Premier League: Game of the Weekend: Aston Villa 2-3 Tottenham

A five goal thriller took place at Villa Park as Tottenham won a rare away game to beat Aston Villa 3-2 for three crucial points.

It was a meeting of the minds, old and new with Aston Villa assistant John Terry reconnecting with Jose Mourinho his former manager and mentor at Chelsea all those years ago. And this was a game.

Villa started with a very daring formation of 3-4-3 with the possibility of putting one player up front back into midfield. And Tottenham went for 4-2-3-1. The away team trying to crowd out midfield and then have Heung-Min Son up front on his own.

The early exchanges would be something that Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld would not forget in a hurry. He latched onto a ball and ended up scoring an own goal after just 9 minutes to give Villa the lead. It looked like Tottenham could have been heading for their 6th away defeat of the season at that point.

But on the 27th minute Tottenham equalised and it was ironic that it would be Alderweireld who would get the goal. Only his 6th goal for the club and his 25th goal in all competitions throughout his career. With the game at 1-1 Tottenham found a new belief, they were back in the game now. Towards half time there was a penalty call as it appeared that Villa’s Bjorn Engels had handled the ball but the referee was happy not to give it. It finally went to VAR and there was a long delay, which was unfortunate- is this what football is really all about now? But VAR came back and did give the penalty. Suddenly Tottenham had the chance to go into the first half in the lead.

Heung-Min Son took the penalty but his effort was saved by Pepe Reina however the ball rebounded and the South Korean made no mistake in stabbing at home and Tottenham were leading 2-1.

It had been a fantastic and frantic first half of football that had seen 38 attempts on goal, with 10 on target for Tottenham and 4 on target for Villa. And nobody could wait until the second half got underway.

In some ways this was a game of redemption; Alderweireld had scored an own goal and then scored a goal to get his side back in the game and now Bjorn Engels was on hand to do just the same. After conceding the penalty in the first half, Jack Grealish set up Engels who equalised inside 10 minutes of the re start and we had a game on.

Whilst Villa should be given credit for wanting the win and not wanting to settle for the draw, Tottenham were on top in the 2nd half producing 7 shots on target to Villa’s eventual 2. This game looked like it would end 2-2 though, which would have been a big point for the home side but would have dented Tottenham’s top 4 aspirations. But this game wasn’t over.

Villa had held out until the 94th minute with the whistle about to blow there was a clear panic in defence and the ball fell to Son who made no mistakes and scored a glorious winner that sent the team, the away fans and Mourinho ecstatic. It was huge and the win put Tottenham just one point behind Chelsea for 4th. It was also Son’s 9th goal of the season in the league.

Whilst there was jubilation in the Tottenham camp there was frustration of what could have been in the Villa one and relegation remains a big threat for the club who are in 17th and are just one point from safety.

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Premier League Predictions: Week 26

The winter break is still here but we do  have staggered games, and that means we will see 6 games at the weekend. The likes of Liverpool, Leicester, Tottenham and Arsenal will all be in action. Let’s take a look at the games and the players who could stand out.

Wolves v Leicester

Here are two teams very equal and two teams that have surprised many fans this season. We think this early kick off will end in a point apiece for the teams. It will be interesting if Wolves’ Diogo Jota can get a run out as he scored a hat trick against Leicester last season. Draw

Southampton v Burnley

The Saints have had a slight knock back losing 2 of their last 3 games and Burnley are unbeaten in their last 3 games. We will take the draw here in a game that we expect to have plenty of chances for both sides but also be physical. Draw

Norwich v Liverpool

It would be the biggest shock of the season if Norwich were to become the first team to beat Liverpool this season. Norwich are bottom of the league and have lost 15 games, they are also 7 points from safety. Liverpool really should have no problems to win this game and should ease to victory. Although we should remember that Norwich did beat Manchester City here earlier in the season. Liverpool to beat Norwich

Aston Villa v Tottenham

Aston Villa are just 1 point above the bottom three and have one win in their last four games. The club have won 40% of their home games which isn’t good enough in this league. Tottenham have had a little rest also, but Jose Mourinho is in a good mood and the players look more settled under him. Watch out for Steven Bergwijn can he create magic like he did a few weeks ago? Tottenham to beat Aston Villa

Arsenal v Newcastle

Mikel Arteta has just 1 win in his 7 league games, but also has only lost one, the club just keep on drawing games. So do Newcastle who have 3 in their last four games. If Newcastle can use Joelinton to his full capacity he could be a handle and he likes playing in London. Draw

