Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s dismal season finally came to a long anticipated climax after their relegation into the Championship was confirmed following defeat by Manchester United

A solitary goal in the 32nd minute by Marcus Rashford was enough to condemn the Villans to their fate for the first time since 1987.

A fine cross-field ball by Wayne Rooney released Antonio Valencia on the right hand side and the Ecuador international fired a low cross into the near post where Manchester born Rashford deftly tucked the ball under Villa ‘keeper Brad Guzan.

Another sell-out crowd at Old Trafford expected their side to push on and punish the Premiership’s poorest side but the team in red instead sat back and rarely threatened Guzan’s goal. In fact it was the visitors who almost punished United’s lack of ambition.  With five minutes remaining, substitute Rudy Gestede struck the post from an Ashley Westwood corner.

Villa fans were in fine voice right up until the end but the atmosphere turned a little sour following the final whistle when the Villa players failed to walk over to the travelling supporters, a handful only making it over the halfway line.

Despite a 28 year stay in the top flight of English football and boasting one of the few teams to never have been relegated from the modern day Premier League, just three wins in 34 matches means that one of the founding members of the English football league will playing in the second tier next season. 

Villa caretaker manager Eric Black was adamant that Villa have what it takes to bounce back next season into the league. The Scot said: “There are players in there capable of playing in the Championship. People in certain places will make sure that Villa will come back, I'm confident of that.”

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal admitted that despite winning the game, the overall performance of his team was well below standard, saying “we have three points and make some distance from Southampton and West Ham, so the three points are very important. I'm not too happy with the performance. We have to finish the games a lot earlier and today we didn't do that.”

Monday, 24 August 2015

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Chelsea match report Sunday 23rd August 2015

John Terry was sent off as Chelsea secured their first victory of the season with a nervy win over West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. 

 In the 54th minute the former England captain received the fifth red card of his career for a last-man tackle on striker Salomon Rondon. But his side managed to hold on despite a goal from James Morrison.

 The Baggies’ midfielder could have given his side the perfect start after Nemanja Matic tripped Callum McManaman but his spot kick was easily saved by Chelsea ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois.

 The miss proved to be costly as new signing Pedro linked up well with Eden Hazard to score 20 minutes into his debut with a fine finish. Ten minutes later the former Barcelona star provided Diego Costa with a tap in from a right hand side cross.

 Morrison finally made amends in the 35th minute when he latched onto a pass from Baggies new boy Rondon but just as the home fans sensed a comeback, Cesar Azpilicueta added a third Chelsea goal three minutes before half time to make the match appear all but over.

 Albion came out strongly in the second half with Rondon growing in confidence and it was the pace of the £12 million signing that led Terry to pull him back and referee Mark Clattenburg immediately produced the red card.

 West Brom seized their opportunity against the 10 men in Blue and Morrison netted his second one minute shy of the hour mark to set up a thrilling final half an hour. Jose Mourinho sent on Gary Cahill and John Obi Mikel to see out the result and the tactic worked as Chelsea hung on for their first win of the season. 

After the game, Baggies boss Tony Pulis was asked why he chose to leave out striker Saido Berahino, the club’s regular penalty taker and target of two bids by Tottenham? He once again emphasised his call for the current transfer window situation to be changed to protect players.

“The transfer window should close and the season should start and everybody should be talking about football and not other things,” said Pulis.

“I spoke to Saido yesterday and it is unsettling. He is a young lad.”

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was happy with his side’s first win of the campaign but claimed football fans across the country would not be.

"Many people in this moment are disappointed in this result. People love Chelsea to lose a game,” he said. “There is a feeling we are fighting against a lot but today we won."

Thursday, 28 May 2015

FA Cup Final preview Aston Villa v Arsenal

Two days before Aston Villa's trip to Wembley to face FA Cup holders Arsenal, I checked out the mood in the Bodymoor Heath training camp with manager Tim Sherwood.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Aston Villa 0 - 1 Burnley. Match report May 24th 2015

A goal by wantaway striker Danny Ings provided relegated Burnley with the perfect parting gift and left Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood with a pre-Cup Final headache.
The 22-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer and looks set to leave the club, headed home from 12 yards out to ensure that the Clarets’ would go back down to the Championship full of pride.

Villa’s second successive defeat was not what boss Sherwood nor the 40,000 home fans wanted a week before the Villans take on Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
“We didn’t show enough imagination today. The boys tried hard enough. We were just lacking a bit of quality,” said a disappointed Sherwood.
Villa started the game positively with the huge crowd singing loudly about their forthcoming trip to Wembley but the buoyant atmosphere changed in the fifth minute when Ashley Barnes headed the ball into the Villa box and Ings was on hand to plant a pinpoint header into the top left corner of the net.
The goal shocked the home team and silenced the fans and as a result the Villa players struggled to find any momentum. The best chance of the first half fell to Ron Vlaar but the big centre back smashed the ball past the left hand post.
Ashley Westwood had two good chances, the first after some good work on the left hand side by Charles N’Zogbia who fed the ball back to the edge of the area but Westwood fired over from 18 yards. Minutes later, the midfielder had a scissor kick attempt tipped over the crossbar by Burnley ‘keeper Tom Heaton.
The second half was poor fayre with Villa dominating the ball but they couldn’t convert possession into chances due to a very well organised and stubborn Burnley defence. The visitors should have doubled their lead following a determined run from Ings which saw him slip the ball in behind the Villa defence for the advancing George Boyd but his close range shot was smothered by stand in ‘keeper Jed Steer.
Christian Benteke and Charles N’Zogbia went close late in the game but Burnley held on to grab a final three points before they drop to the Championship for next season.
After the match, Burnley boss Sean Dyche reflected on a ‘frustrating’ season in which his team had kept 10 clean sheets but failed to convert important goal-scoring opportunities.
“It’s about margins and although we have done well over the season we have not taken the key moments,” he said. “It is frustrating but overall I am very proud of the players and everyone at the club.”
The final table saw Villa finish 17th, three points clear of relegation and boss Tim Sherwood said he was eager to change what he described as a ‘losing mentality' at the club.
“It [the table] tells no lies. Wherever you finish in the league is where you deserve to finish,” he said. “Our mentality needs to change. This club is used to losing which is not good.”
When asked if he would have to lift the players for next weekend’s FA Cup Final after suffering two defeats, Sherwood added: “If we need to lift anyone for an FA Cup final we have serious problems. I don’t anticipate any problems...”

