Grant Hanley

Norwich City shock struggling Leicester at Carrow Road

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Leicester City clearly missed the injured Jamie Vardy, pummeling the Canaries time and again with shots but none had the killer instinct of the absent striker. That was critical as the Foxes had no response once Jamal Lewis put Norwich City in front as the Canaries worked a crucial 1-0 victory at Carrow Road.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The game was goalless until the 71st minute when Lewis received a cross from Max Aarons that skittered through the area to the opposite side where the left-back ripped an absolute rocket that tucked inside the right post.

Vardy and his 17 goals were missing through a calf problem that may have cost the Foxes points on the road. With Leicester City looking to push Manchester City for second in the Premier League table, this loss saw them slog seven points back of the Citizens. Norwich City, meanwhile, will relish the victory as they draw just three back of the other two relegation-threatened sides.

The closest Leicester City came to a goal was a cancelled strike from Kelechi Iheanacho – Vardy’s replacement – who has a goal cancelled by VAR on a dicey handball call. It was a spotty performance at best for the Foxes who created few solid chances and


Three things we learned

1. How is Norwich City bottom of the table?

Seriously, how? Watching the first half, this Canaries squad is capable of dangerous forward play and solid defending that can only be undone by quality attacking moves. It’s true that as the first half waned on, they conceded heavy possession to the Foxes, but the hosts still threatened Leicester City multiple times and looked up for the match at Carrow Road. They are clearly missing a consistency indicative of an established Premier League side, but they look far from the worst team in the top flight. In fact, even when the game was goalless, Kasper Schmeichel was the busier of the two goalkeepers, with Tim Krul not truly threatened.

The goal was Norwich City’s first goal from open play in nearly 11 hours, an unbelievable total if you only watched this 90 minutes. If the Canaries are going to climb the mountain and stay up, they will need to channel this performance through the rest of the season.

2. Kelechi Iheanachi is no Jamie Vardy

Leicester City ripped off 12 shots in the first half, but only managed three on target. Once halftime had come and gone, Leicester City had just four more shots in the tank, with 16 total but just four on target and none with a mark of over 0.21 xG.

Vardy’s exquisite finishing ability was sorely missed as the Foxes created plenty of chances but couldn’t finish many dangerously. The 23-year-old Nigerian was hardly involved in the game, seeing a goal ruled out but also contributing little else. With Vardy at 33 years of age, the Foxes clearly need a Plan B should he end up missing any more time in the near future or down the road, because they had nothing to aim at with the talisman sidelined.

3. Leicester City is in a rut

Iheanacho was not the only on who struggled against the Premier League’s bottom side. James Maddison had very few touches in the attacking third, creating four chances but two of them came off corners and two were miles from the net. Dennis Praet and Ricardo Pereira were probably the Foxes’ most creative player but even they popped up few and far between, producing just 1.44 xG on a whopping 19 shots. Jonny Evans was constantly screaming at his fellow defenders for their loss of shape. The Foxes challenged for Man City’s second position lasted a few weeks, but they have fallen off the table and now just hope to solidify third before they fall any further in what could be a precarious home stretch.

Man of the Match: Ben Godfrey


The two teams were both bright in an entertaining start with Norwich threatening down the right on the overlap and Leicester City pressing hard. Teemu Pukki had an opportunity from the right edge on 22 minutes but Caglar Soyuncu made an acrobatic last-gasp block. That started a lengthy spell of pressure from the Canaries, but the hosts couldn’t cash in.

Leicester City’s best chance of the first half-hour came on 25 minutes as Dennis Praet found himself in a dangerous area, but he could only clip Ricardo Pereira’s delivery off the outside of the right post. Ayoze Perez also put a shot into a precarious position moments later which cannoned dangerously off the leg of Norwich City defender Grant Hanley, but went wide instead of into the gaping net.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The Foxes began to assert their dominance past the half-hour mark and Perez found Kelechi Iheanacho right in front of net, but he disappointingly fired over.

Minutes into the second half Iheanacho found the ball in the back of the net but saw it ruled out by VAR thanks to a handball on the buildup. That was Leicester City’s biggest moment as they were toothless up front otherwise. Norwich City capitalized with 19 minutes to go as Lewis pounced on a Max Aarons delivery clean across the box and delivered a cannon blast into the back of the net. Norwich nearly had a second a few minutes from full time but Kasper Schmeichel came up to save a quality effort from substitute Josip Drmic.