Chelsea v Manchester United

The big game. With Chelsea in 4th they could really slip up for their Champions League hopes if they don’t get a win. United have already won here in the Carabao Cup earlier in the season. This could be and should be an epic game. United are in 8th and if they lose this game they would slip 9 points behind a Champions League place. N’Golo Kante can run things in midfield and we are going to back the home side over an injury depleted United one who have only won 3 games away from home. Chelsea to beat Manchester United

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Premier League Fantasy Weekend Picks: Matchday 26

Because of the winter break in the Premier League games are being staggered but there are more this weekend then last and we get six games. Let’s take a look below at our player fantasy picks based on form and the fixtures to see if your players will be earning points this weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno- Arsenal

This has not been a great season for Bernd Leno keeping just 5 clean sheets so far. But Mikel Arteta has finally had time to spend with the club and there seems to be a plan to do better. Plus Arsenal will be at home to Newcastle and start as the favourites.

Defender: Toby Alderweireld- Tottenham

Tottenham rode their luck in beating Manchester City this month but nobody is talking of how good the defenders were. The club play Aston Villa who are in trouble and perhaps they have the quality to win this game and keep a clean sheet. Alderweireld has 4 clean sheets so far.

Defender: Davinson Sanchez- Tottenham

Sticking with Tottenham Davinson Sanchez was impressive against champions Manchester City in keeping a clean sheet, so why not repeat that against lowly Aston Villa? Plus Tottenham have been able to keep 2 clean sheets from their last 3 matches.

Defender: Ryan Bertrand- Southampton

Southampton will be the favourites to beat Burnley at the weekend and they are at home. He has helped keep 3 clean sheets so far that includes two in the last five games.

Defender: Willy Boly- Wolves

Willy Boly has been involved in 4 clean sheets this season. Wolves take on Leicester which will be a difficult game but at the same time they are at home. Boly would cost 6.5m and has earned 18 points so far.

Midfielder: Granit Xhaka- Arsenal

Is this the game for Arsenal playing at home to Newcastle that changes their season around, or will it be more of the same and end in a draw or defeat? Granit Xhaka has found himself back in the team and he has kept 5 clean sheets, the one worry is that he hasn’t scored yet, but that could be set to change at the weekend.

Midfielder: Tanguy Ndombele- Tottenham

Jose Mourinho has called on Ndombele to bring out a performance and the talented midfielder may just be able to do that when the club take on relegation threatened Aston Villa at the weekend, he is certainly worth a pick and can win games.

Midfielder: Steven Bergwijn- Tottenham

Steven Bergwijn had a dream debut for Tottenham in his last game scoring a fantastic goal against Manchester City. Now Tottenham will play Aston Villa and the Dutchman is sure to have a few opportunities on goal and trying to provide some. He would cost 8.5m.

Midfielder: Jordan Henderson- Liverpool

Henderson is being tipped to receive the Premier League player of the season and for good reason. He has 41 points and would only cost 7m which seems like a bargain, he is involved in everything going forward and has scored 3 goals and assisted in a further 4.

Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- Arsenal

Arsenal’s star striker, without Aubameyang Arsenal aren’t going to win games. The Gunners have a tough match at the weekend but they are at home and they need to beat Newcastle. One would think they would need at least 2 goals and it would be a real surprise not to see this man on the score sheet, and he has 14 goals this season.

Striker: Raul Jimenez- Wolves

Raul Jimenez just remains a dangerous striker and he could be the difference when Wolves take on Leicester. His cost is only 5.5m and that is great when you think he has 54 points so far and has scored 11 goals, he is well worth inclusion if you don’t already have him.

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero would have won a lot of player of the week’s so here is his umpteenth one and this one was arguably the most deserving.

Aguero who has been one of the very best strikers to have graced the game in England collected 16 points in the week as his side Manchester City made light work of Aston Villa and won the game at Villa Park 6-1.

The Argentinian has made the news headlines because his 3 goals were so significant. Firstly he broke Alan Shearer’s record of the most Premier League hat tricks, which had stood at 11, now Aguero has 12. Then and more importantly he scored his 175th, 176th and 177th league goals for City. That took Aguero up to joint 4th in the all time top goalscorers in Premier League history.

