Villa

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Aston Villa: Spurs clinch Europa League (video)

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Aston Villa, having clinched safety with last week’s victory over Hull, had absolutely nothing to play for at White Hart Lane – and it showed. Well, kind of. With Villa’s form this season, it was rather difficult to tell if they didn’t care, or if they just couldn’t find a way to score…or defend.

It was to Tottenham’s advantage, though. Before 40 minutes were up, the hosts had a 3-0 lead, and were able to cruise through the second half, happy in the knowledge that they’d cemented sixth place and thus a Europa League spot. Or at least, they seemed happy. They didn’t try to throw away the win or anything.

source: AP
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, left, and Aston Villa’s Matthew Lowton.

Right from the start, Spurs were on top, forcing multiple saves from Brad Guzan before ten minutes were up. The first goal came in the 14th minute. Again, Guzan managed to save, this time a shot from Paulinho. But the Brazilian was quick to pick up the rebound, burying it in the back of the net.

Villa, proving that this season, they often are their own worst enemy, doubled Tottenham’s lead in the 35th minute. Danny Rose sent in a cross, with Emmanuel Adebayor getting a touch on it. But it was Villa defender Nathan Baker that got the final flick, putting Spurs up 2-0.

Things just got worse. Three minutes after Baker’s own goal, another Villa player got in the way of the ball. This time, though, it was Gabby Agbonlahor getting in the way of Sandro’s shot, with the ball hitting off the forward’s arm. Jonathan Moss wasted no time pointing to the spot, Adebayor duly converted, and Tottenham had a 3-0 lead.

About the only thing of note the visitors managed was a shot from Fabian Delph, but the midfielder put his 57th minute strike wide. It looked like Villa were determined to bury this season in the past and move on, preferably with new ownership and possibly with a new manager at the helm. Maybe that’ll be what they need to finish higher than 15th, which is where they wound up at the end of Sunday.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose; Sandro (Veljkovic 62); Sigurdsson (Pritchard 83), Paulinho (Bentaleb 75), Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane

Goals: Paulinho (14′); Baker o.g. (35′); Adebayor (38′)

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Bacuna (Robinson 83), Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Bowery (El Ahmadi 45), Agbonlahor

Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Discuss)

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Tottenham’s final game may seem tame compared with, say, Manchester City looking to clinch the Premier League title. But Aston Villa have a chance to mess things up for Spurs in their visit to White Hart Lane (Watch the game at 10am ET on USA or live online via NBC Sports Live Extra).

See, Tottenham have yet to sew up sixth place, otherwise known as England’s final Europa League spot. And while Spurs aren’t known for taking the competition all that seriously, it’s still a chance to make a little extra cash. And with the winner of next year’s tournament getting automatic entry into the Champions League, Spurs may have some incentive to keep hold of that spot.

As for Villa, they’re just happy to have stayed up. In fact, the visit to London almost seems like something that just needs to be over and done with, as the majority of supporters are simply waiting to hear about the club’s future, and whether it will be under new ownership next season.

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Despite having a great opportunity to try out new players and lose absolutely nothing, Paul Lambert has elected to make just two changes from last week’s side that beat Hull 3-1. Gabby Agbonlahor and Leandro Bacuna replace Ciaran Clark and Karim El Ahmadi, but unfortunately for those watching, Nathan Baker remains in defense.

Tim Sherwood makes two changes to the Spur team that lost 2-0 to West Ham last time out. One is enforced: Younes Kaboul’s red card means Vlad Chiriches steps into defense. The other is a bit odd – Sandro plays, despite hints he’s on his way out of the team.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose; Sandro; Sigurdsson, Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane

Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Veljkovic, Bentaleb, Capoue, Pritchard, Soldado

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Bacuna, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Bowery, Agbonlahor

Subs: Steer, Sylla, Holt, Robinson, Grealish, Grealish, Clark, El Ahmadi

Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. Hull City (Lineups and Discuss)

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For the fourth season in a row, Aston Villa find themselves in a relegation battle, absolutely needing a win at Villa Park today over visiting Hull City (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Back when Villa beat Chelsea on March 15, fans felt confident that they wouldn’t spend the final weeks of the season fearing the drop. But with just one points from the six games following, the Lions are right back in the relegation battle, sitting just three points into safety. With games against Manchester City and Tottenham to round out the season, the side knows that this game against Hull is an absolute must win.

Yet Hull, while comfortable, aren’t entirely sure of safety yet either, and could use three points as insurance in case the sides below them win out. Last week the Tigers proved that they’ve got the goods, coming back from 2-0 down to draw Fulham in the final fifteen minutes. Will they now pile pressure on early, possibly condemning Villa to a season in the Championship?

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After losing 4-1 at Swansea last week, Paul Lambert has reverted back to a conservative lineup, putting out five defenders in a flexible 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 formation. Considering Villa needs a win, rather than a point, this could really backfire on the manager. Karim El Ahmadi makes way, while Ciaran Clark joins up with Nathan Baker and Ron Vlaar at the back. Matthew Lowton replaces Leandro Bacuna on the right.

