Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League

Aston Villa 0-0 Newcastle: Guzan saves a point as Villa moves top (video)

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Okay, okay, top of the league because no one else has played two matches… but Aston Villa lead the Premier League after surviving a scoreless home opener against Newcastle United.

The visitors showed plenty of danger, and missed several fairly simple chances to score. American goalkeeper Brad Guzan made plenty of solid saves for the Villans in what was often a sleepy affair as the hosts shut up shop until a late Newcastle red card.

[MORE: Full match replay]

Jack Colback and Remy Cabella were the stars for Newcastle, which couldn’t find the recipe for a goal from its strikers.

[ RELATED: Stoke City seeks European loan for Brek Shea ]

The Magpies tried a bit of a short corner move in the 5th minute, but Brad Guzan snared Vurnon Anita’s deflected shot.

The 16th minute found Aston Villa with a dangerous free kick following a tactical challenge from a beaten Colback, and former Newcastle player Charles N’Zogbia bent his left-footed shot just wide of diving Tim Krul… and the net.

Both Newcastle and Aston Villa fans cheered for the duration of the 18th minute in honor of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, Newcastle supporters who died on the Malaysian Airlines disaster in Ukraine.

Newcastle earned a free kick from about 25 yards out, stood over by Geordie boy Colback. He blasted the attempt wildly over the bar. Later, Cabella slid a through ball a hair too long for Emmanuel Riviere. That extra quarter stride cost Riviere some power, and Guzan went to ground to make the save.

Cabella was felled by a backhand of N’Zogbia in the 42nd minute after a giveaway, but nothing came of the foul.

The Magpies did well out of the break, as Daryl Janmaat nearly headed a past Guzan, earning the club a corner. Janmaat lashed a left-footed 18-yarder just wide of the bar in the 56th minute as well.

Newcastle continued to control the chances, with Mike Williamson laughably missing a solid chance. But corner after corner began to come for the Magpies, who still failed to finish.

Paul Lambert looked to flip the script in Aston Villa’s favor with the introduction of new signing Carlos Sanchez in the 63rd minute. And Sanchez’s first ball was a gorgeous feed that was played out for a corner kick.

Alan Pardew tried a similar trick by inserting big-money transfer Siem de Jong in the 70th minute.

De Jong nearly found a goal in the 88th minute as Newcastle continued to control play. Cabella put a neat pass through the de Jong, but Guzan made a strong reactive save.

There was an amusing span in the 90th minute as Villa fans would not return the match ball for a corner kick, and then tossed the ball in Colback’s path as he prepared to take the corner with a new ball.

Mike Williamson took a second yellow as four minutes of stoppage time began for hip-checking a rushing Fabian Delph.

Lineups

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Senderos, Vlaar, Cissokho (Baker, 85′) Westwood, Delph, Richardson (Bent, 76′), Weimann, N’Zogbia (Sanchez 63′), Agbonlahor

Newcastle United: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Anita (de Jong 70′), Colback; Gouffran, Sissoko, Cabella; Riviere (Perez, 77′; S. Taylor, 90+2′)

Exasperated Klopp: “We were not physical enough” vs Leicester

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Liverpool players make their way back to the half way line after they let in their first goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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A desperate Leicester City battered Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Monday, leaving Reds boss Jurgen Klopp to question how his side lost to another relegation candidate.

That’s four teams in the Bottom Seven to beat the Reds this season, and the fifth is 11th place Burnley.

[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]

Klopp said he could explain the loss in German, but the challenge of doing it in English was proving difficult.

“The language issues always come a little bit more when you have to explain defeats and it’s really difficult to find the right words. It was not an over aggressive game from Leicester. Even for this level we were not physical enough today.”

Liverpool did look soft without midfielder Jordan Henderson, and did have multiple midfielders in the back line with Lucas Leiva at center back and James Milner on the right.

But moreover, the players failed to follow some of Klopp’s guidelines. For example, Christian Fuchs was able to launch several of his big throws into the 18. One helped Leicester to a goal.

“We gave throw-ins away like we never spoke about it. It does not make much sense to give away 20 throw-ins to Fuchs from that position.”

It wasn’t good enough, and it’s baffling to see Liverpool this season. A club that took four of six points from Chelsea has lost to a quartet of relegation battlers. This isn’t good.

Liverpool continues to wilt against lesser lights

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Plenty will be said about Leicester City’s performance in Monday’s 3-1 defeat of Liverpool at King Power Stadium, but the visitors’ problems are screaming at a similar volume.

The Reds play a bit like a team expecting it to be easier, which is baffling given its struggles in 2017. When the calendar turned, Liverpool had just toppled Manchester City 1-0.