In doing so Aguero passed Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and became the most successful foreign striker in Premier League history. With 177 goals he now has the same as Chelsea legend Frank Lampard. Just one more goal will put Aguero into 3rd place which is simply inevitable.

As a side note one wonders just how far Aguero could go on the all time table? In 3rd place is Andrew Cole who has 187 goals, and that could well  be a target for Aguero to break this season, he has a very good chance needing 11 more goals to do it. Could Aguero go even further though? He is 31 and there was talk at the beginning of the season that he could leave Manchester City at the end of this one.

If he was to stay, with the mentality of the club needing to have younger, fitter strikers, even if Aguero stayed fit one would suspect that he would have at best 2 good seasons in England left in him. On average if he scored 45 goals in those seasons and another 10 in this he could well reach 55 goals. This is all hearsay of course but around that figure would take Aguero to around 230 goals. Easy that would be good enough to be the 2nd best striker. But Alan Shearer’s record look like it is going nowhere as he scored 260 goals. It is worth noting that Aguero’s strike rate is far superior to Shearer’s.

So it has been a fantastic week for Aguero and a record breaking one too. In the fantasy rankings he is in 2nd place with 60 pts and has scored 13 goals and assisted in a further 3. He has no yellow cards so far this season and he would cost you to include him in your team 14m. That’s a lot of budget, but you would be getting one of the very best potent strikers in Europe for the last decade.

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Premier League Game of the Weekend: Aston Villa 1-6 Manchester City

Two teams at two different halves of the league with two different objectives played on Sunday afternoon. For Aston Villa they were always going to be the underdog, but they knew they needed to fight for points. The emergence of Watford who looked to be taking up one place for relegation this season means that Villa have become a relegation contender. They fight it.

For Manchester City, the league looks over but they won’t give it up. The champions are 14 points behind Liverpool with this win and the Reds have a game in hand. It could be 17 by the end of the month. City’s true objective in the league was never to be in 3rd place, a position they courted for a few weeks as Leicester showed flashes of the team that won them the league title in 2016. Another objective in winning this game then, was to go 2nd and leapfrog Leicester who had already lost to Southampton the day before.

City met their objective as Villa’s one collapsed in on itself like a black hole. And it is a black hole where most of the Villa team would have wished for when they were on the receiving end of a vintage Manchester City performance.

When City attack this good, not many teams can match them.  A 6-1 victory is a massive score line and one that you feel manager Pep Guardiola needed (lest we forget the team in bottom place, Norwich City, who actually beat Guardiola’s team earlier this season) and these kind of games before a whistle is blown can be potential banana skins. But the only players slipping on them were Villa’s back four who were opened up time and again from the devastating attacks born from defence, made in the midfield and executed so well by a forward line, stand up Sergio Aguero.

It was Aguero who scored his 175th, 176th and 177th goals on Sunday. It was Aguero who passed Thierry Henry’s decade long record of scoring the most goals in the Premier League for a foreign player, and it was Aguero who scored his 12th hat trick, a record in the league surpassing Alan Shearer’s 11.

Aguero earned a whopping 16 pts in the Euro Fantasy League rankings too. He has 60 pts in total and is the current 2nd best potent striker in the rankings. From 12 starts Aguero has scored 13 goals and assisted in another three.

Rightly so Aguero should be championed but let’s not forget Riyad Mahrez who also had a spectacular game scoring two goals himself and at one point both him and Aguero were on 2 goals a piece and we were just wondering who of the two was going to complete a hat trick? Mahrez may have lost out on that battle, but it didn’t matter one bit. Mahrez is now ranked 5th in the fantasy rankings for Premier League strikers with 52 points. He has scored 7 goals and assisted in another 7 and that is an impressive stat.

Talking of stats City had a stunning 22 goal attempts, with 12 on target against Villa, just more than 50% of shots were hitting their target and 50% of goals flew in as a result. Gabriel Jesus’ 9th goal of the season was largely forgotten then giving the exploits of Aguero’s record and Mahrez’s goals.

This was a statement win for City and they would have loved to have kept a clean sheet too but Villa were awarded a last minute penalty, to give what fans remained crumbs from the richness of a six banquet meal.

What this means for the league may seem like little. Guardiola will hope that if Liverpool cannot lose games this season they will start drawing them and dropping points. It would mean that City would have to do what they did last season and go on a truly unique run which saw them win every game in the new year. The league title seems unlikely but at least City are interested in giving a challenge, and, that is the least one could ask for.

