Jack Grealish

Vardy, Iheanacho power 4-star Foxes past Villa

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Kelechi Iheanacho again collected a goal and an assist and Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester City punished Aston Villa in an entertaining 4-1 at Villa Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jonny Evans also scored for the Foxes, who maintain their place eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jack Grealish scored for Aston Villa, which stays ahead of 18th place on Southampton on goal differential.

Leicester City hosts Liverpool on Boxing Day, a date to circle on the calendar.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho emergence a new wrinkle: Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho was always lurking as a possible star during his time at Man City, but couldn’t break through and transferred to the King Power Stadium. Life hadn’t been easy at his new home, but a goal and an assist in consecutive Premier League fixtures can make a difference as Leicester hopes to challenge Liverpool. Resting Jamie Vardy on occasion without a big drop-off would be a potentially monumental development.

2. Vardy’s party a record bash: The 15th and 16th goals of Vardy’s PL run put him on pace for 38. That would be six better than Mohamed Salah‘s 38-game record and four better than the 42-game mark shared by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Even when he makes mistakes, he finishes.

3. Hobbled Mings a big worry: Villa star center back Tyrone Mings pulled up with an injury but attempted to fight through it. Full credit to him, as he’s been the easy star of the newly-promoted side’s start to life in the Premier League, but an absence or step back from the block and clearance machine will be a major blow to Dean Smith‘s side.

Man of the Match: It’s between Vardy and Iheanacho — James Maddison was also good — and we’ll choose Vardy because we gave it to Iheanacho at midweek.


Kelechi Iheanacho slipped Vardy through on goal, and the Foxes striker nearly blew his chance despite dribbling the keeper.

Ezri Konsa would’ve liked to challenge Vardy following the unusual mis-touch, but the defender was felled by his own sliding keeper.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

After Anwar El Ghazi just missed a promising bid to equalize, Villa’s Bjorn Engels slid to break up a Vardy pass to a wide open Iheanacho.

The Nigerian got his goal in the 41st, a James Maddison cross deflected goal ward and off his leg for 2-0.

Grealish bounced a shot through traffic and inside the far post after Vardy couldn’t clear a corner kick.

Leicester needed less than four second half minutes to restore its two-goal advantage, the unmarked Evans perfectly placing a back post header across goal off a corner kick.

Rodri, Jesus lead Man City to easy win

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Gabriel Jesus got Manchester City back in the win column ahead of a weekend derby, as the reigning champions scored a professional 4-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Riyad Mahrez scored his 50th Premier League goal and Rodri also scored for City, who became the third team to break the 30-point marker and joins Leicester City on 32. Man City hosts Manchester United at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Robbie Brady scored in the 89th minute to ruin the clean sheet. Burnley dips into 11th with 18 points, six clear of the Bottom Three. The Clarets visit Spurs on Saturday.


Three things

1. Gabby goes good: Manchester City’s second league match without Sergio Aguero went much better than the first, and the 22-year-old Jesus deserves all the credit. Both of his goals were clinical finishes, the first a beauty from just inside the 18 and the second a thumping, leaping volley of a Bernardo Silva pass. His fourth and fifth goals helped City ease to the win ahead of an intense weekend derby.

2. Rodri’s pile pildriver seals the deal: The Spaniard’s second Premier League was a scorcher of the hottest quality. David Silva‘s shot was blocked onto the path of Rodri, who hit a volley past a flying, splayed Pope. We’re not sure his hand would’ve held up to the pressure of this incredible rip.

3. Feast of famine Clarets fail to give it a go: Sean Dyche set up negatively and mostly limited damage, but the home crowd will have been hoping for something more from a side which has either been strong or miserable for the better part of a month. Burnley’s last five fixtures have ended multiple goals to nil: 3-0 losses to City and Sheffield United, a 2-0 defeat versus Palace, and 3-0 beatings of Watford and West Ham.

Man of the Match: Rodri — Aside from the blazing goal, Rodri completed 90 of 99 passes while winning four aerials and three tackles.


It comes as little surprise that City controlled the early stages, and had the ball in the goal only to see a flag rightly raised when an offside Gabriel Jesus redirected an Angelino drive past Nick Pope.

Jesus would break through in the 24th minute, swirling a shot around Pope which looked an awful lot like Jack Grealish‘s marvelous goal versus Manchester United this weekend.

Pope continues to shine at Turf Moor, and made a strong leg save to deny Bernardo Silva before halftime, one of several interventions in the frame.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jesus again got the better of Pope when Kevin De Bruyne played Bernardo on the right of the box. The Portuguese sent a cross to the back post that a leaping Jesus smashed into the goal for 2-0.

Dwight McNeil ripped a free kick on frame that Ederson collected in the 61st minute.

Rodri’s rocket goal was joining by a savvy strike from Mahrez in the 87th minute, Phil Foden laying off to the Algerian for a dribble to the top of 18 and drive past Pope.

Brady denied City its clean sheet when he ran onto a loose ball at the back post in the 89th.

How long is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s leash?

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Since the dismal 1988/89 season when Manchester United finished 11th, no manager has ushered in fewer points through the season’s first 14 matches than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this campaign, with the Red Devils held again on Sunday to a 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Aston Villa.

Not David Moyes, not Louis Van Gaal, not Jose Mourinho.

That does not tell the whole story – far from it. Manchester United is in the midst of a rebuild that has not gone as smoothly as Chelsea’s youth movement, but for all the bumps in the road it has not felt as chaotic as Arsenal’s train wreck, despite the Gunners sitting a spot higher.

Still, you are what the table says you are, and right now the table has spoken: Manchester United is the ninth-best team in the league.

