at the final whistle, with Chelsea having created few clear-cut chances in front of watching owner Roman Abramovich.
“It’s still a long way to go. We have to keep going. We’ll have chances,” Benitez said.
The Spaniard needs a slice of luck that Van Persie was granted at Old Trafford, with the Netherlands striker’s shot looping up off James Collins and over stranded goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Michael Carrick has insisted that Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils must put behind last week’s shocking defeat at Carrow Road against Norwich City.
The 31-year-old argued that Manchester United has enjoyed a reasonably good start to the season and the Red Devils must continue in that line so as to clinch the EPL title.
The Red Devils got a shock of the season from Norwich last weekend when a second-half goal by Norwich City’s Anthony Pilkington delivered the game to the Canaries with a scoreline of 1-0 at Old Trafford and the loss to Norwich City forced Manchester United to relinquish the number one spot to Manchester City.
United host struggling QPR on Saturday and Carrick believes that, despite enjoying a good start to the season, the pressure is on to earn all three points at Old Trafford.
“We need to come back quickly and kick on. It’s been a reasonably good start so far, really. We’ve obviously had a couple of defeats but we’ve bounced back each time and now we’re in a good position, so we can be happy. But we’re not getting carried away. We have to be focused.”
The defeat to Norwich marked Carrick’s 400th league appearance but the England international had not even been aware of the milestone.
Former Chelsea manager now Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas expressed his displeasure the lacklustre display of his team Tottenham over the weekend against Norwich secure a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Spurs are yet to claim their first win of the season after an opening day loss to Newcastle and a disappointing home draw against West Brom.
New signing Moussa Dembele made the perfect start to his career as a Tottenham player when he found the net in the 68th minute but Norwich levelled with just five minutes remaining to secure a valuable away point.
It was the second time in a week that Tottenham had conceded a late equaliser with James Morrison and Robert Snodgrass denying a first competitive win for Villas-Boas. The former Chelsea manager was unhappy with the performance of the side as he felt they failed to concentrate for the full ninety minutes.
Villas-Boas will now have some time to work with the squad, due to the international break, and will hope that he can secure his first win of the season when Spurs take on newly-promoted Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday 16 September.
Villas-Boas said it was a different game as they didn’t play as well as last week.
He said the team fought hard in the second half, mainly because the first half was poor as the play look a little sloppy in passes.
He admitted that there was a little improvement in the second half for the players wanted to win and they worked hard but couldn’t earn it, so they deserve it. Villa Boas said the team has assumed responsibility for what is happening, even though it is disappointing.
“We got the goal but again, we conceded in the last minutes so we have to improve on this sharpness, this reaction, this concentration’ he concluded.