Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa: Agbonlahor’s early score leads Villa past listless Liverpool (video)

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Gabriel Agbonlahor picked up a scrappy goal early and Aston Villa held firm as Liverpool had nothing to offer its home fans at Anfield and blew a chance at jumping into the top four of the Premier League table.

Aston Villa hasn’t lost at Anfield since 2010, and their odd streak continues thanks to a solid defensive shape and physical style of play.

[WATCH: Full match replay available here]

The first chance of the game fell to Lazar Markovic in the sixth minute, who latched onto a cross to head towards the far post, but it went a few feet wide.

It was Villa, though, who started the better side, and they cashed in.  Their first corner flew into the box just inside 10 minutes, and defender Philippe Senderos was able to get a head to the ball and send it towards the goal. It hit Gabriel Agbonlahor on the way in, but the Villa striker was able to collect, turn, and touch home from point blank range.

The visitors continued to be dangerous at Anfield, where Villa manager Paul Lambert has never lost, and they came close to a second on 12 minutes. Senderos again proved dangerous on set pieces, as a free kick from dead center of the attacking half came in and Senderos latched on, but sent it over the bar as Simon Mignolet barked at his Reds defense.

[VIDEO: Premier League Highlights here]

Senderos also found himself a bit lucky after 23 minutes, as he stuck a boot out and kicked Mario Balotelli with the play nowhere near him, but the referee missed it completely.  Likely had the referee seen the play, it would have deserved a straight red card.

Villa stifled the Reds attack, clogging their lanes well and then hitting back on the break.  Liverpool found their first real opening in the 26th minute when Philippe Coutinho dinked a long ball into the box.  It found the head of Jordan Henderson and he touched back for Adam Lallana in space, but his shot was blocked by Senderos.

Villa continued to play hack-a-Mario on the Italian striker, scything him down on every opportunity, whether the ball was at his feet or not.  Senderos was not the only guilty party, as Alan Hutton also ripped him down on the touchline on the half-hour mark.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

Senderos continued to be a menace on set pieces, as another corner on 37 minutes found his feet but he blasted over.

After the break, Liverpool looked more like themselves with an attacking hunger and using pace to their advantage, but they couldn’t capitalize. Rodgers removed Lallana in favor of Raheem Sterling with a half hour to go, and then removed Mario Balotelli for Ricky Lambert 10 minutes later to try and get fresh legs in the attack.

Their first real chance since early in the match came on 79 minutes, when Philippe Coutinho scrambled to take a corner and it found the head of Dejan Lovern but he just missed the bullseye in the far corner.  Then Coutinho just two minutes later crashed the post with a shot but again failed to test Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a shot.

Liverpool pushed hard for a goal as it creeped towards stoppage time, but Villa put numbers behind the ball and showed no signs of even coming close to conceding, as every ball pumped into the box was regurgitated back out.

Villa held on for the road win, and their three points push Lambert’s club up to 10 points, good enough for second place in the Premier League meaning Aston Villa and Swansea hold the second and third place spots in the table.  Meanwhile, Liverpool blow their chance to make the top four, and instead sit on six points and have two losses to couple with two wins.

Also, the clean sheet gives Brad Guzan three on the season, the only Premier League goalkeeper with that number.

LINEUPS:

Liverpool: Mignolet; Manquillo, Moreno, Lovren, Sakho; Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Markovic (Borini 71′), Lallana (Sterling 61′); Balotelli (Lambert 71′).

Aston Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Cissokho, Westwood, Delph, Cleverley, Richardson, Agbonlahor, Weimann.

Goals: Agbonlahor 9′

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Leaked image shows big fines that face Chelsea rule breakers

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Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.

A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.

If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.

And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.

From The Telegraph:

Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.

The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.

The full list of fines is below.

Kompany: Liverpool’s Premier League title ghosts should ‘be to City’s advantage’

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Vincent Kompany says history could help Manchester City climb back into the Premier League title race even after his former team dropped nine points back of first place Liverpool.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

Now at Anderlecht, the center back also said history might’ve played a role in City’s 3-1 setback at Anfield. In a rare bit of explicit honesty, the often interesting Kompany said that players do deal with demons of a club’s past.

“We always struggle at Anfield,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “I said that on Super Sunday, you’re fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that’s difficult, it’s two games in one game: You’re playing a great team and you’re fighting history.”

“Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool. They will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years. That should be to City’s advantage I still think.”

Do you buy that? Most of the buzz around the Premier League is that this Liverpool is a different team than even the dominant one of last season, and City has suffered big injury problems. The Reds players almost went out of their way last year to say they weren’t worried about blowing their table lead last season (which was bigger, later in the season).

Kompany also said that he believes City doesn’t need to add a center back in January, which is bonkers unless he’s coming back, but the Belgian has proven time and again that he’s one of the better minds in the game.

The guy did title  his MBA dissertation, “How professional football clubs in the Premier League can benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement” after all. Then again, I’m not sure any of our dissertations on the same topic would’ve been approved had we done that.

Liverpool’s Salah to miss Egypt’s first two AFCON qualifiers

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Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.

Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).

Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).

Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).

Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.