Why can’t the Premier League’s golden boy Jack Grealish get a game for England?

Jack Grealish has started the 2020/21 season in sensational form with the Aston Villa star scoring three goals and assisting as many in his club’s first three games. The attacking midfielder put pen to paper on a new deal that included vastly improved terms in the form of a huge pay rise. The decision to reward Grealish with a new and lucrative contract is paying immediate dividends for Villa as any talk of relegation all but over after just 270 minutes of football this season.

For now, that is in stark contrast to the 2019/20 campaign where they fought for their Premier League survival until the very final whistle of the season, eventually finishing above Bournemouth who dropped down instead. Relegation would have been as Villa CEO Christian Purslow described it ‘a £200m catastrophe.’ Sadly for the Cherries, they suffered the financial disaster instead and despite the latest championship betting indicating that they will go straight back up at odds of just 11/10, they have already paid a huge price by losing their best players.

Indeed, with Nathan Ake leaving to join Manchester City and Callum Wilson departing to Newcastle, the perils of losing your star players are obvious for all to see when the setback of relegation hits. Luckily for Villa, they were able to avoid that fate and subsequently were able to keep hold of Jack Grealish, arguably England’s most talented attacking midfielder. Still, not everyone shares that sentiment.

Unfortunately for Grealish, the England manager seems to fall into the unconvinced category. Despite the calls for the Villa captain’s inclusion growing louder, Southgate has steadfastly stuck to his decision by mostly using him as an unused substitute on the England bench. Instead, Southgate has chosen to use Mason Mount as a roaming number 10 for the Three Lions, much to the ire of the Villa fans.

In some ways, you can understand their frustration as Mount has only registered a single goal and assist for Chelsea this season in his five appearances, and is some distance off the form that Grealish is exhibiting. But then again, Mount is the man of the moment for England having netted the winner against Belgium in a crucial UEFA Nations League game whilst Grealish looked on from the bench.

Some may argue that it is just a case of Grealish having to be patient, but there is a sense that as long as Southgate is England manager, the Villa captain will be used somewhat sparingly for England.

Given how loud the noise is around Jack Grealish’s omission from the national side, you can also envision a scenario where this becomes Southgate’s Waterloo and ultimately costs him his job.

Whatever way you look at it, Grealish’s pulsating Premier League form doesn’t look like letting up and that will only heap the pressure onto Southgate. Indeed, the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City have probably seen enough already this season to be in a position where they would happily match whatever astronomical release clause has been inserted into his new contract.

The boy’s a star and could be the one to bring Southgate’s world crashing down around him.

Premier League Game of the Week: Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

When final scores used to come through on television years before the internet and phones and apps, this was our only source of knowing the results and quick. When big scores came through that fact had to be reminded by spelling out the actual score. If a game was 6-0 next to the 6 would be spelt out SIX just so you knew. Doubly great if you supported the team, rubbing salt into wounds if you didn’t. This past weekend that would have been used again, only this time with a sentence of exclamation marks.

To be sure and just to remind us that we are indeed on planet Earth, Aston Villa beat Liverpool 7-2, SEVEN goals past the reigning champions, seven goals past the team who have reached the Champions League final twice in the last 3 years and won one of them, seven goals past the reigning World Club Cup holders, seven goals past a team who had gone up until the end of February last season without defeat. It was an astounding result, in an incredible game of which wrapped around it is an incredible season so far.

Liverpool were the odds on favourites to beat Aston Villa and make it four wins out of four. The script Gods had it that Liverpool would ease to victory, that the two rival Merseyside teams would be 1st and 2nd in the league, both unbeaten and would play each other next on October 17th for what would have been billed as the most important Everton-Liverpool derby in a generation. Whilst that match still remains of high interest a shine was taken off who would lose their 100% record when Villa put Liverpool to the sword at the weekend.

Had Villa beaten Liverpool in a struggling all out defending 1-0 game, that would have been seen as a surprise, after all Villa just escaped relegation last season and Liverpool finished 60 plus points in front of them. But this was an all out slaughter which to be fair was over by half time.

New signing Ollie Watkins from Brentford emerged as the hero as did Villa veteran Jack Grealish so ever criticised as being good but not as good as he thinks he is, well at the weekend both were Lionel Messi level good.

