Bjorn Engels

Liverpool snatch dramatic late win at Aston Villa

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Liverpool just won’t give up.

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Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten in the Premier League, as they struck twice late on to win 2-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Andrew Robertson headed home in the 88th minute to equalize after Trezeguet had given Villa the lead in the first half, then Sadio Mane scored in stoppage time to seal the dramatic comeback win.

Liverpool’s lead atop the table remains at six points ahead of their next Premier League game, which is against Man City next Sunday.


3 things we learned

1. Gritty Liverpool grind it out again: What a comeback. This Liverpool side have fought back in each of their last three games, with a draw at Man United, a win against Tottenham and now a late, late, late victory at Aston Villa thanks to another comeback. The way Klopp and his players celebrated when Mane scored told the entire story. This is a side which never gives up. They were relentless and bullied their way back into the game after another slow start. With their 27-game unbeaten run on the line, Liverpool stood tall. Like they keep doing each and every week, no matter what situation they find themselves in.

2. Villa fail to make most of another shock lead: Just like they did against Tottenham on the opening day of the season, Villa coughed up another shock lead. Dean Smith‘s side are a fine team to watch but they just don’t have that nasty edge to their game to grind out victories. That will come and hanging on against Liverpool isn’t easy, but they sat back and just couldn’t couldn’t control the game in midfield as the Reds won the ball back time and time again.

3. Title race set up perfectly: Both Liverpool and Man City rallied to secure late comeback wins on Saturday, and it set things up for their monster clash at Anfield next Sunday. There will be so many twists and turns in this title race, and next weekend’s encounter will be epic. Liverpool are doing everything they can to stay ahead of Man City because they know Pep Guardiola‘s side will improve. After 11 games of the season, the title race is set up perfectly.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – A constant pest for Villa’s defense, Mane set up Robertson to make it 1-1, then scored the winner himself in stoppage time. A superb display in a superb season for Mane, even if he was booked for simulation in the first half. Aside from that he was brilliant.


Wesley and Bjorn Engels almost got on the end of a loose ball in the box as Villa were pinned back early but

Villa did take the lead through Trezeguet, as a free kick to the back post found the Egyptian winger unmarked and he finished to make it 1-0.

Liverpool then thought they had equalized as Firmino put the ball in the back of the net after a cross from Mane, but the Brazilian was offside and VAR was used to rule it out. By the tightest of margins, Liverpool were denied a first half equalizer.

Mane was then caught by Frederic Guilbert as VAR was used and the Liverpool forward was booked for simulation.

Liverpool huffed and puffed as they tried to get back in the game, as Villa did their best to lock down the lively Mane.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Georginio Wijnaldum tested Tom Heaton and then the English goalkeeper denied Mane’s header, while at the other end Wesley was almost set free on the break.

Mohamed Salah was found by Andrew Robertson at the back post but his header was off target as Liverpool pushed hard for an equalizer.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a big impact off the bench as Engels and Mings blocked his shots, then Mane slipped as he got an effort off on the edge of the box and Adam Lallana then missed a glorious chance.

At the other end Trezeguet set up Connor Hourihane and with Alisson racing off his line, Virgil Van Dijk arrived to clear the danger.

Trent Alexander-Arnold flashed a shot inches wide, and then Liverpool secured the win.

First, Robertson headed home at the back post to make it 1-1 after Mane’s great cross.

And then Alexander-Arnold’s free kick was tipped over in stoppage time, and from the resulting corner Mane brilliantly flicked home a header to make it 2-1.

Cue wild scenes in the away end at Villa Park.

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v. Liverpool

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  • Liverpool lead title race by 6 points
  • Villa sit 15th in PL table, on 11 points
  • LFC won 6-0 last trip to Villa Park, in 2016

Liverpool’s 100-percent Premier League record may have ended two weeks ago with a 1-1 draw away to rivals Manchester United, but the Reds continue to pace the PL title race ahead of Saturday’s trip to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold).