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The Premier League relegation battle is taking shape and Norwich City look doomed

Norwich City look like they will be playing next season in the Championship as they were slaughtered 4-0 against Manchester United in a match that was largely one way traffic from the first whistle.

The Canaries latest defeat which is their 14th of the season from 22 games leaves the club rock bottom with 14 points. Later today 19th plays 18th as Bournemouth take on Watford in what should be a fascinating match but Norwich look doomed whatever the outcome. Currently the club are 7 points from safety, that’s basically a month’s worth of football and it would take an almighty set of games to put things right.

Of course Norwich could look to Watford for some inspiration. The Hornets have climbed from the bottom of the league, themselves being six points adrift. They are 19th but have gone 4 games unbeaten and could climb out of the bottom three with a win today. The difference though is that to get here Watford had to sack their manager-indeed in Nigel Pearson they are on their 3rd manager this season alone.

Appointing Daniel Farke as manager was always going to be risky for Norwich, in part because he had no top flight managerial experience. Although he was appointed in 2017 and helped the club gain promotion to the Premier League, in that sense perhaps Farke’s ambitions lie away from the Premier League. In it Norwich have huffed and puffed this season, they stunned the champions Manchester City beating them 3-2 and have in general played some good football against the top teams. But motivation has been a problem against bottom half clubs and teams around them, and it does look like Norwich will be going straight back down again.

As for the rest, it is quite an open book. One would think that Watford will simply surge forward. They have been outstanding under Pearson, and even if they do face a set back there is a clear objective and belief in the club to do well. This puts pressure on Bournemouth, Aston Villa, West Ham, Burnley and Brighton who look like the likeliest to struggle. Two of those teams look like going down at this time, and all have faced misery in recent years regarding relegation.

Aston Villa after Norwich are the next favourites to go down according to the bookmakers. But perhaps one should keep an eye out for West Ham. They are being quoted at 3/1. The Hammers have some very difficult games coming up, including quite a few away games, They will have to face the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea in close succession.

There are still 16 games to play and anything can happen, but for almost certain we know that one of the teams going down this season is Norwich. The question remains will the club react and sack Farke, or will they take a gamble on him?

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Man Utd were unconvincing once again as they drop points to Aston Villa at Old Trafford

With Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City all dropping points in their respective games, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a big chance to towards the top four positions if they could beat Aston Villa, a side who have been struggling for form and are just outside of the relegation zone.

Looking at the end-to-end match as a whole, the hosts were in control of the possession but did not create many chances or complete enough shots on target as the visitors were able to defend with composure and prove to be dangerous on the counter. The Villains shockingly took the lead in the 11th minute of the game, as Jack Grealish picked up the ball in the final third of the pitch and cut through from the right to the middle before firing a shot straight into the far corner of the net.

The Red Devils did not show enough urgency and failed to provide composure on and off the ball, making it look like Villa would be more likely of doubling their lead than seeing an equaliser coming through at all. However, with just a couple of minutes away from the half-time break, Andreas Pereira was met by the head of Marcus Rashford, which got a touch off the post and Tom Heaton before going into the net. Both sides were tied at 1-1 as the first half came to a fortunate end.

After the break, United were on the front foot, utilising the ball at a higher tempo and were finding the attackers in the right areas of the pitch, but the opposition’s goalkeeper did not have much problems and nor did the backline when it came to dealing with any potential threat through the middle or the flanks. But once again, the cutting edge was missing when it was needed the most.

Though, there was an interesting turnaround just after the hour mark at Old Trafford, as Grealish had a great chance to score his second goal of the day and give Villa the lead once again, but he scuffed his shot wide off the target. A few moments later, United won a set-piece, which somehow got to Victor Lindelof at the far side of the post, who kindly headed the ball into the opposite direction and into the corner of the net, giving United the lead for the first time in the whole game.

Unfortunately, normal service was resumed for Solskjaer’s men, as they went on to conceding a goal straight after Lindelof’s goal, as Matt Targett’s perfectly-timed ball over the top was followed by a first-time finish from Tyrone Mings, who managed to get his first goal in the Premier League. In terms of the marking and the defending, United could have done much better than what they actually did, as the full team attempted to rush out from the penalty box to keep the Villa players offside, but because of the lack of communication, Brandon Williams get the opposition onside.