Steve Bruce decides to go against family lines, replacing Alex Bruce with Maynor Figueroa at the back. After the comeback last week, the rest of the side remains unchanged, with Shane Long and Nikica Jelavić, last week’s scorers, remaining in place up top.

LINEUPS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, Albrighton, Agbonlahor, Weimann

Subs: Steer, Bacuna, Sylla, Holt, Robinson, Bowery, El Ahmadi

Hull City: Rosenior, Figueroa, Chester, Davies, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Jelavic, Long, Elmohamady

Subs: Jakupovic, Bruce, Koren, Fryatt, Boyd, Sagbo, Quinn

Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. Southampton (Lineups and Discuss)

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After losing their last four in a row, Aston Villa are now exactly where they most didn’t want to be: back in the relegation battle. Will they manage a result against a Southampton side arriving at Villa Park with nothing to play for? (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

The Saints have lost their last two, but that matters little. They’re safe, in eighth with 48 points, but are twelve points back of the last Europa League spot. At this point, it’s simply time to experiment with next season in mind – but with Mauricio Pochettino possibly on his way out, is there even much point?

Villa must look to take advantage of Southampton’s possible complacency. After notching exactly zero points in the last month, the hosts are down in fourteenth, just four points above the relegation zone. Now, fans are making their displeasure with Paul Lambert known, and the manager knows his side must put on a convincing home display if he doesn’t want to be shown the door come the end of the season.

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After using a 5-3-2 / 3-5-2 in the loss to Crystal Palace last weekend, Paul Lambert moves to what looks to be a 4-4-2 for this match. Grant Holt, who looked rather disappointing up top last time, gives way for Andi Weimann to pair with Gabby Agbonlahor, while Marc Albrighton comes in to give some pace out wide.

The visitors make four changes to the side that lost to Cardiff last time out. Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, James Ward-Prowse and Victor Wanyama all get the nod – with Boruc’s return possibly the most significant.

LINEUPS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand, Albrighton, Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor, Weimann

Subs: Steer, Sylla, Tonev, Lowton, Clark, Holt, Robinson

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Ward-Prowse, Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Wanyama, Lallana, Lambert

Subs: Cork, Do Prado, Chambers, Gazzaniga, Hooiveld, Reed, Gallagher

Aston Villa 0-2 West Ham: Kevin Nolan brace sinks the Villa (video)

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Sam Allardyce will go to bed happy tonight, with the West Ham win over Aston Villa pulling his side out of the bottom three. The Irons are just two points into safety, but the victory is absolutely vital to the side. As for Villa, they’re back where they least wanted to be: fighting a relegation battle once more, a mere four points above the drop.

Villa should’ve been warned in the first half. In the 23rd minute, Stewart Downing missed a fantastic chance to put West Ham in front. Matt Jarvis put in the cross and the former Villa man, presented with the ball on a silver platter, somehow managed to put it through his own legs. Missing sitters like that – it seemed inevitable that the winger wouldn’t rest until he’d had his shot at redemption.

And it came shortly after the restart. Just three minutes after the start of the second half, West Ham had a 2-0 lead, thanks to a brace from Kevin Nolan. The first came in the 46th minute, when Downing got behind the defense to send in a low cross. Nolan executed a tricky little backheel, defeating Brad Guzan and giving his side the lead.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup Chelsea go top, Liverpool hammer Arsenal, big wins at the bottom)

But that wasn’t enough for Nolan. Two minutes and forty seconds later, he scored his second. The fault for this one lies on Fabian Delph who, rather than clear danger, attempted to take the ball outside of the area only to be met by Nolan. The easily stolen ball was fired into the bottom corner to put West Ham up 2-0.

With just over thirty minutes left to play, Paul Lambert made a decent attempt at jolting his side into action, introducing winger Marc Albrighton for right-back Matthew Lowton. Soon thereafter Albrighton sent in a rocket from distance, but could only connect with the far post. In what would seem almost farcical to anyone not supporting Villa, the ball then bounced out, hit West Ham keeper Adrian on the back, and bounced over the top of the goal.

And that pretty much spelled the end for the hosts. Allardyce pulled his side back and had them defending, and no matter what Villa tried (including the introduction of on-loan striker Grant Holt) they just couldn’t find a way through.

LINEUPS

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton (Albrighton 56), Clark, Baker, Bertrand (Bennett 74), Bacuna, Westwood, Delph, Weimann (Holt 71), Benteke, Agbonlahor

West Ham United: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Nolan (Nocerino 68), Noble, Taylor, Jarvis (Reid 74), C.Cole (Borriello 45), Downing

Subs: Jaaskelainen, Reid, Armero, Collison, Johnson, Borriello, Nocerino

Goals: Nolan 46′, 48′