In theory, facing a recently promoted side like Villa should be the most straightforward challenge in a week that saw Liverpool take on, and beat, both north London sides — first, Tottenham Hotspur in PL action on Sunday, followed by Arsenal in a 5-5 thriller in the EFL Cup on Wednesday. It’s been a taxing period for Jurgen Klopp‘s men, though, as they came back from 1-0 down to Tottenham inside the game’s first minute and erased a pair of two-goal deficits to the Gunners before triumphing in a penalty shootout. Coincidentally, Liverpool and Villa were then drawn against one another in the quarterfinals of the EFL Cup, tentatively scheduled to be played in mid-December. Before that was a trip to Belgium in the Champions League and another fight-back from a goal down against Man United.

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The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Virgil Van Dijk were all spared from further action midweek, their first period of inaction in over a month, including the recent international break. Klopp is plenty wary about the demands of the modern game. The EFL Cup presents the ideal opportunity to rest first-team stars, but he needs them to return at the peak of their abilities once it’s back to PL action if Liverpool are to hold of Manchester City and win their first English league title since 1990.

Villa won’t be a pushover, however, as Dean Smith‘s side has won three of its last four games in all competitions, including back-to-back games against fellow relegation battlers in PL action and an EFL Cup round of 16 triumph over Wolverhampton Wanderers. The lone blemish came in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat away to Man City, a game they kept scoreless for the entire first half before Raheem Sterling opened the floodgates in the first minute of the second half.

Injuries/suspensions

Aston Villa: OUT – Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Jack Grealish (calf)

Liverpool: OUT – Joel Matip (knee), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Naby Keita (groin), Nathaniel Clyne (knee)


Projected lineups

Aston Villa: Heaton – Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett – Nakamba – Trezeguet, McGinn, Luiz, Grealish – Wesley

Liverpool: Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson – Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum – Salah, Firmino, Mane


What they’re saying

Bjorn Engels, on bragging rights: “My girlfriend is from Liverpool. Her whole family is. And they are all Reds, too. We have been joking about things in the build-up. I think Aston Villa is the only team who can beat Liverpool and they won’t be too upset. If we win, I think there will be no problem. They love Liverpool. Of course, when you are born with a team, that is who you support. But I think they will be happy for me if we get a good result.”

Klopp, on Georginio Wijnaldum’s importance: “Gini speaks on the pitch for the way he plays. It’s just so obvious his importance. And it is in both directions — in attack and defence, small spaces, big spaces, it is hard challenges, fine football, pretty much all of that. Is he the perfect midfielder? Yes, from the skill set, 100 percent. He has all that you need.”


Prediction

Liverpool haven’t been at their very best in recent weeks, but they’ve managed to pick up positive results against some tough sides. Having the luxury of resting the big names this week should do them a world of good and bring about a swift response, at Villa’s expense. Aston Villa 0-3 Liverpool.

Man City ease by Aston Villa, close gap at the top

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Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as Pep Guardiola‘s side cut the gap to league leaders Liverpool to three points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The reigning Premier League champs scored three times in the second half as Villa were stubborn but barely threatened in attack. Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne (it looked like David Silva got the final touch) and Ilkay Gundogan grabbed the goals for City as they won with minimum fuss. Fernandinho was sent off for a second yellow card, which means he will miss the League Cup game against Southampton in midweek.

Man City now have 22 points from their opening 10 games of the season, while Villa remain on 11 points.


3 things we learned

1. Sterling’s incredible season continues: Sterling has scored 13 times in 14 appearances in all competitions so far this season. That is an amazing start for the winger. Sterling’s ability to finish chances has improved dramatically and he’s even angry at himself for not scoring or creating more. He is now so efficient in the final third and was so dangerous as Villa didn’t know what to do with him.

