Dean Smith

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Leicester City wallops Aston Villa

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Harvey Barnes led Leicester City to a 4-0 win over Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium on Monday, snapping a four-match Premier League winless run.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Barnes scored and played a role in Leicester City’s other two goals as Jamie Vardy bagged his first two goals of 2020 in the win. Marc Albrighton assisted both the Foxes’ goals.

Leicester now has 58 points to hold an eight-point advantage on fifth place, 10 over sixth.

Villa’s 25 points are two behind a trio of teams. The Villans have lost four-straight in league play and sit 19th. They next face Chelsea, Newcastle, Wolves, and Liverpool.


Three things we learned

1. Vardy’s 2020 finally begins: Leicester City star Jamie Vardy had 17 goals on the Premier League season entering Monday’s action, but had not found the back of the goal since a 3-1 loss to Man City on Dec. 21. The goal moves Vardy back ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the race for the Golden Boot. More important, however, is the idea that Vardy could help Leicester firm up its top four credentials.

2. Villa architects of own demise (and VAR didn’t help): There’s no question that Leicester was the better team on the day, but their breakthroughs both came from Villa errors. Reina’s race to meet Albrighton’s delightful long ball to Barnes was ill-conceived and Mings’ unlucky lunge cost Villa any hopes of a comeback. Should it have been a penalty? Probably not, but it’s a low-percentage defensive move anyway.

3. Barnes an easy Man Of The Match: The 22-year-old scored his fifth and sixth league goals to go with six assists, and served the ball that led to Vardy’s penalty while also helping negotiate the counter for Vardy’s second. Barnes also is a willing combatant in his own end, winning the lion’s share of his duels while being credited with three tackles and an interception.


The visitors stormed out of the gates, and an early free kick was slid wide of the goal by Mbwana Samatta.

Leicester responded, with Kelechi Iheanacho missing wide before Pepe Reina made a great save on a Jonny Evans header.

Villa defender Frederic Guibert’s well-timed tackle earned penalty shouts from the Leicester faithful in the 23rd minute.

The Foxes kept coming, and Iheanacho missed wide with a promising header attempt 10 minutes later.

Barnes put Leicester City ahead in the 41st, as Albrighton sprung him down the wing. Barnes pushed the ball around an onrushing Reina and slotted into the empty goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Reina denied a breaking Iheanacho in the 47th minute as Leicester kept coming forward.

It continued to be all-Leicester, and Dean Smith prepared some subs in the hopes of injecting life into his side.

Mings was whistled for a penalty before that could happen, his shoulder striking the ball in a lunge to block Barnes’ cross. Vardy beat Reina to make it 2-0 with 28 minutes to play.

Evans made two tackles to spring a counter for Leicester’s third, Barnes waiting to play Vardy down the left.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 28

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One and two are pretty much set in stone, but there’s a new three on the block and only they seem a threat to challenge two.

It’s a lot of words to preview one of our final club power rankings of the Premier League season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Norwich City — A great win over Leicester inspires thoughts that the tricky schedule won’t be as big of an issue as it first looked.
Last week: 20
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Sheffield United

19. Aston Villa — The guts shown in the League Cup Final are replicable. Can Dean Smith coax them out again (and again)?
Last week: 19
Season high: 6
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Saints
Up next: 4 p.m. ET Monday at Leicester City

18. Bournemouth —  Nice draw with Chelsea.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 2-2 v. Chelsea
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Liverpool

17. Watford — The win over Liverpool is a dream. The loss of Gerard Deulofeu is a nightmare.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Palace

16. Newcastle United — So drab. And if there isn’t another win soon, the back end of the schedule will send them down.
Last week: 15
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Southampton

15. Brighton and Hove Albion — At some point, the unluckiness has to wear on the Seagulls. Performances have been better than the depths of the table.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Wolves

14. West Ham United — much-needed win has them out of the table on goal differential.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Southampton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Arsenal

13. Crystal Palace — Roy Hodgson deserves a lot of praise for conjuring life back into the Eagles. If Christian Benteke could finish, the Eagles would be tempting the UEL places.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 1-0 at Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

12. Southampton — The Saints are on a plateau.
Last week: 12
Season high: 7
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-1 at West Ham
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

11. Sheffield United — Did the week off provide Chris Wilder a plan to play Sander Berge and John Lundstram together effectively?
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday v. Norwich City

10. Burnley — Unextinguishable.
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 0-0 at Newcastle United
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

9. Arsenal — Pablo Mari looked good against Portsmouth. West Ham will be a slight step up.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Won 3-2 v. Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday v. West Ham

