Neil Etheridge

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Villa sign Heaton, Marvelous; Bournemouth add Danjuma

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Make that 12 summer signings for Aston Villa, who are having a splendid… sorry, Marvelous time in the transfer market.

Dean Smith’s side have signed goalkeeper Tom Heaton from Burnley for $10 million, while the wonderfully named midfielder Mavelous Nakamba has joined from Club Brugge.

Just marvelous. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop now.

Villa have named signed a brand new starting lineup this summer, and Smith needed to bring in this huge number of players due to a plethora of departures due to contracts ending and loan deals coming to an end. Villa have spent a remarkable $160 million on new players so far this summer. Here’s hoping this is not another Fulham-esque situation…

Speaking about his arrival at Villa Park, Heaton is delighted to bring his experience to a young Villa side.

“There’s momentum here – you could see that from afar. This club got the ball rolling last season and it turned into a huge success story in the second half of the campaign,” Heaton said. “To gain promotion was absolutely brilliant. It’s been a busy window so far – a lot of signings. But it needed to happen with a lot of players having also left the club. The majority of the signings are young, hungry and athletic. It’s a really exciting time for Aston Villa and I’m delighted to be a part of that. Hopefully, I’ll bring a bit of experience to it.”

Heaton should become Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper now, jumping ahead of Jed Steer in the pecking order. The England international will bring a steady head to a new-look and young defensive unit, and Villa have been on the hunt for a goalkeeper for some time. Deals for Neil Etheridge and Jack Butland proved troublesome so Villa turned their attention to Heaton.

As for Marvelous Nakamba, he joins for $13.3 million on a five-year deal and alongside Douglas Luiz he will battle with Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane for a starting spot in midfield.

Nakamba, 25, will join his former Club Brugge teammates Wesley and Bjorn Engels at Villa.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the Premier League – and against the best players in the world in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world. It’s always been a dream for me to play in the Premier League and to be competing against the best players in the world,” Nakamba said. “I will be trying my best, of course – and I will give everything. I give everything for the team every time. That’s who I am. I fight for the team. I care about helping the team. You will see that.”

The Zimbabwe international is a destructive force in central midfield and he will add a little bit of balance to Villa’s engine room given the mercurial attacking talents of Grealish and McGinn. Smith describes him as being “very mobile, very good in possession and he will fit in with our style of play.”


Bournemouth have also been busy in the transfer market as they signed Dutch winger Arnaut Danjuma.

The Dutch winger, 22, has signed from Club Brugge for a fee believed to be $15.7 million and the former PSV Eindhoven and NEC Nijmegen forward will excite Cherries fans.

“Arnaut is another outstanding addition to our squad and I’m delighted that he is an AFC Bournemouth player,” chief executive Neill Blake said. “This is someone we have been tracking for a number of years, who has all the attributes to become a key player for this team. Football is about entertainment and, as a technical, attack-minded player, I’m confident Arnaut will excite our fans and they will enjoy watching him.”

With Danjuma on board, questions will pop up about the future of Ryan Fraser. The Scottish winger has been a real force for Bournemouth over the last two seasons (he scored seven goals and added 14 assists last season) but has just one year left on his current contract. Fraser has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and it is easy to understand why, as only Eden Hazard provided more PL assists than him last season.

Eddie Howe has added young talent to his squad once again this summer with Lloyd Kelly, Jack Stacey and Phillip Billing also arriving.

Bargain buys: Relegated players for Premier League clubs to target

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This season, it was Ben Foster arriving at Watford from West Brom and Xherdan Shaqiri switching from Stoke City to Liverpool.

Before that, it was Harry Maguire from Hull City to Leicester, and Jordan Pickford from Sunderland to Everton. Idrissa Gana Gueye from Aston Villa to Everton before that.

[ MORE: Terriers release Williams, Lossl ]

Yes nearly every year, at least one player from a relegated squad becomes a difference maker of some repute on a safe Premier League side.

