Paul Lambert gets extension at Aston Villa

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While one team may sack their manager, another is locking theirs up.

Aston Villa announced that Paul Lambert’s contract has been extended until June 2018, a very long time in managerial terms.

Lambert came on board at Villa in 2012, and really hasn’t found results. The club finished 15th in both seasons with Lambert on the touchline, including long spells flirting with relegation.

However, the Villans have shocked many with their form early on, currently sitting in second place behind Chelsea. With 10 out of a possible 12 points, could Paul Lambert be turning around his squad? Or is it merely a strong start from a mediocre team that will fizzle by Christmas?

There’s plenty of Premier League action to come, and few expect Villa to finish anywhere near their current position. Maybe Lambert has gotten a hold of his team, or maybe it’s just a run of luck. Maybe it’s even Roy Keane’s presence behind the bench…

In today’s Premier League, managers come and go like leaves in the wind. Arsene Wenger is the longest tenured manager in the league, coming to Arsenal in 1996. After Wenger, Alan Pardew has the longest tenure (for now), managing Newcastle since 2010. That leaves 18 other managers, all hired from 2012 and on.

In such a mercurial market, a four-year extension after only four games is a surprising move by Aston Villa’s management. Factor in the club’s unimpressive record overall under Lambert, and you could scratch your head even more.

Paul Lambert can celebrate his contract extension today, but looking ahead at Villa’s schedule, he has his hands full. Four consecutive matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton, and Lambert’s glorious start could be rudely interrupted by four straight losses.

Watch Live: Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday

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If you want to follow the scores from every single league across the UK, Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday has you covered from 10 a.m. ET and you can watch it live via NBC Sports Gold.

WATCH SOCCER SATURDAY LIVE 

Jeff Stelling and his panel of esteemed former professional players host the show from Sky’s studios in London and Sky have reporters based at grounds across the UK from the Premier League to League Two and all across Scotland’s four divisions and the Welsh Premier League.

With the National League (fifth tier) also reported on, they literally have every single league covered. There is an intriguing Matchweek 27 coming up in the Premier League in particular.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can also access additional Premier League games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

WATCH EVERY PREMIER LEAGUE GAME

Click on the link above to watch the Soccer Saturday lads in action as a wonderful accompaniment to all of the live Premier League games you can watch across NBC Sports’ platforms.

Watch Live: Four Premier League games, 10am ET

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Four Premier League games take center stage on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET and all four promise to be very tight encounters.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Newcastle head to Crystal Palace, Brighton travel to Sheffield United, Burnley host Bournemouth and Southampton welcome Aston Villa to St Mary’s. Good luck picking out a winner for these four evenly-matched games.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the four games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace v. Newcastle United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Rampant Chelsea secure huge win, humble rivals Tottenham

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Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to secure a huge three points in their battle fo finish in the top four of the Premier League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso struck early in each half as Jose Mourinho’s Spurs were totally dominated with Erik Lamela‘s late cross deflected in off Antonio Rudiger for nothing more than a consolation.

Frank Lampard‘s tactical changes paid off as he completed the double over his former manager, as he became the first man to beat a side managed by Mourinho both home and away in a single league season.

With the win (their first in five games) Chelsea cement their spot in fourth and now sit four points above fifth-place Spurs who have 40 points.


3 things we learned

1. Giroud delivers clinical edge: This is just what he does. For some reason Giroud has been the third-choice striker all season at Chelsea and he looked likely to leave in January. Chelsea will be glad he didn’t. Tammy Abraham is young and has cooled down after a red-hot start to the season and Michy Batshuayi doesn’t have Giroud’s composure or experience in key moments. Giroud jumped off the bench on Monday against Man United and scored but was just offside and he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. We spoke with Giroud after his display against United and he said he was fired up and ready to start, especially with a place in France’s EURO 2020 squad on the line. With Bayern Munich coming up in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, surely he has to lead the Chelsea line. With his clever runs and flicks, Giroud linked up defense and attack perfectly. This is just what he does and it is a mystery as to why he hasn’t played more this season.