2. Man City put the pressure on Liverpool: A few weeks ago City were out of the title race and everyone was handing the trophy to Liverpool. If Jurgen Klopp‘s men slip up against Spurs on Sunday, their lead atop the table could be cut to three or four points. Man City look comfortable at being the hunters, just as they proved last season. It almost helps Guardiola’s men as they crank through the gears and there is extra intensity to their game. City would love to be leading the PL but after their shock defeat against Wolves they have responded well.

3. Villa will be top 10 contenders: They kept City out for 45 minutes but one lapse in concentration cost Aston Villa. Dean Smith will be disappointed with that but he knows that getting points against Man City this week and Liverpool next week would a be a bonus. The newly-promoted side look capable of taking care of business against teams in the bottom half of the table and Villa look set to challenge for a top 10 finish.

Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling – His incredible goalscoring exploits are backed up by his dangerous runs, passes and movement in the final third. He is in the form of his life and driving City on. Superb display.


Man City should have taken the lead as Sterling and David Silva set up the chance and Jesus fired a shot inches wide.

Sterling’s shot then deflected off Bjorn Engels arm and wide and although the home players appealed for a penalty kick, VAR checked and waved the calls away.

On the break Aston Villa almost took the lead as John McGinn curled a powerful shot towards the bottom corner which Ederson saved and on the rebound VAR was used as Douglas Luiz claimed he was taken down by a combination of Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo.

Villa then appealed for another penalty kick as Trezeguet’s was blocked by John Stones but nothing was given, and at the other end Sterling flicked a header just wide after good play from Benjamin Mendy and Silva.

David Silva went close just before the break as he somehow put his shot wide after Sterling’s trickery, as Villa left City frustrated.

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It took 30 seconds of the second half for City to take the lead as Ederson’s clearance was flicked on by Jesus and Sterling finished to make it 1-0. Easy.

Mendy then had a shot across goal deflected wide as City piled on the pressure, the Engels gave the ball away and Jesus’ shot was saved by Heaton then somehow cleared off the line by Mings.

Villa remained dangerous on the break but City wrapped up the win as De Bruyne’s cross seemed to flick off David Silva’s foot and after a lengthy VAR check with Sterling close to touching the ball from an offside position, the goal stood. 2-0.

Gundogan made it 3-0 soon after as KDB’s corner was kept alive by Fernandinho who whipped the ball across goal and the German midfielder finished in style. Game. Set. Match.

Late on Fernandinho was sent off for picking up a second yellow card, while substitute Phil Foden twice went close, Jesus hit the bar and McGinn hit the post in a wild finale.

10-man Arsenal wins thriller over Aston Villa

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Remember how many joked that Arsenal was just gonna have to go outscore everyone due to their firepower up top and not much at the back?

They did it again Sunday, coming back from a goal down and a man down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Calum Chambers, and Nicolas Pepe scored to help overcome Ainsley Maitland-Niles‘ pair of early yellow cards as Arsenal moved fourth with 11 points.

John McGinn and Wesley Morales provided Aston Villa 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the game. Villa remains 18th with four points.


Three things we learned

1. David Luiz might be a Chelsea secret agent: The ex-Chelsea man was again heavy in blame in the concession of an Arsenal goal, as his sleepy, tepid attempt to stop Jack Grealish‘s cut back to Wesley ended with the latter smashing the ball into the goal moments after the Gunners had equalized from the spot. The veteran defender has been almost automatic for a big error per game.

Also, don’t just hate on Luiz. Look at this defending on the first Arsenal goal.

2. Aubameyang in the rarest of airs: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played for two attack-forward teams, and drawn so many, “Yeah, buts” from critics, but the Gabonese wonder has been absolutely sensational. He has seven goals in seven matches this season across all competitions, and where would the Gunners be without him?

3. Gunners step up late: Down a man and 72 hours after playing in Germany, the Gunners had to find a hero. They found two, one likely and the other not so much. Chambers found a wonderful Guendouzi pass and outworked two Villa defenders to level the score at 2, and Aubameyang slashed a free kick home in the 84th.

