Anwar El Ghazi

Pesky Burnley twice levels in draw at Aston Villa

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Chris Wood‘s late header gave Burnley its second equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday at Villa Park.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Villa outshot the Clarets, had 60 percent of the ball, and passed it well, too, but Burnley dealt with Dean Smith‘s tactics of sending 27 crosses into the fray.

Jay Rodriguez scored Burnley’s other goal, with Sean Dyche‘s club up to 10th with nine points, while John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi struck as Villa collected a point to sit 18th with five points.


Three things we learned

1. Fine margins again for Villa: Dean Smith’s men have out-performed their meager point total, as Villa’s five points are still Bottom Three. While the late disappointment against Crystal Palace as not their fault, this one was self-inflicted as the Villans lost sight of giant Chris Wood, who might as well have “This is our tactical approach” pressed onto his name plate. Not okay.

2. Dyche’s men never quit: Okay, we knew this. Everyone knows this, but Sean Dyche’s men make you look foolish every time you’re ready to doom Burnley into a relegation race. You keep thinking their Fortune will run out, that graft won’t win the day, and then Wood somehow powers his way to a late equalizer. The Clarets won’t tempt a European place this season, but we’d be silly to think of them as anything other than safe. Sorry in advance for the jinx, Burnley faithful.

3. Burnley’s backs bail out everyone else: Besides Wood’s finish, which didn’t exactly cap an outstanding day, the Clarets again put their back line under the gun. Keeping James Tarkowski is proving to be an outstanding bit of non-business for Burnley, who also got good performances out of fullbacks Matt Lowton and Erik Pieters. Both had assists, including the ex-Villa man Lowton on Wood’s equalizer.

Man of the Match: John McGinn was denied the opening goal when Conor Hourihane was spotted offside by VAR, but the soon-to-be 25-year-old Scot wouldn’t stay off the score sheet in scooping up his third Premier League goal.


McGinn thought he had his third goal early, with Hourihane ruled offside by VAR, but Villa would find the lead when El Ghazi used a cute touch of a Frederic Guibert cross to make it 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Rodriguez found the equalizer off an Erik Pieters’ cross, getting his first goal in the Premier League for Burnley. It was his 34th goal in the top flight.

McGinn got his goal to restore Villa’s lead with a straight-forward finish, but Wood powered down a header off Matthew Lowton‘s finish to deliver 2-2.

Aston Villa, West Ham finish scoreless after Masuaku red

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Arthur Masuaku was sent off in the 67th minute, but that couldn’t save a scoreless dud at Villa Park as Aston Villa and West Ham shared the points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

The two sides combined for just five shots on target as the two played a spotty match with few real chances. According to Opta statistics, there was just one “big chance” created between the two sides through the 90 minutes.

Masuaku was sent off with 23 minutes to go for a second yellow card, a somewhat contentious decision by referee Mike Dean for a somewhat innocuous foul in the attacking half that featured little more than slight contact and a small drag. A frantic three minutes of stoppage time still left the scoreline begging and that was about deserved for the match.

[ JPW’s analysis of the match ]

The result feels double-edged for both sides. West Ham will be happy with its performance after falling a man down but will want more against a newly promoted side, while Aston Villa will pull out of the relegation zone with the point but may be disappointed with how they failed to grab the win after earning the man advantage.


3 things we learned

1. Jack Grealish is fearless: Ok, fine, we didn’t “learn” this – we knew it already – but we sure had it reinforced. While his teammates were headbutting each other, Grealish was out there balling, delivering excellent crosses, one of the only bright spots in an otherwise drab first half. He had two chances created from open play, three completed dribbles, and a bright passing map before the halftime break. After halftime he marauded into the penalty area along the end line to create a chance, and while he had a bad miss late, he was the only one to even attempt to reach the ball as the rest of his team relaxed and let it fly by. He’s a Dustin Pedroia-like player who gives 1000%, and while he may rub some the wrong way, it’s all a necessary sacrifice for the 24-year-old captain.