8. Leicester City — Two points from four matches, with Villa next. Brendan Rodgers should count his blessings the chasing pack has largely taken a collective nap.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Norwich City
Up next: 4 p.m. ET Monday v. Aston Villa

7. Manchester United — Bruno Fernandes is a magician. It’s a shame we won’t get to see him with Marcus Rashford any time soon (though he’s set to make it back before the end of the season).
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Everton
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday v. Man City

6. Everton — Is Jordan Pickford really a problem? For your average side, no, but Everton wants to shoot high. He needs to do a bit better with the expected stops, because he’s got a knack for the wild stops.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Manchester United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday at Chelsea

5. Tottenham Hotspur — Results must improve, but so much the system. What’s the plan?
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 3-2 v. Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

4. Chelsea — Disappointing draw with Bournemouth, but few behind them did anything to justify dropping them further.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Drew 2-2 at Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Sunday v. Everton

3. Wolves — They can and will out-run and outlast you, and Raul Jimenez will devour your back line.
Last week: 7
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 3-2 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Brighton

2. Man City — Bold prediction considering Aymeric Laporte is out: City will finish within 19 points of Liverpool to preserve their record triumph from 2017/18 over Manchester United.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 1-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

1. Liverpool — A loss was bound to happen, and more may come as Liverpool reprioritizes the Champions League and perhaps the FA Cup.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

Man City wins third-straight League Cup

Man City wins third-straight League Cup
(Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
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Manchester City won its third-straight League Cup trophy, outlasting a game challenge from Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: “Clinical” Foden reacts ]

It’s the eighth trophy of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City, as Rodri and Sergio Aguero scored in a 2-1 win. City’s seven league cups trail only Liverpool’s eight.

Mbwana Samatta pulled a goal back for Villa, who was denied extra time by a brilliant Claudio Bravo save. City had 70 percent of the ball and a 22-5 shots edge, but made a furious bid over the final few minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Another trophy for City, with new heroes: Winning silverware never gets old, and this one will feel especially nice given the tumultuous season at the Etihad Stadium and impending UEFA Champions League ban. Villa proving difficult to beat lent the occasion more intensity.

The names helping City to glory were mostly new to the trophy chase, or at least unusual to it. Rodri helped set up the first goal and scored the second. Phil Foden was an absolute menace. And Bravo made a tremendous late save to ensure the match didn’t go beyond 90 minutes.

2. Foden announces himself: It can be easy to tire of the “did the young English player play and how did he play?” storyline with Premier League, but this isn’t that: Phil Foden was electrifying in this one, recalling fellow spark plug Jack Grealish on the opposite sideline.

The kid was sensational, completing 90 percent of his passes including two key passes. He completed three of four dribbles, won 7 of 10 duels, and made an interception to go with two tackles. That says nothing of his ability to move the ball in tight spaces before finding a safe outlet. Wonderful from a kid who’s still a teenager until May 28.

3. Bad call burns Villa, as fans provide occasion: Neither the AR nor head referee saw the ball touch Ilkay Gundogan last ahead of a wrongly-awarded Man City corner. VAR isn’t going to be deployed for every corner, nor should it be, but the missed call allowed Gundogan’s corner that Rodri buried for 2-0.

Villa’s fans were tentative early, but snapped to life once Samatta scored and found another level after the hour mark. It will have been a memorable day for a big club even if Dean Smith‘s men can’t shake the relegation blues.

Man of the Match: It’s between Rodri and Foden, with an acknowledging nod to Villa defender Tyrone Mings. We’ll give it to Rodri, City’s underrated star.


Early chances went both ways, Anwar El Ghazi heading over the goal at one end before John Stones headed a Gundogan did the same at the other.

City took the lead on an incisive, clinical play. Rodri swept a pass over the line to a streaking Phil Foden, who cut back for Aguero.

The Argentine had plenty to do with a leaping side-footed finish of an airborne ball.

El Ghazi cut around Stones to shoot toward the near post, but Claudio Bravo was in position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rodri had it 2-0 off a Gundogan corner that should not have been. The ball went off Gundogan last on the end line, but VAR cannot review every corner.

Villa got one back when Stones fell over, allowing El Ghazi to cross between Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko for a waiting Samatta.

City couldn’t find the goal to put the game to bed and introduced Kevin De Bruyne for Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola not content to ride out a one-goal win.

Rodri almost had another when Nyland pawed away a 74th-minute bid, and Aguero slipped in a bid to side volley a Sterling cross past Nyland.