So who will it be this year? Here are some candidates, though several may look to help their clubs rebound back to the top flight.

Neil Etheridge, GK, Cardiff City — The PL’s first Filipino player nearly kept the goal-starved Bluebirds in the top flight, somewhat similar to Lukasz Fabianski‘s work at Swans before moving to West Ham. Is there a spot for him somewhere in the top tier?

Philip Billing, CM, Huddersfield Town — The Swiss defensive midfielder averaged 2.7 tackles and two interceptions per game for the Terriers, and is just 22 years old.

Victor Camarasa, MF, Cardiff City — Five goals and four assists for a side that couldn’t find the back of the net shouldn’t be scoff material. At just 24, someone should take a look.

Aaron Mooy, CM, Huddersfield Town — Capable of unleashing a rocket, the former Man City pupil wasn’t as good in year two at the John Smith’s Stadium. Most weren’t.

Callum Paterson, DF, Cardiff City —  Also just 24, the versatile Scot can deputize at defense, midfield, and occasionally forward for his new side.

Ryan Babel, FW, Fulham — The winger may be 32, but did he ever look quite this good on his first run through the Premier League. Five goals and three assists in 16 appearances following a mid-season transfer.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, MF, Fulham — He’s a bit of a card accumulator, but Fulham was better with him than without him. The 23-year-old was also outstanding at Marseille in the Ligue 1 club’s run to last season’s Europa League Final.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, FW, Fulham — He’s now scored and angered defenses on two offense-hungry clubs, and rang up 11 goals while nabbing an almost silly 6.5 aerial wins per match. He’s still only 24.

Cardiff City relegated from Premier League

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  • Cardiff relegated from PL
  • Zaha, Batshuayi, Townsend score for Palace
  • Bluebirds will finish in 18th

Cardiff City’s second season in the Premier League ended the same way as their first: relegation after one season.

Cardiff lost 3-2 to Crystal Palace at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, as the Welsh side are four points from safety with one game to go and Neil Warnock‘s newly-promoted side have joined Fulham and Huddersfield as the three teams who were relegated this season.

With Cardiff’s relegation confirmed, Brighton & Hove Albion are now secured of being in the Premier League for the 2019-20 season.

Wilfried Zaha and Michy Batshuayi scored for Palace, who had handed Cardiff brief hope in the game through Martin Kelly‘s own goal. Then Andros Townsend made it 3-1 before Bobby Reid scored late on to make it 3-2, but that wasn’t enough to save Cardiff.

With the win Palace move on to 46 points for the season, while Cardiff have 31 points and now travel to Manchester United on the final day knowing it will be their last in the top-flight for at least 12 months.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Palace started the game well as Zaha went close and the visitors were soon ahead via their main man. Zaha controlled the ball, cut inside and placed a low finish past Neil Etheridge to put the Eagles 1-0 up as Cardiff’s slow start was punished.

But no sooner had they went behind, Cardiff equalized in bizarre circumstances. Leandro Bacuna whipped a ball into the box which was harmless, but Kelly got his clearance all wrong and shanked the ball into his own net. 1-1. Game on.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Batshuayi then scored to regain the lead for Palace, as he played a one-two with Jordan Ayew and then slotted home to make it 2-1 in a frantic first half.

Moments later James McArthur ran down the right and found Zaha who struck a shot at goal but his effort was blocked by his own player Ayew. At the other end Bruno Manga headed over and then Vicente Guaita made a fine stop to deny Bobby Reid, while Palace then went close again but Neil Etheridge saved bravely.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

In the second half Palace looked dangerous on the counter, as Cardiff pushed forward to try and save themselves from relegation.

The Bluebirds were causing problems from set piece situations and Josh Murphy somehow shanked his effort wide after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing found him at the back post.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Murphy’s shot was blocked and Kenneth Zohore‘s shot was saved by Guaita as Cardiff pushed hard, but that led to Palace scoring another as Townsend’s low strike hit the post and went in to make it 3-1.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had a shot cleared off the line, then Junior Hoilett missed a great chance as the home side threw everything at Crystal Palace to try and keep their hopes of a dramatic survival alive.

