Jack Grealish

Aston Villa v. Watford match recap and highlights
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Aston Villa scores at the death to beat Watford

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Tyrone Mings scored deep in stoppage time as Aston Villa leapt out of the Bottom Three with a huge 2-1 comeback win over Watford at Villa Park.

Douglas Luiz also scored for Villa, whose 25 points find them in 15th.

Troy Deeney scored for Watford, whose resurgence stalls at 23 points and 19th place.

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American teen Indiana Vassilev again came off the bench for Villa, playing 13 minutes.


Three things we learned

1. Mings continues MVP season: You read all the time about Jack Grealish because the hometown hero and captain is gathering so many great attacking moments for Villa, but Tyrione Mings has been so, so good at the back. His 95th minute winner was deserved after another fine day at the back with 91 touches and a six-for-six record on duels.

2. Don’t get us wrong, Grealish is solid: The Villa captain passed at 86 percent and scooped up four key passes while completing five of eight dribbles. Grealish got stuck into 21 duels, winning 13, and was fouled an absurd seven times.

3. Deeney a villain to the Villans: Troy Deeney has scored 43 Premier League goals, making his career-high six against Aston Villa good for 14 percent of his top-flight outfit. Those six have come in four matches. Four. Adding to the storyline is Deeney’s status as a Birmingham City supporter.

This is a delightful cross from Gerard Deulofeu, too.

Man of the Match: Mings


Watford had less of the ball but took a lead in the 38th minute, Gerard Deulofeu continuing a lively day by assisting a powered Deeney header.

Deulofeu looked to have Abdoulaye Doucoure for a possible second only to go it alone and fire wide of the frame.

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Villa had more of the ball in the first half and nearly all of the danger in the second, but Watford’s calm back line had plenty of blocked crosses and clearances.

The Villans got their just desserts.

Luiz was at the back post to thunder home a loose ball before celebrating with the Villa faithful, and who else but Mings saw a stoppage time winner turn off him and past Ben Foster?

U.S. teen Vassilev makes Premier League debut for Villa

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Look closely at Jack Grealish‘s equalizer for Aston Villa on Saturday and you’ll find an American making a run to create space.

That’s Indiana Vassilev, who made his Premier League debut in the 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

Vassilev, who turns 19 next month, was credited with seven touches in 23 minutes, connecting on 3-of-4 passes.

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The Georgia-born left winger made his FA Cup debut versus Fulham on Jan. 4 and his League Cup debut versus Leicester City on Jan. 8.

He has six goals and two assists in 13 appearances for Villans’ Premier League 2 side.

Aston Villa grab vital point at Brighton

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Injury-hit Aston Villa grabbed a big point at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

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Leandro Trossard gave Brighton a first half lead but Jack Grealish popped up with a second half equalizer to share the points in a fiery encounter at the Amex.

With the draw both teams remained embroiled in a relegation battle as Brighton have 25 points and sit three points ahead of Villa who occupy 18th, the final relegation spot.


3 things we learned

1. Grealish delivers, again: Riddled by injuries, Villa needed their captain to stand tall. He did. Again. Even in recent heavy defeats Grealish has tried to drive Villa on and he has now scored in their tight win at Burnley and grabbed them a point at Brighton. Against relegation rivals, Grealish has delivered for Villa and at 24 years old he conrinues to mature.

2. Brighton let another lead slip: The Seagulls have won just won of their last eight league games and they keep letting leads slip in tight games. Graham Potter‘s side have plenty of the ball and dominate games but just can’t score the second goal to finish teams off. They have only scored more than one goal once in their last seven games and for all of their fine attacking play, Brighton are three points off the bottom because they can’t finish teams off.