Ole Gunnar Solakjaer’s sheer numbers are just as ugly. He has a 27% win rate as a permanent manager in the Premier League, having emerged victorious in just six out of 21 league matches since signing on permanently on March 28. In contrast, the now-fired Unai Emery retained a 47% mark during his time at Arsenal. Even with his spectacular start during the caretaker manager days, Solskjaer has won under 50% of his matches in charge of Manchester United (24 wins, 14 losses, 12 draws in 50 matches – an 84-point haul over that span).

In a league environment that often sees clubs shoot managers first and ask questions later, patience can be a virtue, but it can also be a club’s undoing, and the fine line between those two parallel universes is often as blurry as . The manager in that 1988/89 season was Sir Alex Ferguson, amidst his third year in charge. Thanks in large part to what he achieved after to Manchester United stayed its hand, there is no way he would have survived that kind of lost campaign in this climate.

There are a host of sharks circling, and the allure of returning Manchester United to glory would be enough to lure any top manager should the board make a move. Carlo Ancelotti is running out of time at Napoli and could be available. Massimiliano Allegri is available, as is Mauricio Pochettino, who the Manchester United board has reportedly coveted for years.  A number of up-and-coming Premier League managers like Nuno Espirito Santo and Dean Smith could be options, and Manchester United may not want to wait for Arsenal to get its pick first.

All is not lost for Manchester United this season, and xG metrics seem to suggest an eventual turnaround. Their -3.92 xG differential to actual goals scored is third-worst in the Premier League, indicating the offense should come around. To go along with that, their defense has been fantastic, owning the 2nd-best xGA in the league, and their +3.04 xGA differential to actual goals conceded is sixth-worst in the league. Daniel James, despite a poor performance against Villa, has been a positive addition this season, and Fred has improved in midfield under Solskjaer. Harry Maguire looks worth every penny spent this offseason, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka has quietly been one of the better Premier League values of the summer.

Solskjaer has to this point avoided the off-field blights that eventually spelled disaster for Emery at Arsenal, but the results are no longer an anomaly – they have become the norm. Along with that, Solskjaer’s notable calm demeanor may be having an adverse effect on the club; he himself claimed that Jack Grealish‘s goal in the Villa draw “knocked us a little emotionally,” a mental frailty never present during Ferguson’s best days.

The Norwegian said after the Villa draw that he’s not looking at league position. “I wouldn’t have sat here and talked about us being fifth if we had got that one goal extra, so the league table at this point is not the biggest concern because it is so tight. I just need to make sure that we get performances and get three or four performances after each other – and results.”

He should start worrying about league position soon, because while it doesn’t feel like the wheels have fallen off the OleMobile just yet, the optics are looking less and less savory. Manchester United stuck with Sir Alex back when the going got tough, but these are entirely different times. As the season slips away, where is the point of no return? When is enough, enough?

Villa comes back to draw Man United

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Manchester United came back from an early deficit to lead against Aston Villa, only to toss away the win in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Aston Villa took a point off United at Old Trafford for the first time since a 1-0 win on Dec. 12, 2009, almost exactly 10 years ago.

Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings scored for Villa, who rise into 15th with 15 points, while United’s 18th point leaves it ninth.

Tom Heaton‘s own goal was United’s first marker, Victor Lindelof its second.


Three things we learned

1. Captain Grealish scores sensational opener: Anwar El Ghazi got off a cross despite his knee buckling, and Grealish collected the ball to the left of the United box. Cutting free of Andreas Pereira to open up space, the Englishman curled an aesthetically-pleasing effort just inside the far post, leaving David De Gea helpless.

The marker is Grealish’s fifth to go with five assists in 14 appearances for Villa this season, and his 20th senior goal for his boyhood club.

2. Corner kick routines lead to United goals: Both of United’s goals were set up by corners played short and then sent into the mix. The first was Andreas Pereira making amends for his role in Villa’s opener by sending a pinpoint cross to the back post for Rashford on what would become a Heaton own goal, while Lindelof was at the back post to nestle a header into the same part of the next as Grealish’s first half sensation.

3. Mings punishes United’s advanced back line: Villa’s equalizer came off a corner kick routine of its own, as the United back line pushed high up into own 18 only to see Mings time his run perfectly for one of those chances where most are imagining the player “must be off.” Instead, the English defender thumped Targett’s cross past De Gea for 2-2.

Man of the Match: There wasn’t a true star in this one, so we’ll credit Grealish for his marvelous goal.


Both sides hit the frame on the day, Rashford and Trezequet the causes.

Villa took its lead through Grealish’s wondrous opener, though El Ghazi had to leave the match with an injury suffered on the cross.

Rashford made it 1-1 before halftime on a corner kick routine swept to the back post by Pereira.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

United called for two penalties in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but both weren’t legit.

Heaton denied a vicious Aaron Wan-Bissaka shot set up by Fred, and United took the lead on the ensuing corner kick when Lindelof scored his second goal in 84 club appearances.

The lead lasted a minute, as Mings rose to finish Matt Targett‘s chopped cross over the United back line.

A chaotic sequence in the 78th saw Martial chip Heaton and the cross bar.

WATCH: Grealish scores impossibly cool wonder goal v. Man Utd

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Jack Grealish scored an impossibly cool goal to give Aston Villa an early lead over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Villa captain, 24, arrived inside the left side of the box to collect an Anwar El Ghazi cross and saw United midfielder Andreas Pereira give him some room.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Villa | Leicester-Everton ]

Grealish then coolly zipped a shot across the box and just inside the far post, disarming Red Devils goalkeeper David De Gea to make it 1-0.

It’s his fifth goal to go with five assists in 14 appearances for Villa this season, and his 20th senior goal for his boyhood club.

El Ghazi was injured on the play and tried to go on, but subbed off in the 17th minute.