Aston Villa – Leicester City: A quickfire, first-half goal and assist from Harvey Barnes delivered Leicester City a lead it would not relinquish in a 2-1 win over Jack Grealish-less Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.
Leicester puts the onus on Manchester United with the three points, moving free of the Red Devils into second place with 49 points. That total is seven back of Man City before the leaders visit Arsenal.
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Villa still has a match-in-hand on all seven teams had of it but cannot create distance on Tottenham and Arsenal with the loss. Their 36 points are nine shy of fourth-place West Ham.
James Maddison scored Leicester’s other goal before leaving the match injured in the second half.
Three things we learned from Aston Villa – Leicester City
1. Quick-strike Leicester does it again: Leicester City seemingly has a habit of scoring in bunches, and Harvey Barnes wound up with a goal and an assist in a four-minute first-half span to deliver all the goals Leicester would need at Villa Park. When the Foxes start to feel it, they really act. It could’ve been 4-0 early.
2. Villa nearly overcomes Grealish absence: Tyrone Mings flashed a leaping 95th-minute effort wide of goal with a backward-leaning header, and Villa came within a few yards of overcoming Grealish’s first missed match after a 50-match, 4500-minute Premier League run. Also missing energetic Matty Cash, Villa will feel aggrieved by the rare mistakes from star keeper Emiliano Martinez.
3. Maddison injury darkens day: The Foxes have injury problems and dealt with them well on the day, locking things up defensively in the second half, but Maddison limping off is a major worry for a team that fell apart in terms of depth issues last season (in part because Maddison was out as well). Stay tuned.
Man of the Match: Harvey Barnes
Aston Villa – Leicester City recap
Leicester City was at it early, but needed a double challenge from Justin Thomas and Youri Tielemans to deny Bertrard Traore as a skilled backheel pass from Ollie Watkins to Anwar El Ghazi cued up the Burkinabe forward.
Maddison made it 1-0 in the 19th minute off a Leicester City counter as Harvey Barnes picked up the scraps of a long ball to the top of the 18 and fed his fellow English international for a low shot off the fingertips of Emiliano Martinez and the inside of the near post.
Ricardo Pereira tried his second shot in the 22nd and Martinez got full extension to collect the ball.
Martinez couldn’t hold Jamie Vardy’s hard 23rd-minute drive and Barnes slammed home the rebound for 2-0. Villa’s defense and its keeper would not be anticipating their return to the locker room to see Dean Smith.
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Villa didn’t scare, though, and Traore had the ball over the line for 2-1 in a move that caused a shoving match between Ollie Watkins and Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Maddison was slowed by an injury early in the second half and played a bit more before being treated again in the 62nd but staying on the pitch. Ultimately, he subbed off.