Watkins scored a hat trick in 39 minutes all in the first half and opened up the scoring for the hosts in the 4th minute. By the 22nd minute it was 2-0. In fact in 17 first half minutes Villa had put 3 goals past what should have been an impregnable Liverpool defence. Whilst it’s true that Liverpool were dearly unlucky to have lost first choice goal keeper Allison in the warm up for the game, one could well argue his absence may wouldn’t have made much difference even if Liverpool may have kept the score down with him. Adrian, his replacement was absolutely at fault for the 1st goal but he shouldn’t be made the scapegoat Liverpool all round were just very very poor.

Grealish had already provided two goals in the first half and in the 2nd half he would become goalscorer as he netted twice and even new signing Ross Barkley a former Evertonian of course scored. For Liverpool the ever dangerous Mohamed Salah tried his best and personally one couldn’t fault him here, he actually scored 2 goals himself, but these will certainly be two goals that Salah would rather forget in a hurry.

It was interesting to note that possession wise Liverpool dominated and yet conceded so many goals. What does this all mean? Was it simply a one off blip much like their 3-0 defeat at Watford last season? Was it because a couple of regulars were missing, especially captain Jordan Henderson? Was it simply a little complacency and fatigue?

As for Villa they have started the season in brilliant form and have 3 wins from three and have kept intact their own 100% start to the season even after their Liverpool test.

This season just feels unique and very much unlike any other, Villa may slump as the weeks and months take hold, but they have already looked like a team who won’t be involved in a relegation dog fight for that manager Dean Smith must be commended for his summer buys. For Klopp the international break has arrived and he will have 10 days to try and understand what just happened.

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Premier League Best 11 Players of the Week: Matchday 4

Is this the Premier League or Play station? Who knows anymore what we do know is that if you have an attacking line up in your fantasy team you would have earned many points. Whilst these are sad times for goalkeepers and defenders it is impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of how many goals are being scored.

It was another weekend that saw over 40 goals scored and plenty of shocks. The champions Liverpool have already lost their first game of the season. That feels like a surprise as it was against Aston Villa. What will be a shock is the result, as they lost 7-2. 2. A quite stunning result.

Tottenham are a good side but did anyone really expect them to beat Manchester United away from home by 6-1? And Everton who have not won the league since 1987 are now 3 points clear at the top. What an incredible start to the season, now let’s see which players made the final 11 cut.

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski- West Ham 7pts

For the second week in a row Fabianski is the goal keeper of the weekend. He was assured and superb in goal as he kept another clean sheet as West Ham stunned the then league leaders Leicester by winning 3-0.

Defender: Aaron Cresswell- West Ham 9pts

A superb game by Aaron Cresswell saw him as part of a defence that kept a clean sheet. But the player also assisted in not one but two goals and had a perfect weekend. He is valued at 7m and has 12 pts overall.

Defender: Ben Chilwell- Chelsea 11pts

Chelsea spent £50m on Ben Chilwell in the summer and he is already paying dividends. He was part of a defence that kept a clean sheet as Frank Lampard’s side hammered Crystal Palace 4-0. And to put the icing on the cake he scored the opening goal and assisted in another.

Defender: Kurt Zouma- Chelsea 9pts

Kurt Zouma was overdue a good game for the Blues and he kept a clean sheet as they beat Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace side 4-0. Zouma also scored the Blues second goal in a rampant display at Stamford Bridge. Can Zouma make this season count?

Defender: Tyrone Mings- Aston Villa 7pts

Tyrone Mings had a strong game as Aston Villa stunned Liverpool 7-2. Mings now has 14 pts already and is a real bargain to add to your team and is only 4.5m.

Midfielder: Jack Grealish- Aston Villa 20pts

Maybe this was Jack Grealish’s greatest game in football so far. He assisted in 2 goals and then scored 2 goals as Aston Villa pulled off one of the greatest shocks and great performances in Premier League history as they destroyed champions Liverpool 7-2 at Villa Park. A stunning result, Grealish now has 22 pts overall and is valued at 3.5m.

Midfielder: James Rodriguez- Everton 10pts

James Rodriguez looks like incredible business for Everton and the Colombian scored another 2 goals at the weekend as Everton beat Brighton 4-2. James now has 18 points overall and has been involved in 5 goals so far his value to add to your team is 9.5m.

