Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United: Welbeck double kick-starts United’s season – Video

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BIRMINGHAM — Manchester United put on a attacking masterclass to beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park on Sunday, as David Moyes’ offense finally sprung into life.

Danny Welbeck struck twice from close range in three first half minutes as United raced clear, then Tom Cleverley struck just after the interval to seal a deserved win for the visitors who dominated throughout.

Villa were poor, especially at the back, and were often their own worst enemy as only long-range efforts from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton really troubled David De Gea on a comfortable outing for United’s defense.

With the impressive win, United move up to eighth on 25 points while Villa drop to 11th on 19 points.

Early on both Karim El Ahmadi and Albrighton stung the palms of De Gea from distance as the Villans started brightly in front of a packed home crowd.

Early on United struggled to get going in the final third and despite dominating possession in the middle third they weren’t really going anywhere with it. As for Villa, Agbonlahor looked sharp up front and his runs down the flanks caused the Red Devils plenty of problems early on.

Despite all of Villa’s early dominance, it was the away side who went ahead as Welbeck pounced to finish from close range after Adnan Januzaj’s header from Rafael’s superb cross had rebounded off the post in the 15th minute. That opening goal prompted ironic chants of “We are staying up” from United’s fans in reference to their teams recent struggles. But just three minutes later they were celebrating again, as Welbeck grabbed his and United’s second with another finish from close range following Antonio Valencia’s delicious right-wing cross.

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Welbeck prods in the opening goal as United dazzled in the drizzle at Villa Park.

The atmosphere went flat at Villa Park after United’s quick-fire double and the lively attacking-trio of Januzaj, Welbeck and Valencia were causing all kinds of problems for Villa’s young defense.

United should have been 3-0 up inside the first half hour as first Valencia decided to square a ball instead of shooting from inside the six-yard box and then Wayne Rooney scuffed a shot wide when unmarked on the edge of the box. The relentless attacking machine of United kept churning out chances as Welbeck was played cleaned through but dragged his effort wide of Brad Guzan’s right-hand post as United led 2-0 at the break.

After the interval the game sparked into life when Agbonlahor should-barged De Gea to win Villa a corner, then in the box some handbags ensued as both players were booked for shall we say, ‘making their feelings known.’ The home fans tried to spur their side into life but in the 52nd minute United went 3-0 up as a bad giveaway from Villa on the left flank saw United capitalize as Rooney fed a perfect through-ball into Cleverley who smashed his shot past Guzan.

Villa tried to get back into the game but despite their best efforts, a 75th minute free kick from Agbonlahor which De Gea beat away well, United held firm and dominated the second half with a confident, composed and professional display across the pitch.

A bevvy of substitutions from Untied saw Darren Fletcher and Ashley Young come on to see the game out as United enter the festive period with a resounding win under their belt and positive signs for Moyes to build on.


Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Baker, Luna; Westwood, El Ahmadi (Bacuna, 85), Sylla (Weimann, 62), Albrighton; Agbonlahor, Benteke (Kozak, 78)

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Cleverley, Giggs (Fletcher, 70), Januzaj (Young, 70); Rooney (Zaha, 83), Welbeck

Goals: Welbeck (15 & 18), Cleverley (52)

Smalling considering full-time Roma switch: “Long may it continue”

Chris Smalling
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Manchester United loanee Chris Smalling is talking up life in Rome amidst a possible Serie A Team of the Season campaign.

Smalling had a disappointing 2018/19 season at Old Trafford, so it’s not a surprise that Solskjaer thought he could do better than the 30-year-old.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Instead, Smalling’s numbers are close to that of record-signing Harry Maguire in a Serie A league with slightly more scoring. Smalling ranks in Italy’s top ten for interceptions (2.2), clearances (4.5) and blocks (1.2).

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca wants the player to stay, as i Lupi are fifth in Serie A and Smalling when has played nearly every minute when healthy. Smalling told our friends Sky Sports that he has “an interesting decision to make.”

“Some of the other players said if you really hit the ground running, the love that you can have in this city is unbelievable. That’s really what I’ve felt and so have my family. Long may it continue.”

His age makes it tricky, but the advanced stats show that Smalling has been a very effective Premier League center back for four of his last six seasons.

Smalling may want to leave if Solskjaer isn’t prepared to hand him regular football, which would be a given in Rome. Now what’s the price tag?

According to WhoScored’s player comparison tool:

Chris Smalling

Watch Live: Liverpool v. West Ham

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Liverpool v West Ham takes center stage at Anfield on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via as the Reds aim to reclaim their 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.


Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten this season and with five more wins needed to guarantee the Premier League title, the finishing line is in sight. They are aiming for an 18th consecutive Premier League win which would equal Man City’s record for the most victories on the trot in top-flight history.

As for David Moyes and the Hammers, they are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table and their daunting run of fixtures makes them one of the favorites for relegation.

Last season the Hammers did draw at home against Liverpool in the PL which was a key factor in the Reds not winning the title last time out but West Ham look extremely far from the team they were last season.

Liverpool v West Ham is first against 18th and all signs point to a big win for the home side as their unbeaten season continues with 25 victories from 26 games so far.

In team news Liverpool are without captain Jordan Henderson who has suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for the next three weeks.

Naby Keita comes in for Henderson in midfield as the rest of the Liverpool team is what you expect.

West Ham are without the injured Ryan Fredericks who suffered a shoulder injury in the 2-0 defeat at Man City on Wednesday.

Teenager Jeremy Ngakia comes in to replace Fredericks, while Felipe Anderson also comes into the lineup.



Kids under 12 banned from heading in UK

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LONDON (AP) Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

[ MORE: US Soccer bans heading ]

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.

“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”

The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.

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Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Man City and Chelsea face Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively and both know they face tough tasks to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals as they do battle with two European heavyweights.

Glory in the Champions League is now the main focus for Pep Guardiola and Man City following their two-season European ban from UEFA which they are appealing. Frank Lampard‘s young Chelsea side host the Bundesliga leaders and hugely experienced Bayern, with the German giants the favorites to advance.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

The Premier League sides are up against it but both teams are extremely capable of scoring goals for fun but it is at the other end of the pitch where they struggle as both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be hoping their star attackers shine on the big stage once again.

In the other two last 16 clashes this week Napoli host Barcelona as Lionel Messi warmed up very nicely with four goals against Eibar, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus head to Lyon for the first leg as the Italian giants are expected to advance with ease.

Both Messi and Ronaldo badly want another Champions League title to their name but Lyon and Napoli are more than capable of picking up big first leg wins at home.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.

Napoli 1-1 Barcelona
Chelsea 1-2 Bayern Munich

Lyon 1-3 Juventus
Real Madrid 2-3 Man City