After the two goals for each side, not much was happening as United did not have the much needed creativity and quality whilst Aston Villa did more than enough to hold onto the well-deserved point. In the end, with the points being shared out, Manchester United now sit in ninth-place as Dean Smith’s Aston Villa find themselves in fifteen-place, just a few points above the relegation zone.

Here are the three valuable factors we learnt from United’s latest league fixture…

United’s current issues in midfield cannot get any worse

Just by having a look at the midfield options, majority of the Manchester United supporters do not feel confident or positive when they see their team play, no matter who it is against, whether it’s one of the best teams in the league or it’s a mid-table side. Even without Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, who are currently on the sidelines, the midfield department are still not able to dominate either Aston Villa or Sheffield United, who do not have the greatest of midfields.

Even when looking at the two mentioned team, who were promoted to the top-flight half a year ago, they have the likes of Jack Grealish, John Lundstram and John McGinn, who would easily get into United’s midfield, which sums up the lack of quality and options they have at this moment of time. Given that the players can easily be injured or be suspended, the board and Ed Woodward will have to invest in the January window for a midfielder, or a lot of rising problems could occur.

The football at Old Trafford is no longer exciting or mind-blowing

Football supporters see the beauty of the sport in different ways, most see it as just winning at all costs whilst the rest would like the football played in an exciting style of play whilst being successful. At this moment of time, Manchester United are unable to do either, a team that have had their dark and gloomy days under the likes of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, are still finding it difficult to see a certain style of play being placed and a range of tactics that are quite effective.

So far this season, the Red Devils have only won three out of the seven league games that have been played at Old Trafford, which is not good enough for a team that wants to finish in the top four positions. If United are looking to change their ways and make amends before it is too late, they will need to play with freedom and a more positive mind in the games at homes, in order for them to start winning the league matches on a regular basis and for them to turn Old Trafford into a fortress.

Solskjaer does not have the intelligence and in-game management to succeed

Since making that memorable comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League back in March, that arguably made him the permanent manager of the club, the rollercoaster of a ride for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not gone the way he would have imagined as he is now seen as the next Premier League manager that could get sacked. A lot of things have not gone well for United on and off the pitch, which could leave Ed Woodward with no option but to sack the 46-year-old Norwegian.

United have only won four out of the 14 league games they have played so far this season, and despite the current lack of quality and depth, Solskjaer’s limited intelligence and lack of in-game management has been the decisive factors to the side’s poor run of results. But the board and Ed Woodward himself should have known what they were getting, from someone who has only managed Cardiff City and Molde, with his time at both clubs not ending in the ideal of ways.

The problems at the club lie deeper than the manager and the players, but there is no doubt that the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will happen once the people in charge see the value of the club is decreasing and the possibility of Champions League football is definitely ruled out. Although it hasn’t worked out for Ole as well as for the previous managers, it will surely not work out for even the best managers within Europe, as the lack of planning and required ambition from the owners and Ed Woodward is what is preventing Manchester United football club from moving forward as a whole.

More Premier League action coming up? Check out our match previews here!

Round seven of the English Premier League season takes place this weekend.

Here’s a look at all the upcoming fixtures this weekend.

Sheffield United v Liverpool

Key men: John Egan (Sheffield United); Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Prediction: Sheffield United 0 – 2 Liverpool Continue reading

Predicted lineups for gameweek 3 of the Premier League

It’s time for gameweek 3 of the Premier League season.

Here’s a look at all the predicted lineups for the ten fixtures over the coming weekend.

Aston Villa v Everton

Aston Villa XI: Heaton, Elmohamady, Engels, Mings, Targett, Jota, McGinn, Luiz, Grealish, Trezeguet, Wesley

Everton XI: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gbamin, Gomes, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Kean

Questionable: Digne, Baines (Everton)

Out: Chester, Hause, Kodjia (Aston Villa); Delph (Everton) Continue reading

EPL Player of the Week – Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)

deulofeuThe date was October 18, 1986 and Watford – managed by legendary boss Graham Taylor – beat visiting Aston Villa 4-2 at Vicarage Road. Little did anyone know at the time, but that match would go on to live long in the history of Watford Football Club. For in that game, Hornets striker Mark Falco netted a hattrick. He also scored against Villa the following year, before an unbelievably barren run saw Watford fail to even score against Villa again until late 2015 when they would win 3-2 at Villa Park – some 28 years later. The match in question however, until very recently indeed, held another record – it was the last time a Watford player had scored a hattrick in the top flight.

Continue reading