Midfielder: Jorginho- Chelsea 10pts

Jorginho scored 2 goals- both penalties as Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners against Crystal Palace. It was the midfielder’s best game for the club in some time and this could make him step up this season to become the player everyone knows he can be, he played very well and covered the pitch with maturity.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 8pts

Even though his team Liverpool were destroyed in one of the stunning results in the modern era Salah still managed to score 2 goals. He will quickly forget about them of course in a nightmare day for the Reds but personally Salah keeps scoring goals and that will bode well for the season ahead.

Striker: Heung-Min Son- Tottenham 10pts

Two more goals for Heung-Min Son as they smashed Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford and he also assisted. Son now has 6 goals this season equal to Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Son is having up until now the best season of his career.

Striker: Harry Kane- Tottenham 10pts

Together with Son, Harry Kane is part of one of the deadliest if not most deadliest strike partnerships in the Premier League. Kane scored another two goals and assisted in Son’s first. It has been an incredible start for the English international who can be snapped up for 14.5m.

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Premier League Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

Heung-min Son scored four as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Southampton 5-2 and Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a hat-trick as Everton beat 10 man West Bromwich Albion by the same score.

Clean sheets were hard to come by in the Premier League last weekend, with only Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea and Aston Villa keeping one.

Here’s a look at the players who made a real difference in the fantasy football last weekend:

Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa) – 7pts
Aston Villa’s new signing introduced himself to the fans by saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on his debut. Emi Martinez was one of only three goalkeepers to keep a clean sheet on matchday 2.

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Aston Villa try to fend off Man Utd’s interest in Grealish

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United all season, with the record champions of England expected to make an offer this summer.

The 24-year-old has been with the West Midlands club since he was six years old and played both an influential role in their promotion back to the Premier League in 2019 and then scored the goal against West Ham United that kept Aston Villa’s top flight status on the final day of the season last month.

Their 1-1 draw away to West Ham United meant Bournemouth were relegated by one point, whilst Villa had collected eight points from their final four games to pull off a great escape.

Grealish has the talent to boss games in the middle of the park and also be a goalscoring threat when deployed down the left wing, as Dean Smith did on several occasions this past season.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would likely see the leader as a central midfielder to partner up with Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes next season, should they be successful in making a move for him this summer.

Grealish scored eight goals on top of his six assists in 36 Premier League appearances this past season, whilst also winning the most free kicks in the division, breaking up the opposition’s possession and adding an energy to Dean Smith’s midfield that proved to be just enough to keep his side up.

There’s no doubt playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world and in next season’s Champions League would be a great attraction for the midfielder.

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West Ham have one foot in safety from relegation after a win over Chelsea and draw against Newcastle

For a while there West Ham looked destined to be relegated. There was no shape, discipline or attacking method. Everyone was looking at David Moyes as if to say ‘what now’?

Strange then how just 2 games can change the perspective. The first was against Chelsea where the Hammers were the obvious underdogs and yet not only did they beat the Blues they also put 3 goals past them in a fantastic 3-2 victory.

This match was followed up by a trip to Newcastle, a team under Steve Bruce who were still unbeaten since the restart of the league. The game finished 2-2, the battle was there for all to see. True the Londoners had taken the lead twice and been pegged back as many times but a point away to Newcastle is always a good point.

Those two matches stopped the rot and that was the most important thing for the club who suddenly had a self belief. Led by the inform Michail Antonio his goals have really counted. One could also suggest that Chelsea did the Hammers a favour, it was simply the right fixture at the right time, as West Ham always up their game when they are playing their London rivals.

Relegation can still happen but it feels much more distant now. The club have pulled 4 points clear from both Aston Villa and Bournemouth, only a few weeks ago the only thing saving West Ham from the drop was goal difference.

West Ham now have 31 points and this week they will play Burnley at home. They will be the favourites to win that and if they do they would have taken a huge step for survival this season.

The Hammers remaining games after that is an away trip to Norwich. It’s very possible that by the time they play the Canaries they will have been relegated. This could make the game easier for Moyes’ team. They will then be at home to Watford another game which many would fancy them to win.

Their last two games are against Manchester United away from home and then Aston Villa. It seems like the only tricky tie left for the Hammers will be their trip to Old Trafford as it is very possible that United will be needing a win to qualify for a top 4 spot and thus playing in the Champions League next season.

Even the Hammers final game which is against Aston Villa could be a dead rubber anyway, as the way Villa are playing they are looking like they could be down by then.

West Ham are making a superb recovery just at the right time, and for now all Hammers fans can breathe a sigh of relief.

