Tommy Elphick

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John Terry named Aston Villa captain

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Former Chelsea defender John Terry has been named captain of Aston Villa in his first season at Villa Park.

The club confirmed Terry’s elite status in a social media post, saying he would wear the armband in their friendly today against Shrewsbury Town. Terry replaces former captains James Chester and Tommy Elphick as the man to lead the team out of the tunnel.

The 36-year-old signed on this summer on a free transfer from Chelsea at the expiry of his contract. Terry served as the Chelsea captain for 13 years, first being named as such by Jose Mourinho in 2004. He was also the captain of England for most of his nine-year international career.

While it’s incredibly unusual for a new player to come to a club and immediately be handed the armband, John Terry is clearly the exception to the rule, as one of the most experienced captains active in world soccer.

Last season featured a similar situation for Villa. Elphick began the year as the club captain, having just signed from Bournemouth that summer. The 29-year-old, however, lost his place in the starting lineup after an injury and Villa’s poor start to the season. Fellow new signing Chester took the armband with Elphick out of the side, and captained the club from mid-October on.

Aston Villa finished 13th in the Championship last season, and will be looking for a return to the Premier League yet again following relegation two seasons ago.

WATCH: Freak Huddersfield goal denies Aston Villa victory, Leeds scores late on bike

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Ross McCormack picked up his first goal for new club Aston Villa as the storied English club looks to bounce straight back to the Premier League following last season’s relegation.

None of that mattered, however, as a totally freak goal in the 86th minute denied Villa its second win of the young Championship season and left the home supporters aghast at the 1-1 draw at Villa Park.

With McCormack’s 25th minute goal the difference for the entirety of the second half, Huddersfield hoofed a long-ball for substitute Michael Hefele. Villa defender Tommy Elphick knew the kick was soaring well over its target, so he let the ball go over his head and settle to goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini. However, Gollini hacked at the ball and it deflected off a charging Hefele, deflecting off the German defender and traveled 30 yards into the empty Villa net.

The result was a 1-1 draw that saw Villa fail to pull just a point back of three teams atop the Championship table. Instead, they’re stuck with just four points through three matches, not a pace that will see them promoted at season’s end. There’s loads of soccer left to play, and Villa seem to be one of the stronger sides in the Champoinship this season, but instead supporters were left with an empty feeling on Tuesday.

That wasn’t the only dramatic equalizer in the Championship today. With Fulham on two wins in two thus far, the Whites traveled to Elland Road to take on Leeds United and ran the show, hitting the woodwork three times and finally grabbing a lead thanks to a Tom Cairney curler in the 77th minute. Then, substitute Chris Wood produced a dramatic overhead kick two minutes deep in stoppage time that sent the home fans into a frenzy.

The Championship is both an exciting and emotionally dangerous place. Watch at your own risk.

Bournemouth 1-1 West Bromwich Albion: Spoils split in the South

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  • Rondon heads home early
  • Gardner misses PK
  • Ritchie snares equalizer

Salomon Rondon and Matt Ritchie traded goals as West Brom and Bournemouth split the spoils 1-1 at Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

The sides end the day level on points with 42, the Baggies ahead and in 15th place by six goals of differential.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors took the lead early, when Rondon rose to head home past Boruc and give the Baggies an advantage.

It should’ve been two-nil before halftime, but West Brom’s troubles from the spot continued after Tommy Elphick took down Gareth McAuley. Craig Gardner stepped up to the spot, but Boruc saved his attempt off the bar and then took care of the rebound as well. Still 1-0.

It stayed that way until Steve Cook‘s long throw made its way to Ritchie, who tied the score with less than 10 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea: Vintage Fabregas performance leads Blues

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  • Fabregas with 2 assists
  • Chelsea into 9th
  • Cherries in 13th with 41 pts

Eden Hazard broke his season-long duck, Pedro and Willian scored Saturday as Chelsea picked up three points from Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

Tommy Elphick scored the Cherries’ goal in a 4-1 home defeat.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea broke through within the first six minutes, as Cesc Fabregas found Pedro’s brilliant run down the right for an ex-Barcelona connection that finished with the forward popping the ball past Artur Boruc.