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Chelsea match report Monday 18th May 2015

Cesc Fabregas saw red in a bizarre sending off as his Chelsea team collapsed to a humiliating defeat by a resurgent West Bromwich Albion.
In perhaps one of the most comedic dismissals of the season, Fabregas booted the ball onto the head of Albion player Chris Brunt from 20 yards away leaving referee Mike Jones with no choice but to send the Spanish World Cup winner off. The bizarre incident happened after a tussle between Gareth McCauley and Diego Costa became heated but just as things looked to have calmed down, Fabregas struck the ball into the crowd of players and Brunt was the unfortunate one to be hit on the back of the head.

After the match, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho voiced his confusion as to why the red card was awarded. “I would like to see it again as what is this for a sending off. Where is the danger of the situation? Where is the aggresivity?” he said.
The 3- 0 result was Chelsea’s heaviest defeat since March 2012 and Mourinho was honest about his teams’s performance, saying: “the ideal scenario is to be champions and don’t play again. I don’t blame the players. To blame the players is to blame myself as I’m no different from them.”

The match was played at an incredibly high tempo, considering that Chelsea were already champions and the Baggies safe from relegation.
West Brom took the lead  on nine minutes. A rare burst out of defence for Joleon Lescott saw him play the ball to the left where Chris Brunt laid it inside to Saido Berahino who hit a looping, curling effort over a helpless Thibaut Courtious from 20 yards to net his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.

Fabregas was sent off with half an hour on the clock and the momentum shifted rapidly into the favour of West Brom. Despite seeing most of the ball, the Blues’ couldn’t break down their opponents' 10-man defence.
Barely two minutes into the second half, the home team doubled their advantage from the spot. John Terry wiping out Berahino in the penalty area and the 21 year old coolly stepped up to convert from 12 yards.
The misery of Chelsea was completed on the stroke of an hour with Chris Brunt going from provider for Berahino in the first half to scorer in the second. He played a one-two from the right hand corner flag with substitute Craig Gardner. The northern Irishman then took the ball into the right hand corner of the penalty area before smashing it inside the near post with his left foot, an effort that the Belgian Courtious could do nothing to stop.

In one of the shortest pre-match press conferences of the season, Baggies’ boss Tony Pulis said: “I'm really pleased, it was a great performance and a great result.” The Welshman was also quick to congratulate Chelsea saying: “I don’t think anything should be taken away from the team that we played. They have been by far the best team in the Premier League this year.”

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Aston Villa 1 - 0 West Ham United match report Saturday 9th May 2015

Tom Cleverly all but ensured that Aston Villa will be playing Premier League football next season after his finish was enough to see off a blunt West Ham United.

The man on loan from Manchester United poked in from three yards to give his team the three points that theoretically means they will avoid relegation.

His manager Tim Sherwood was full of praise for the 25 year old, saying, “He still shows a lot of energy and determination and leaves nothing on the field. I'd loved to have played with him because I know when he gets the ball he creates chances.”

Cleverly failed to hit the net in 37 matches before scoring three goals in his previous three games. Sherwood added: “I said to him you don’t score goals unless you get in the box. He just needed to add goals to his game.”

With Cleverly becoming a free agent in the summer, Sherwood was asked about his interest in signing him. “We’d like to keep him. I said to him if you don’t sign he’s not playing in the final,” he joked.

It was a must win game for the Villans. With fellow strugglers Sunderland winning earlier in the day it was vital Sherwood's men didn’t get sucked further into the relegation rat race and they set out with a point to prove. With 12 minutes on the clock, Cleverly had the game’s first meaningful effort when his shot from the edge of the area was easily saved by Hammers' goalkeeper Adrian.

The FA Cup finalists got the lead they deserved on half an hour. Man of the match Jack Grealish jinked his way to the byline on the left hand side before squeezing the ball into the box where Cleverly poked home.

The Hammers' felt aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty in the 38th minute. A corner from the left was whipped in and Leandro Bacuna heaved down Enner Valenica but referee Lee Mason adjudged that West Ham captain Kevin Nolan had fouled Villa ‘keeper Shay Given.

At half time West Ham boss Sam Allardyce threw on Alex Song and Nene to try and earn something from the game. They enjoyed more possession in the second half but could only muster an offside goal as their best effort. Villa valiantly held out and gave themselves breathing space above the relegation zone with two matches to go.

After the game Allardyce lamented his team's lack of goals. "Our cutting edge has been missing for weeks now. It doesn't matter how many chances we create, we are not scoring them," he said.