[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]

It’s been a horror story this new year. The Reds needed a replay to beat Plymouth in the FA Cup en route to being bounced by Wolverhampton in the fourth round. They lost 2-0 to Southampton in the EFL Cup semifinal. And as for league form? Woof.

Liverpool in the Premier League, 2017
Jan. 2 – at Sunderland, D 2-2
Jan. 15 – at Man Utd, D 1-1
Jan. 21 – vs. Swansea City, L 2-3
Jan. 28 – vs. Chelsea, D 1-1
Feb. 4 – at Hull City, L 0-2
Feb. 11 – vs Spurs, W 2-0
Feb. 27 – at Leicester, L 0-2

In total, that’s two wins and four draws in 12 matches. The Reds have allowed two or more goals on five occasions, and four times they’ve been held off the score sheet.

The answers weren’t there. They haven’t been for most of the year. Nathaniel Clyne‘s bright work on the right rarely found a willing receiver, as Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum failed to make much of an impact. Yes, Jordan Henderson was missing but that shouldn’t sink a side into the abyss.

The Reds were late to the party, though at least they bothered to show up unlike the 2-0 loss at Hull three weeks ago. Liverpool has lost at Hull, Bournemouth, Burnley, and Leicester this season, with an additional home loss to Swansea City.

Those are 15 points surrendered to the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 19th place teams, plus recently promoted Burnley (11th). For good measure, the Reds drew 2-2 at 20th place Sunderland. That leaves Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough as the lone members of the Bottom Seven to not take a point from Liverpool.

The Reds have been the team version of Moussa Sissoko, well up for the big boys but yawning at the task of playing lesser lights (Granted Monday’s match was under the bright lights). How else do you explain a team with the record above also boasting an unbeaten mark against the Top Seven (5W-4D)?

Liverpool needs a change in attitude. And don’t be fooled if they beat Arsenal this weekend or Man City in two weeks. See if they show up at home to Burnley on March 12.

Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool: Champions Awakened

Leicester players celebrate after Leicester's Daniel Drinkwater scored during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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  • First match since Ranieri firing
  • Vardy nabs brace
  • Coutinho ruins clean sheet

Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater helped the King Power Stadium to a taste of the Leicester of old, as the Foxes opened the post-Claudio Ranieri era with a 3-1 defeat of Liverpool on Monday.

Philippe Coutinho scored the lone goal for the visitors.

Leicester climbs back out of the drop zone and into 15th with 24 points. Liverpool remains fifth place with 49 points.

The two goals were Vardy’s first time on a Premier League scoresheet since netting a hat trick in a 4-2 win over Man City on Dec. 10.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Robert Huth flicked a long Christian Fuchs throw towards the frame, and Simon Mignolet leapt to corral the goal-bound ball.

Another big Fuchs throw led to a corner when Mignolet denied Shinji Okazaki‘s flying header.

Vardy then forced Mignolet into a close-range save when the Leicester striker bodied Lucas Leiva and beat Joel Matip to attempt a shot.

Vardy found his mark with a long ball from a field player. Marc Albrighton spied an opening from his own half and played Vardy on goal, with the English striker beating Mignolet to the near post.

The danger wasn’t over. Vardy lost his dribble and backheeled to Wilfried Ndidi for a shot that Mignolet stopped in the six.

Drinkwater made it 2-0 with a volley from outside the 18 that sent King Power Stadium into bedlam. Commentator Arlo White noted that the press area was shaking following the celebration.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool looked gun shy well into the second half, with Philippe Coutinho giving the hint of urgency on a 55th minute rip corralled by Schmeichel.

The Reds then allowed Riyad Mahrez and Christian Fuchs to work the left side before the latter crossed in front of Emre Can, where Vardy flew to power a header home.

Coutinho made it 3-1 on a layoff from Can to give Liverpool a bit of life and the Brazilian his first Premier League goal since Nov. 6.

The Reds didn’t quit, though they found it hard to invade the Foxes’ 18. Leicester wasn’t much help in the matter, doggedly staying with their marks and spaces as the match edged toward stoppage time.

WATCH: Drinkwater rocket doubles Leicester City lead

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Leicester City’s first half of Premier League play without Claudio Ranieri has gone very, very well.

Marc Albrighton set up Jamie Vardy for an early goal before Danny Drinkwater scored a beauty of his own, and the Foxes have a 2-0 lead over Liverpool at King Power Stadium.

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The Foxes got a roar and a standing ovation from the KP at the break, as the champs look prepared to make their stay in the drop zone a brief one.