3. Relegation battle coming up: Both teams showed why they will be in a relegation battle all season long. Brighton can’t score or finish teams off, while Villa are too reliant on Grealish and have no real attacking options as they rode their luck at Brighton. Potter and Dean Smith are two progressive, young, English coaches but they will be pushed to their limits to keep their teams up this season. They may also have to put their principles of free-flowing, attacking football to one side if they’re going to be managing PL clubs next season.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish – Villa’s main man popped up with the goal which grabbed them a point and he was everywhere. Villa had no central striker once again as they wait to bring someone in during the January window with Wesley out for the season, and Grealish made so many runs forward during the game to try and take the pressure off his team.


Jack Grealish smashed an effort just wide as Villa looked dangerous on the counter without a recognized striker.

The Seagulls then came close to the taking the lead as Bernardo‘s cross found Aaron Mooy and his volley was cleared, eventually, as an almighty scramble ensued.

Aaron Connolly then knocked a low cross just wide as he seemed to be surprised that the ball found him in the six yard box.

Brighton took the lead as Neal Maupay ran towards goal and teed up Trossard who fired home across goal and into the far corner.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Mohamed Trezeguet was denied by Mat Ryan in a rare Villa attack as Brighton were dominating, with young American Indiana Vassilev coming on for his Premier League debut.

Moments later Grealish made it 1-1 as a poor mistake from Brighton saw Douglas Luiz play a long ball over the top and Villa’s skipper slammed home to send the away end wild.

Late on Villa debutant Pepe Reina made a wonderful stop to deny Maupay preserve a point as tempers flared towards and after the final whistle as both sets of players were involved in a huge melee.

Premier League Storylines: Matchweek 23

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The January schedule is filling up, and teams are hoping to navigate the crowded fixture lists with injuries piling up through the winter months. With the FA Cup returning next week and managers hoping to limit minutes as much as possible, this weekend’s games will be critical.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The race for the Champions League spots is heating up, and a number of teams can make serious moves this weekend.

Can Spurs gain ground against the tide? [ STREAM ]

  • Watford v. Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN)

Tottenham doesn’t have Harry Kane. We know that. It’s time for Jose Mourinho to put up or shut up. Spurs haven’t scored in either of their last two Premier League games, and now Mourinho has had the time to figure things out. They now travel to Watford who is running on a high, having won each of their last three league games despite some discipline issues. The Hornets haven’t lost since December 4, which feels like an eternity ago.

Will Arsenal continue to improve under Mikel Arteta? [ STREAM ]

  • Arsenal v. Sheffield United, Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN)

The Gunners have shown real – but slow – improvement under Mikel Arteta. There are still serious flaws, however, and Sheffield United is a team that can take advantage if given the chance. This is a litmus test match for the Gunners, and a win could get them as many as three places in the table. They were held off the scoresheet against the Blades last time around, and could complete their first double over Arsenal since the 40’s. Oh yea, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is out suspended, a massive loss for the Gunners up front.

Can Aston Villa pull themselves out of the relegation zone, and Brighton into it? [ STREAM ]

  • Brighton Hove & Albion v. Aston Villa, Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold)

Aston Villa was pummeled by six Man City goals last time out, and the feeling around Villa Park is one of trepidation. Still, the results are there to give fans some hope, and one this weekend would turn things around completely. Three points on the road at Brighton would draw them level with the Seagulls in the table and give them a huge boost in the crowded relegation battle. Jack Grealish has been a motor for Villa this season, but the critical component in a game like this is the defense, a back line that’s given up 43 goals in 22 matches. Will Brighton punish the Villains at the Amex?

Which Chelsea will show up on Tyneside? [ STREAM ]

  • Newcastle United v. Chelsea, Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Chelsea has been extremely Jeckell & Hyde over the past month, with wins over Arsenal and Spurs but losses to Bournemouth and Southampton and a draw with Brighton. All told, it’s been two months since their last back-to-back wins. Newcastle, meanwhile, put together a draw against a scrappy Wolves side before punishing Rochdale in their FA Cup replay. Christian Pulisic is still injured, but the Blues remain one of the strongest attacking threats in the Premier League. A road loss, however, and the five-point gap to Manchester United could thin considerably.