Villa won a corner in the 87th minute through the industry of Trezeguet, the crowd again meeting the moment. Bravo made an incredible save to push Bjorn Engels‘ header off the post.

FOLLOW LIVE: Villa, Man City in League Cup Final

League Cup Final
Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
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Can Dean Smith and Aston Villa deny Manchester City its eighth trophy under Pep Guardiola?

The heavy underdogs will try during the 2019/20 League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, which kicks off at 11:30 a.m. ET.

[ FOLLOW: Aston Villa v. Man City ]

City has won the last two League Cups to give the reigning Premier League champions six in its existence. Only Liverpool’s eight number more.

Villa can join City on six with a Wembley win, the Midlands side last lifting the cup in 1996.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Phil Foden gets a start in Guardiola’s engine room, while John Stones partners with Fernandinho at center back.

Jack Grealish, of course, will captain Villa, with Mbwana Samatta leading the line and Orjan Nyland between the posts.

LINEUPS

Aston Villa:

Manchester City:

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 27

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The latest batch of Premier League Club Power Rankings has the season’s biggest surprise dipping a bit while serial grinders Burnley head back up the list.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Norwich City — The Canaries’ defense is covering the club in coal.
Last week: 20
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Wolves
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Friday v. Leicester City

19. Aston Villa — Did Dean Smith‘s strong words wake ’em up? We won’t know until after the League Cup Final, where everyone will be amped.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Saints
Up next: 4 p.m. ET March 9 at Leicester City

18. Watford — The new manager bounce is super dead.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-0 at Manchester United
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

17. Bournemouth — The schedule is not forgiving, which makes the 3-0 loss to Burnley all the more sickening for fans of the Cherries.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Chelsea

16. West Ham United — An improved performance from Moyes’ boys, even if all they’re doing is not winning.
Last week: 19
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-2 at Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Southampton

15. Newcastle United — Woeful versus Palace, and are in dire need of looking like a proper football team when Burnley visits St. James’ Park this weekend. If they can’t do it versus the Clarets, who don’t really require the ball, maybe they can’t do it. Not safe yet.
Last week: 13
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

14. Crystal Palace — The Eagles were all over Newcastle, but should be alarmed to only score once. Wilfried Zaha is a mess, but perhaps the M23 Derby will sort him out.
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Newcastle United
Up next:  7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton

13. Brighton and Hove Albion — Three-straight draws, but Graham Potters’ men still have not won in 2020. It’d be a shame if they slipped out of the top flight.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Sheffield United
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Palace

12. Southampton — Totally dominant v. Villa, a trip to West Ham could be a goal fest.
Last week: 12
Season high: 7
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at West Ham

11. Sheffield United — No shame in just getting by, but Chris Wilder‘s men are looking a bit less like a Europa League side in recent weeks.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET March 7 v. Norwich City

10. Burnley — Wins are wins are wins are wins, and we can no longer discount anything Burnley is doing just to lean on stats. Sean Dyche is Cinderella Man.
Last week: 11
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Newcastle United

9. Everton — Carlo Ancelotti will be truly let down by the lack of stops versus Arsenal to kickstart a brutal run of fixtures. Manchester United home, Chelsea away, Liverpool home are up next.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 3-2 at Arsenal
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Manchester United

8. Arsenal — With West Ham, Brighton, Saints, and Norwich next, the win over Everton could be a real springboard for a surprising top four run.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Won 3-2 v. Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET March 7 v. West Ham

7. Wolves — Huge Top four six-pointer at Spurs on Sunday, and Wolves will be grateful they’re bringing a 4-0 advantage to Espanyol on Thursday. Will Nuno Espirito Santo actually rotate?
Last week: 9
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Norwich CIty
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Spurs

6. Leicester City — The Foxes’ next four matches are against relegation candidates. Let’s see if Brendan Rodgers can get the boys looking like a top four side again.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Man City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Friday at Norwich City

5. Manchester United — Bruno Fernandes is the real deal.
Last week: 10
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 3-0 v. Watford
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Everton

4. Tottenham Hotspur — Very fortunate on so many levels to not have been walloped by Chelsea.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Chelsea
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Wolves

3. Chelsea — A much-needed win over an old friend, sweeping Jose Mourinho to firm up top four credentials.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Bournemouth

2. Man City — It’s all about the UCL for a club which is clearly one of the two best in the Premier League but miles off the title.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 1-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

1. Liverpool — For maybe the first time this season, Liverpool looked like it thought it could walk into a venue and win on its jersey alone. They were awakened before it was too late.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 3-2 v. West Ham United
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Watford