Reid curled home to make it 3-2 late on, but that was how the game finished as the Eagles sent the Bluebirds back down to the second-tier.

Fulham win, Cardiff on the brink (video)

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  • Babel scores winner
  • Third-straight win for Fulham
  • Cardiff 3 points from safety, two games to go

Already-relegated Fulham won a third-straight Premier League game with a shutout as they beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Craven Cottage to push their opponents closer to the drop.

Ryan Babel smashed home an incredible strike to win it for Fulham who impressed throughout, while Cardiff sat back and then pummelled the Fulham goal late on but a combination of Sergio Rico making stops and poor finishing saw the Bluebirds lose.

After a third-straight win Fulham move on to 26 points, while Cardiff have 31 points and face Crystal Palace and Manchester United in their final two games of the season. Neil Warnock‘s side will likely have to win both to stay up, and even then it may not be enough.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There was an even start to the game as Sean Morrison went down in the box and appealed for a penalty kick after tussling with Mitrovic.

At the other end Mitrovic was then denied by Neil Etheridge who made a fine save across his goal to deny Fulham’s top goalscorer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A worrying moment then arrived as Denis Odoi was kicked in the face by his own teammate Maxime Le Marchand and appeared to be knocked out instantly. Odoi was down for almost 10 minutes receiving treatment before being carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

After that lengthy break in play Fulham were the better team as Ryan Sessegnon went close.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Mitrovic spurned a glorious chance at the start of the second half as Tom Cariney picked him out, but the Serbian striker fired way over the bar. At the other end Cardiff started to push men forward as Leandro Bacuna slipped at a vital moment.

Late on Cardiff threw themselves at the ball as Joe Bennett denied Joe Bryan with a great last-ditch tackle. Mitrovic curled another effort just over as Fulham looked the more likely to score and then they did.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Babel curled home a magnificent strike to make it 1-0, as his sensational strike from distance was his fourth goal in his last six games. But that strike sprung Cardiff into life as Sergio Rico saved on multiple occasions.

Bennett went close but Rico saved, then Hoilett hit the crossbar and Rico then denied Bennett, Morrison (twice) and Danny Ward who all should have scored.

Somehow Fulham held on for the win which pushed Cardiff closer to relegation.

Who would make a PFA Team of the Year without Top Six teams?

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The PFA Team of the Year was dominated by Manchester City and Liverpool, to no one’s surprise, though which players comprised the team surprised many.

For example, the team may be without the league’s Golden Boot winner.

[ PL PREVIEW: Brighton v. Newcastle ]

Mohamed Salah was left off the team, likely due to his cold form while the players were voting for the peers, and he’d be an easy part of any “The Best of the Rest” list (along with Christian Eriksen, Roberto Firmino, Harry Kane, and Eden Hazard).

But we’ve added another angle, as we’ll make a “Best Outside The Top Six of the Year.” Here is a team to join the PFA Team of the Year.


“No Top Six” Team of the Year

Fabianski (West Ham)

Wan-Bissaka (Palace) – Tarkowski (Burnley) – Duffy (BHA) – Digne (Everton)

Gana Gueye (Everton) – Ndidi (Leicester City)

Felipe (West Ham)- Doucoure (Watford) – Fraser (Bournemouth)

Raul Jimenez (Wolves)

Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s 3.8 tackles per game led all backs, full or center; His 2.4 interceptions per match rate isn’t far off from the leader: Cardiff’s Sol Bamba (who just misses).

Shane Duffy and James Tarkowski lead the league in clearances, and are also 1-2 in blocked shots.

Only Hazard has more assists than Fraser’s 12, tied with Eriksen, who also is Top Two in key passes per game.

And even this list leaves out quality like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joao Moutinho, and Neil Etheridge. Wild.