Steve Cook really should’ve put a bid Asmir Begovic rebound home for an equalizer, but belted over the goal.

Again the Cherries looked ready to equalize when Lewis Grabban turned a header across goal… but it went all the way across goal and out of bounds.

That’s when Hazard made it 2-0 with his first Premier League goal of the season. It was a good-looking goal, too, as Hazard cut into the 18 before finishing low.

But hold on! Bournemouth captain Elphick rose high to make sure the Cherries’ third good chance found the back of the net, his header bounding off the grass and by a sliding Begovic.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Willian made it 3-1 in the 71st minute, moments after Hazard made it clear Chelsea was knocked on the door. Fabregas found the Brazilian running down the right, and Willian chipped it past Boruc.

Nemanja Matic set up Hazard for his second with a cutback pass right at the outset of stoppage time.

Premier League preview: Chelsea vs. Bournemouth

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  • Terry, Ramires both out for Chelsea
  • Injury crisis ongoing for Bournemouth
  • Even a win won’t put Chelsea into Premier League’s top half this weekend
  • 14th (15 points) vs. 18th (10 points) in the PL

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14th-place Chelsea, who are currently only five points clear of the relegation zone, welcome 18th-place Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge, where the Cherries will be in search of their very first away win over the west London side (two previous tries, two losses – 1989 and 1994).

You can watch Saturday’s match live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

Chelsea will be without captain John Terry (ankle) and midfielder Ramires (knock) for the fixture, with embattled manager Jose Mourinho likely opting for 21-year-old Kurt Zouma at center back and struggling Nemanja Matic in the deepest part of midfield. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expected to make his return after missing three months with a knee injury. Diego Costa, who was dropped to the bench last weekend, is also expected to return to the starting lineup. Midfielder Eden Hazard started as the Blues’ quasi-center forward last weekend. Chelsea have just one win (Norwich City) in their last five league games, which include three losses (West Ham United, Liverpool and Stoke) and one draw (Tottenham Hotspur).

[ MORE: Courtois could return vs. Bournemouth; Costa to start? ]

Already out with long-term injuries are forwards Callum Wilson and Max Gradel, and club-record signing, defender Tyrone Mings. Additionally, goalkeepers Adam Federici (ankle) and Artur Boruc (knee), defenders Tommy Elphick (ankle) and Steve Cook (knock), midfielders Harry Arter (hamstring) and Mark Pugh (achilles), and forward Lee Tomlin (groin) are all in various levels of doubt for Saturday. It’s been nearly three months since Eddie Howe‘s side last won in the league (Sept. 19, versus Sunderland), and a visit to the reigning champions, no matter the level of turmoil in which they find themselves, is far from what the doctor ordered. The Cherries do have some reason to be hopeful, though, as draws away to Swansea (2-2) and home to Everton (3-3) in back-to-back weeks show they can attack like a Premier League side, even if they can’t defend like one.

What they’re saying

Mourinho, on righting the ship at Chelsea: “We hope the bad run is behind us now,’ the manager said. ‘I have to be cautious and you don’t know what is waiting for you around the corner. The reality is the run was really bad but we were very strong as a club – the technical staff and the squad of players – to cope with that and try to get over it. We started doing that with bad results but good performances. We kept our faith, our stability, and our belief. Finally last week we got three positive results in a row and let’s try to build on that. This month of December can be a good month.”

Howe, on the dramatic draw with Everton: “You hope a result like that can really boost the confidence and the belief of the players – it certainly helps to build momentum. What we are looking to do now is to turn those performances into wins, and hopefully a game like Everton can be the catalyst for that.”

Prediction

At some point everything has to click for Chelsea and start going their way, right? Right? Right? We’ve been asking this very question for weeks now, and though the results haven’t been great the last month, they’ve looked much more of a unit rather than individuals. An injury-riddled defense like Bournemouth will be a welcome sight on Saturday — particularly for Costa. Chelsea 3-1 Bournemouth.