Can Manchester United put in a shift against Liverpool? [ STREAM ]

  • Liverpool v. Manchester United, Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

What a test for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Defensive problems at key moments have plagued Manchester United this season, and like Chelsea, inconsistencies have proven vital. This game is critical for Solskjaer in the top four race, because a loss risks them falling a significant eight points back of the Champions League places. Still, while the United defense doesn’t instill fear in Premier League opponents, they’ve pulled out solid shifts against good teams this season, like holding both Spurs and Manchester City to a single goal in early December.

Liverpool can afford a few missteps, and Jurgen Klopp has managed his players’ minutes to perfection this campaign. A 14-point lead at the top of the table and a game in hand over Man City means we could see more players rested, and that gives the Red Devils even more hope.

Bonus: Can Pep Guardiola win on his birthday? [ STREAM ]

  • Manchester City v. Crystal Palace, Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold)

No Man City manager has ever won on his birthday. Good luck, Pep!

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Leicester chasing Demiral, Chelsea favorites for Zaha

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With the 2020 January transfer window still just a few days young, there is still much to do as teams identify needs and look for targets that may be available. The winter transfer window often proves difficult with available players few and far between. Still, there are options and some teams are hoping to pry players from their current homes while others hope to cling to important members of the squad.

According to Sky Sports, Leicester City has seen an initial bid of $33.4 million rejected by Juventus for defender Merih Demiral. The 21-year-old Turkish international is a wanted man this winter having appeared just three times this season in Italian league play. The Foxes are in the market for a center-back with 32-year-old Jonny Evans having already racked up 2,159 minutes this season and partner Caglar Soyuncu at just under 1,900.

The Foxes will be facing heavy competition for Demiral’s signature, with Borussia Dortmund reportedly seeing a larger bid rejected as well. The Sky Sports report states that Leicester City actually prefers to bring Demiral in on loan before committing a heavy investment of funds, and they have looked to fellow Turkish international Soyuncu to convince Demiral of life at Leicester City.

A report by The Daily Mail claims that Crystal Palace whiz Wilfried Zaha has made a change in representation that could boost Chelsea’s chances of securing a deal. The report states that Zaha has fired his current agent and hired Israeli agent Pini Zahavi who has a close relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Zahavi was instrumental in Abramovich’s successful acquisition of Chelsea back in 2003 and also was a major player in Chelsea transfer dealings that summer.

Zaha has been an ever-present figure in transfer rumors over the past few seasons, and is reportedly frustrated at his inability to secure a move away from Selhurst Park. The Mail report states Crystal Palace wants a bid of over $100 million for the 26-year-old, but it has seemed their high valuation of Zaha has warded teams off over the last few years. Zaha’s contract runs through the summer of 2023, so the club still has plenty of control over his future.

Sheffield United has impressed this season, proving a difficult opponent for top sides as they sit eighth in the table despite just being promoted this summer. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and while they have scored timely goals to earn results, the offense has lacked at times. That has seen them look for attacking reinforcements, and according to Algerian outlet DZFoot, they have interest in former Marseille frontman Billel Omrani who currently plays in the Romanian top flight for CFR Cluj.

The 26-year-old Omrani has six goals in 16 Romanian top flight games this season, and scored another six in eight Champions League qualifying games as the club was eventually downed by Slavia Prague before the group stages. They now remain in play in the Europa League round of 32, and he recently impressed against Celtic.

Aston Villa is playing hardball with creative star Jack Grealish, and manager Dean Smith went on record to say the club is pushing hard to keep him at Villa Park. Smith admitted there has been heavy interest in the 24-year-old who has eight goals and six assists this Premier League season, but said emphatically, “People can keep looking but they can’t touch. We want to keep our best players and he’s showing he’s one of the best in the Premier League.”