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Fallen giants in England’s Premier League and in Germany

For many fans of clubs which have fallen on hard times, it’s hard to imagine the level of frustration and even sensations of desperation. Their once-mighty teams used to be all-conquering sides, revered and feared throughout Europe, yet now they face relegation.

For fans of Aston Villa and Werder Bremen right now, especially those old enough to remember the glory days of their clubs, facing the real prospect of descending from the Premier League and Bundesliga must be a bitter pill to swallow.

Angst at Aston Villa

Recent years have hardly been kind for Aston Villa fans, following a team which has been a shadow of their potential. They were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2015/16 season, then it took the club three difficult years to make their return. Supporters were positive, yet the 2019/20 campaign has been tough to endure.

After finishing fifth in the Championship last season and winning the promotion play-offs, Aston Villa were back where many feel the club truly belongs. However, despite finishing as runners-up in the League Cup final this season, their performances in the Premier League have been a constant struggle during the 2019/20 campaign.

Indeed, the latest EPL relegation odds from Betfair would indicate that Villa are tipped to go down, unless they can somehow muster a miracle turnaround in form. That First Division title in 1981 and the magnificent European Cup win of 1982, followed by League Cup triumphs and genuine title challenges in the 1990s all must seem distant memories for the older supporters.

Woes at Werder Bremen

It’s hard to say what exactly has gone so utterly wrong at Werder Bremen this season, although it’s abundantly clear the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign has been an unmitigated disaster. It’s also one that could end with this once-mighty side being relegated. As of today, Bremen’s status in Germany’s top league remains uncertain because the club finished in 16th place which means Werder must participate in the relegation play-off. The club’s loyal fans are hoping Bremen can pull it off and remain in the Bundesliga to salvage what has been a disastrous season by all standards for this prestigious club.

Given they have endured such a poor season, without any indications of turning the corner, looking at the Bundesliga betting tips from Betfair’s experts, the majority conclusion is that Werder Bremen are destined for relegation. That’s hard to imagine, especially as we’re talking about a club that’s still considered as one of the biggest in German football.

We’re talking about a club that regularly challenged for silverware. A club that won the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal double as recently as the 2003-04 season. A club that featured regularly in the Champions League and Europa League. However, they have struggled for almost a decade now and relegation this year would be the culmination of a lengthy slide.

Hopes for the Future?

Despite being their first season back in the Premier League, it could be argued that Aston Villa weren’t quite ready to return and consolidate their position among the English elite. More than a decade of disorganization and a lack of investment have taken their toll. Maybe a year back in the Championship would help Villa reorganize, ready for a more serious return.

As for Werder Bremen, their fans must be wondering if their situation can get any worse. The last time they experienced life outside the top tier in Germany was way back in the 1980-81 season. However, that actually served to spark a revolution at the club, which then became a golden era of domestic titles and European adventures.

There’s no doubt that both Aston Villa and Werder Bremen are clubs with tremendously passionate fans. These are clubs with magnificent supporters who stand by their team regardless of what happens on the pitch. They demand commitment and dedication from the players but at the same time will give support in return. Hopefully, both sets of fans will get to savor the glory days again and before too long.

Premier League relegation: Who will go down in 2019/20?

With the Premier League back that means all things can now be tied up including the title itself, European places and of course relegation. There was some brief talk of declaring the season null and void, which would have avoided all of this and something that the relegation threatened teams may have welcomed. However with football here to stay the excitement and nervousness will draw in. Let’s take a look at the teams who are and could be heading for relegation:

Norwich are of course bottom of the league and have 21 points. They are 6 points from safety but it only takes one of those teams to push on to put the Canaries in grave danger. They do have 24 points to play for but they would probably have to win 18 of those points to have any chance of staying up. Losing 3-0 at home to Southampton in their last game has not helped their cause.

The club will play Everton tonight which will be a tough game and that will be followed by an away match at Arsenal. There are also games against Chelsea and Manchester City in the mix and we would conclude that Norwich will be going down this season.

Norwich predicted total points: 26

Aston Villa have just come up this season but Dean Smith’s side have struggled at times and could be going straight back down. That isn’t to say that the club haven’t shown some quality but they certainly have looked out of their depth sometimes and simply have not been able to find enough consistency.

Villa have lost 18 games this season including 4 of their last 5 matches and have yet to win since the restart, drawing against Sheffield United and losing against Chelsea.