Man of the Match: It was probably Pepe, who got his first Arsenal goal to go with an industrious day down the right. His vision is exceptional, perhaps outdone only by his freakishly athletic skill set. But you’re forgiven if you plug Aubameyang’s name in this space. And McGinn was terrific in defeat, but flubbed a chance to make it 3-3.


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Ainsley Maitland-Niles could’ve had Arsenal ahead in the first minute, but he sent Saka’s cross high into the stands despite his station unmarked near the spot.

John McGinn forced Bernd Leno into the first save of the match two minutes later at the other end. The same keeper would stop the same shooter in the 11th minute.

Aubameyang couldn’t get purchase on a headed pass from Sead Kolasinac in the 16th minute after a Nicolas Pepe cross.

McGinn’s third bite at the apple was wide open and successful, as Anwar El Ghazi‘s cross spotted his run at the penalty spot and Leno had little hope of interfering with the opportunity. 1-0, 20’.

Maitland-Niles then slid into a challenge and caught a stamp during his foul. A second yellow was awarded and Arsenal was down a goal and a man.

Villa couldn’t find a second goal despite numerous chances, and Matteo Guendouzi won a straight-forward penalty off barging defender Bjorn Engels. Pepe converted the goal.

But Villa restored its lead within a minute, Jack Grealish blazing down the left side to cut back to the middle, where Wesley darted in front of sleepy David Luiz to finish the chance.

Chambers was the next to finish off a terrific pass from Guendouzi and even better work from the fullback. And Aubameyang’s free kick… holy smoke (embedded atop the page).

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v. Everton

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Everton has a chance to break out of an early-season slump offensively with a trip to newly-promoted Aston Villa on Friday at Villa Park. (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

The Toffees have scored just one goal through the first two games of the season, thanks to the tricky winger Bernard, but Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and new signing Moise Kean off the bench haven’t delivered just yet. That could change though against a the defensive pair of Bjorn Engels and Tyrone Mings, which are still gaining chemistry.

Morgan Schneiderlin could make his return after missing last week with suspension and could partner with Andre Gomes in midfield. However, new signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin performed admirably for Marco Silva, and he could have some selection headaches already this early in the season.

For Dean Smith and Aston Villa, it’s another night game at home in Villa Park, and a chance to get the side’s first win. After a strong finish against Bournemouth, maybe it can take that momentum into Friday’s match against Everton.


Projected lineups

Aston Villa: Heaton; El Mohamady, Engels, Mings, Taylor; McGinn, Luiz, Grealish; Trezeguet, Wesley, Jota

Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Schneiderlin, Gomes; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Iwobi; Calvert-Lewin.


What they’re saying

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith on his side’s attack so far: “Our most likely scorer at the moment looks like John McGinn, who has made some really deep runs into the opposition half. Saying that, Jack Grealish had a really good chance last weekend. Wesley has teed up Trezeguet for a good chance. Even Neil Taylor has had two chances. So we’re creating chances and we just have to start taking them now. I am sure they will come.”

Everton manager Marco Silva on his team’s defensive resiliency: “The feeling is really good when we finish a match and haven’t conceded a goal. It means we have worked together and are understanding the plans and our way of defending. It starts up front and all of them have to be proud because of the work they are doing. I am really proud of what we are achieving with our defensive organisation.”


Both teams have spent heavily in the offseason to upgrade their squad, but Aston Villa is still finding life difficult back in the Premier League. Everton, at least, still have a strong defensive core, and should be able to hold off the likes of Wesley and McGinn with his late runs into the box.

With another week of fitness in Richarlison and a chance for Alex Iwobi to play, either starting or off the bench, Everton has a chance to really brush past Aston Villa and make a statement. However, they’re clearly still a work in progress, so it will probably be another tight game. Everton 2-1 Aston Villa