Newcastle United, Norwich City split spoils at St. James’ Park

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Newcastle United and Norwich City were wasteful with nearly every created chance in a 0-0 draw at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

While the Magpies’ Allan Saint-Maximin joined Norwich’s Emi Buendia in triying to lift the match, it proved too heavy.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle sits 10th with 31 points, seven points clear of the drop zone and 13 points ahead of basement-dwelling Norwich City.


Three things we learned

1. Both sides wasteful, but Canaries will be furious: Norwich City has now claimed four of its 18 season points from Newcastle, and it could’ve been six if a lively Teemu Pukki brought his finishing boots. The Canaries may’ve lost their survival hope in not taking three points from the Magpies, who still could’ve scored.

2. Magpies midfield showed why Bruce chased Soumare: Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare would be Newcastle record-signing Boubakary Soumare had the player accepted the chance to join the Northeast side. Instead, Newcastle again got a servicable but unspectacular days from Isaac Hayden, while new boy Nabil Bentaleb was promising and Sean Longstaff barely improved from a rough few outings. Star power is lacking and Jonjo Shelvey‘s return to health would be big.

3. Newcastle’s defensive core decisive: Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark continue to lead the Magpies from the back. They can be brave with their challenges and chances because goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has been tremendous between the sticks. The backs are the reason fortunate Newcastle is 10th and not 18th.

Man of the Match: Fernandez and Tim Krul share the honors, though Norwich new boy Ondrej Duda showed moments of promise despite wasting one of the day’s best chances.


Norwich City looked good early, and both Sam Byram and Teemu Pukki forced fine saves out of Magpies star keeper Martin Dubravka.

It was Tim Krul’s turn, the ex-Newcastle man pushing aside a good Joelinton header and Almiron nodding the rebound wide of the yawning cage.

Pukki was denied a long dribble when Federico Fernandez made a fantastic diving intervention to block the Finnish star’s shot.

American right back DeAndre Yedlin had his best half in ages, winning a dangerous 43rd minute free kick.

A late stoppage-time charge from Newcastle ended with a wasted stoppage time corner.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

A slow start to the second half picked up when Duda caught Isaac Hayden five yards outside the box. Matt Ritchie sailed his effort over the frame.

A Miguel Almiron-led rush ended with Allan Saint-Maximin firing into Krul’s gut in the 59th. Ex-Magpie center back Grant Hanley and Krul combined to stop an ensuing Saint-Maximin cross.

A counter was wasted by Pukki.

Hanley gave away a free kick left center, as Newcastle got a third bite at the cherry. Sean Longstaff hit the wall, and Saint-Maximin forced Krul into a corner-conceding save.

Pukki could’ve had it in the goal when Jamaal Lascelles gave it away, but Dubravka saved it off Ciaran Clark. The Irish defender then cleared a possible own goal off the line before Duda lashed wide of the goal.

Krul had to tip a tame 84th-minute header over the bar, and collected the ensuing corner as the match looked destined for 0-0.

Newcastle new boys Valentino Lazaro and Danny Rose debuted off the bench.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur — FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

Aston Villa snatch win against Norwich

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Aston Villa beat Norwich City 1-0 at Villa Park on Boxing Day as the hosts secured a massive victory against their relegation rivals in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Substitute Conor Hourihane‘s strike won it for Villa as Norwich wasted several great chances and the hosts pounced to snatch a massive three points.

The win was Villa’s first in six in the Premier League and moves them on to 18 points for the season, while Norwich stay on 12 points.


3 things we learned

1. Pukki, Norwich left frustrated: Norwich hit the bar, Pukki was denied twice just as he was about to shoot and Villa somehow kept a clean sheet as the Canaries weren’t rewarded for their attacking endeavors. That has been the case on so many occasions this season for Norwich.

2. Villa rally but confidence remains fragile: This was a huge win for Villa in their battle against relegation but they didn’t play well and will be thankful for Tom Heaton who was superb in goal and made three top class saves. Dean Smith‘s side will take the win but their confidence remains extremely low as Grealish’s quick feet and Hourihane’s finish won them the game.

3. Both teams set for relegation scrap: Norwich are now in real trouble at the bottom of the table and Daniel Farke has said all season they know they will be up against it. As for Villa, they are still in trouble despite this win and they now face another monstrous game at the bottom as they play at Watford on Dec. 28.

Man of the Match: Tom Heaton – Pulled off several fine saves to keep a clean sheet, Villa’s first in a month.


In a tense start at Villa Park it was the away side who had an early chance with Todd Cantwell‘s shot on target easy for Tom Heaton to handle.

Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz lashed towards goal as the hosts struggled to get into the game in the first half.

But Norwich should have taken the lead as Teemu Pukki was played in behind Villa’s defense but took too long to get his shot off and VAR checked for a penalty kick but nothing was given.

Sam Byram then hit the crossbar as his header from a corner almost snuck in, while at the other end Anwar El Ghazi flashed a shot just wide.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Alex Tettey thought he had given Norwich the lead but his shot was blocked superbly by Luiz on the line and from the resulting corner Heaton saved Tom Trybull‘s header as Villa survived.

Byram then headed wide at the back post after great work from Max Aarons as Norwich continued to spurn glorious chances.

At the other end Grant Hanley was holding Norwich’s defense together as Villa finally got their act together going forward with Jack Grealish forcing Tim Krul into a save.

Grealish then worked his way into the box and teed up Hourihane who slotted home to send Villa Park wild.

That goal knocked the stuffing out of Norwich as Kortney Hause almost scored a header at the back post.

Norwich did rally late on but Heaton denied them once again as Villa held on for a massive three points even though they were second best for much of the game.

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s post-Emery era; Man Utd host Villa

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features four games, including (but not limited to) the first game of the post-Unai Emery era at Arsenal, Manchester United with a chance to climb into fifth place, and what could be the final game of Marco Silva‘s tenure at Everton.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Arsenal v. Norwich City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal on Friday, making way for the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era to begin on Sunday. With no obvious candidate standing out from all the others, Ljungberg, a long-time favorite as a Gunners player, could be given the chance to impress and have the “interim” tag removed, a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a year ago. After taking just three points from their last five PL games, Arsenal have fallen to ninth place, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea, and could finish the weekend as low as 10th place. On the other hand, a win over 19th-place Norwich would see them climb up to fifth, a point ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, who took the PL by storm with five goals in his first three games, hasn’t found the back of the net since Sept. 14, a run of eight straight goal-less games for the Fininish forward.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Dani Ceballos (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring), David Luiz (ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (foot) | Norwich  — OUT: Alexander Tettey (personal), Grant Hanley (groin), Timm Klose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jamal Lewis (knee), Josip Drmic (hamstring)


Wolves v. Sheffield United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Through 13 games of their debut season in the PL, Sheffield United are threatening to “do a Wolves,” in so much that the newly promoted side currently sits seventh — where Wolves finished last season — following a red-hot start. Following a poor start of their own (zero wins from their first six games), Wolves have rebounded nicely (unbeaten in their last eight, including four wins) and climbed all the way up to sixth (each side sat a place higher coming into the weekend).

INJURIES: Wolves —  OUT: Willy Boly (ankle), Ryan Bennett (groin), Romain Saiss (suspension), Morgan Gibbs-White (back) | Sheffield United  — OUT: None


Man United v. Aston Villa — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Nearly four months into the season, Man United are still without back-to-back PL victories. In fact, they’ve not repeated the same result — win, loss or draw — in consecutive league games all season. The Red Devils ave been, if anything, consistently inconsistent. After drawing Sheffield United 3-3 last time out, the best Solskjaer’s side can do on Sunday is get halfway there ahead of Tottenham’s blockbuster visit, and Jose Mourinho’s return, on Wednesday. United’s injury list remains extensive — and expensive — as Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly remain out, with Nemanja Matic perhaps set to return on Sunday. As for Villa, Dean Smith‘s side snapped a three-game losing skid last time out by thoroughly besting Newcastle United at Villa Park to put four points between themselves and the relegation zone. Following Southampton’s victory on Saturday, that gap is already down to two points.

INJURIES: Man United —  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Nemanja Matic (groin), Scott McTominay (ankle) | Aston Villa  — OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (hip)


Leicester City v. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Every defeat in the coming days could prove to be the final day of Silva’s employment as Everton manager, with the Toffees entering Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium in 17th place. It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (seven) on the season thus far, but the sides to which they’ve lost (Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich, to name most of them) that stands out as most embarrassing for a club that thought it would be competing for the top-six this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have happily and swiftly taken their place as the side most likely to break up the monotony of the same clubs finishing atop the table every season. The Foxes entered the weekend in second place (they have since fallen to second), eight points back of Liverpool (now 11), on the back of five straight league victories. Jamie Vardy‘s 12 goals have garnered most of the headlines, but the play-making duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been arguably more enjoyable to watch

INJURIES: Leicester —  OUT: Matty James (achilles) | Everton  — OUT: Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (knock), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Bernard (knee)