However the club do have 26 points and are just one point from safety, a run of 2-3 wins could make all the difference. But where are they going to get those points? Villa’s next 3 fixtures are against Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United. They also have to play tough games against Arsenal and Everton and in the last day of the season they will play West Ham it what could well end up being a finale clash to see who goes down between them. But there is no doubting that Villa have a very hard run in.

Aston Villa predicted total points: 31

Bournemouth are currently in 18th place and holding that final position to go down. But the good news for the club is that safety is just goal difference away as they have 27 points the same as West Ham.

The bad news is some of the games still left for them which includes playing both Manchester teams, Everton, Tottenham and Leicester, with teams going for European spots that looks like being a very tough run in.

Bournemouth total predicted points: 33

Maybe it’s because West Ham moved into their new stadium- the Olympic stadium, maybe it’s because they made the bizarre decision to reappoint David Moyes as manager. But anyhow many eyes are on the London club, who really should be in a better position than they are and fighting for mid table not relegation. But the club look badly run, and if they do go down it feels like quite a lot of football followers would find that hilarious.

The Hammers currently would be safe as they are in 17th place. The problem is that is only on goal difference. There is also only one club above them that they could catch as gaps are starting to appear. They have lost their first two games since the restart against Wolves and Tottenham.

The club do seem to have an easier run in than the other relegation threatened teams but will still have to face Chelsea and Manchester United who are competing for European places so those games won’t be easy.

West Ham total predicted points: 38

Watford are in 16th but are right there in the mix and perhaps the last of the teams who could be threatened with relegation. Since the restart they have played just one game which they drew against Leicester, that match ending 1-1.

Currently they have 28 points so could easily get sucked into a battle. They have some tough fixtures having to play Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. Though a couple of those games are towards the end of the season where if matters have been settled those clubs may not play their strongest sides.

Watford total predicted points: 34

Let’s take a glance at the predicted final table at the bottom of the league based on our predictions above.

16th: West Ham 38

17th: Watford     34

18th: Bournemouth 33

19th: Aston Villa  31

20th: Norwich      26

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Premier League return: Manchester City need to make a statement whilst Arsenal have not given up on Europe

The Premier League will return on June 17th with two fixtures and both look like being mouth watering matches despite the fact that games are having to be played behind closed doors.

Aston Villa will take on Sheffield United in what will be the first Premier League game to take place in 99 days since the Coronavirus pandemic halted football. The evening game sees current champions Manchester City play Arsenal at the Etihad.

Aston Villa are in desperate need of all three points when their campaign restarts given that they are in 19th place, although a win would take them out of the relegation zone. Sheffield United are having a terrific season so far and could go into 5th place with a win. Both teams have a game in hand over the teams around them and that is why this is such an important game for them.

All eyes though will be in Manchester. How will Pep Guardiola’s team react after such a long break? If we look at the Bundesliga in Germany and for example compare City to current German champions Bayern Munich then they should be just fine. Bayern have been in incredible form not only winning games but scoring by the bucket load.

However with no fans it has also been proven in Germany that the home win rate has nosedived. From 46% to just 18%. Whilst City will be raring to go and have the better players they will also find it rather odd to be playing this way.

Arsenal are currently in 9th place and a visit to the Etihad would in normal circumstances have been a daunting trip. Now a team who have really felt the pressure from their own fans may just be able to throw off the shackles and possibly play better and more confident football behind closed doors.

The game will have added spice given that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is returning back to City, of course he was Guardiola’s assistant for a few years before making the switch to Arsenal earlier in the season.

The omens do not look good for Arsenal who have lost five games in a row to City, who also find the back of the net rather too easily. Arsenal’s play usually suits City’s attacking although it will be fascinating to see if Arteta who knows City so well can out do Guardiola.

If Arsenal win then all eyes will be on Liverpool who could then wrap up the league title on Sunday. That would be unique in itself given that they are playing the derby against Everton.

As for Arsenal they have had a poor season by their standards so far and are in 9th place, though they were showing good form before the season had to be stopped. There has certainly been an improvement since Arteta replaced Unai Emery.

For City whilst they do have a game in hand over 3rd placed Leicester- this is the match and they are just 4 points in front of Brendan Rodgers team and would like to pull away from them. This season there is no catching Liverpool but at the end of the day if City were to finish 3rd for example it would really underline a forgettable season for the club.

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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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