2. Mourinho’s excuses seep into his players: We get it, Mourinho has been unlucky with injuries with Harry Kane out until April and Heung-Min Son perhaps out for the season. But Mourinho saying that a top four finish this season would be the best achievement of his managerial career was a stretch. That message of negativity filtered into the minds of his Spurs players as the 2-1 scoreline flattered them. Bergwijn and Moura were so isolated and Tottenham’s midfield was totally overrun. Mourinho has done well to push Spurs back into the top four conversation since he arrived but Tottenham, especially defensively, are so far away from being genuine top four contenders.

3. VAR drama rumbles on: Giovani Lo Celso should have been sent off and VAR officials at Stockley Park have since admitted that via BT Sport. His stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg was a clear case of violent conduct and a lengthy VAR review during the game resulted in the Argentine playmaker staying on the pitch. How is that possible? When you see it you will wince and even thought Azpilicueta slid in, Lo Celso had enough time to pull his foot away from the challenge. One of the worst VAR decisions you will see as the debate about its consistency rumbles on.

Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud – Scored a goal and had a hand in the second as his overall display provided Chelsea with a focal point. Even though his contract is up this summer, expect to see plenty of Giroud for Chelsea between now and then.


Chelsea looked dangerous early on as Giroud went close from a corner as the hosts came flying out of the traps.

They got the goal their fine start deserved as Giroud was denied by Hugo Lloris, Ross Barkley hit the post with the rebound and then Giroud was on hand to tuck home from a tight angle to make it 1-0.

A VAR delay to check if the goal was offside was needed but in his first start since November, Giroud had delivered. Marcos Alonso sent a volley just over as Chelsea were in their groove.

Spurs improved as half time drew closer as Lucas Moura‘s shot deflected over and then from the resulting corner a looping header from Davinson Sanchez was tipped over by Willy Caballero.

Japhet Tanganga almost made the most of a long ball in-behind Alonso but his first touch was just a tad too heavy, as Spurs were hanging in the game despite Chelsea looking the more dangerous.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The second half continued in the same pattern of the first as Chelsea doubled their lead in splendid fashion.

A flowing move which involved all four players brought into the starting lineup by Lampard saw Giroud flick the ball towards Mason Mount who fed Barkley who teed up Alonso to smash home a low shot and send the home fans wild.

Moments after a huge moment of controversy arrived as Giovani Lo Celso appeared to stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg but after a lengthy VAR check no red card was given as Chelsea’s fans, players and coaches looked on in bemusement.

Tanguy Ndombele then went down in the box as he tried to dribble towards goal but Spurs were so lackluster in attack and Chelsea totally deserved a massive three points as substitute Tammy Abraham went close late on as Lloris saved and Alonso smashed the bar with a wonderful free kick.

Tottenham did pull one back in the 89th minute after substitute Lamela crossed and his effort deflected into the net off Rudiger, but Chelsea never looked likely to cough up another goal late on.

VIDEO: Lo Celso escapes red card via VAR after horror challenge

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Giovani Lo Celso can count himself a lucky man after his horror challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta wasn’t deemed worthy of a red card by VAR.

What on earth is going on.

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Lo Celso stamped on Azpilicueta’s leg as the Chelsea skipper slid in to get the ball and even though the Spanish defender was on the floor, Spurs’ Argentine playmaker had enough time to pull out of the challenge.

After a lengthy VAR check no red card was given as Chelsea’s fans, players and coaches looked on in bemusement after Olivier Giroud’s early goal gave them the lead.

However, via BT Sport a message from Stockley Park (the VAR headquarters) was relayed to them which stated that the VAR officials got it wrong and Lo Celso should have been sent off. Make of that what you will.

Check out the video of the incident below and let us know what you think in the comments section below.