Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United

Leave a comment

Aston Villa host Newcastle United on Saturday at Villa Park (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) as the Villans look to continue their good start to the season.

On the opening day of the campaign they beat Stoke City 1-0 away from home and after a few seasons embroiled in relegation battles at the wrong end of the table, is this the year Paul Lambert’s men finally exceed expectations?

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

Newcastle lost their opener to Manchester City 2-0, but Alan Pardew saw some moments of promise from his side. New signings Remy Cabella and Daryl Janmaat looked at ease on their PL debuts and the Magpies will be confident of picking up their first points of the new campaign away at Villa Park. Newcastle will be hoping for a top half finish again this season, while Villa are hoping for the same. With U.S. national team ‘keeper Brad Guzan securing a shutout on the opening day, the former Chivas USA goalkeeper will now become the USA’s number one after Tim Howard stepped down from the USMNT for the next year.

In team news Aston Villa could see new signing Carlos Sanchez join the squad, while Joe Cole and Jores Okore will return from injury. Newcastle could hand a debut to new signing Siem de Jong, while loan signing Facundo Ferreyra could also feature.

What they’re saying

U.S. ‘keeper Brad Guzan on Villa’s solid defense: “It was a great win at the Britannia Stadium – and we had the added bonus of the clean sheet so it was a good day for everyone at the club. There’s a good confidence in our team. Each player has a big desire to not get beat one on one – in terms of blocking shots, winning balls in the air, winning tackles and winning second balls. When you create that atmosphere and have that in a team, good things will come from it.”

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew: “We face a Villa side which has just picked up an away win and in the Premier League. That is gold-dust, so they will be feeling fairly confident to turn us over at home and we have to make sure we are a really stiff opposition. They have good players – they still carry great players, and it will be a difficult game. But Villa Park is somewhere where we have played well and we have proved we can win there.”

Prediction

Villa looked solid yet t unspectacular in their opening day win and with the likes of Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos at center back, they will be hard to break down. Newcastle forced the issue against Man City but lacked cutting edge up top. The Magpies will struggle to score this season and Villa’s pacey forward, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann, are always a threat. A narrow home win in this one.

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
Leave a comment

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.