2.  West Ham absolutely misses Marko ArnautovicFelipe Anderson is a good player and Andriy Yarmolenko can be dangerous in moments, but neither can make up for the consistent spark Marko Arnautovic provided West Ham. Without his presence, this Hammers side had little to offer an Aston Villa defense that keyed on Felipe. Yarmolenko was poor and couldn’t relieve the pressure put on his Brazilian teammate. The Hammers have enjoyed a somewhat positive start to the season, but they will struggle to produce consistent winning spells without some kind of change in the creativity department.

3. Mike Dean is a good referee: At one point after the Masuaku red card, the away fans audibly changed “it’s all about you, it’s all about you, Mike Dean it’s all about you.” It’s understandable given the soft sending off, but overall Mike Dean did a solid job. The Premier League has somewhat lacked consistent referees after the retirement of Mark Clattenburg, and nobody has stepped up as the top English referee in his place. While Mike Dean makes plenty of mistakes and isn’t on the level Clattenburg was, he’s still a good referee, and it showed today. He had firm control of a somewhat chippy match and while the sending off was easy to disagree with, his overall performance was fair.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish


Early on, John McGinn saw the ball in the back of the net with a tidy finish from a tight angle, but the goal was ruled out for an earlier foul on Jack Grealish, who was otherwise bright for Villa throughout the match. Three players were booked in the first half-hour, with referee Mike Dean looking to keep the lid on a chippy match.

The most intense moment of the first half came between teammates as two Aston Villa players got into a heated exchange. Anwar El-Ghazi and Tyrone Mings had a coming together that featured a slight headbutt from the former, but the referee was on hand to break things up before it got any worse, with no punishment dished out.

West Ham held nearly 60% possession through the first half, but could only manage one shot on target in a relatively dull first 45 minutes as the home side defended well. Felipe Anderson was tidy in possession but created little with Arthur Masuaku also popping up in spots going forward.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half, Aston Villa came out with an attacking intent and nearly found a way in on 53 minutes as Grealish got through down the right and delivered a cross parried by Fabianski, which resulted in a shot from distance by McGinn who just missed wide right.

The moment of change came in the 67th minute when Masuaku brought down Ahmed El Mohamady needlessly in the attacking half. It was a relatively innocuous challenge but one Masuaku didn’t need to make. It produced a second yellow for Masuaku and left West Ham down to 10 men for the final 23 minutes.

The game opened up in the final five minutes but nothing came of it. Issa Diop had the defensive moment of the match as he produced a pinpoint tackle on El Ghazi who was in on the break until Diop blocked off the player but also accurately won the ball as the attacker went head-over-heels. Grealish had a bad miss at the death on an excellent delivery from deep, but on replay he was likely just offside anyways and any potential goal would have possibly been pulled out.

Late El Ghazi goal seals Aston Villa victory over Everton

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With three points under their belt and Villa Park rocking like never before, it now feels like Aston Villa are finally back in the Premier League.

Pinned back the majority of the second half, trying to conserve a 1-0 lead, Anwar El Ghazi‘s last-gasp goal sealed the deal for Villa, edging Everton 2-0 on Friday.

Wesley‘s cathartic welcome to the Premier League 21 minutes in gave Dean Smith‘s side the room to breathe, despite being behind the ball the majority of the match.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Four things we learned

1. Certainly not the case last time they featured in the Premier League, Villa now have the luxury of boasting game-changing choices off the bench like El Ghazi, who can come in and finish things off.

2. Three matches in, and the Toffees’ glaring void is a clinical finisher up top. They’ll need to find a solution, sooner rather than later.

3.  In the 30-minute cameo, Alex Iwobi displayed that he can turn out to be a difference-maker for Everton this season, if utilized properly.

4. On a good night, there aren’t many stadiums that roar louder than Villa Park.

Man of the Match

Anwar El Ghazi (Aston Villa) – A last-second goal from the Dutch winger gave Aston Villa their first Premier League victory in more than three years.


Jota, positive for 77 minutes on the right side of the midfield, combined time and time again with Villa right back Frederic Guilbert for the greater good of creating energetic counters. The Spaniard’s first assist of the season came in similar fashion, when Wesley finished off his precise through ball.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Everton, like in the first half, imposed themselves on the home side, dominating control of the ball. A lack of fishing and creativity in the final third, however, complicated things for Marco Silva‘s side. As the clocked ticked, the ingenuity was nowhere to be found.

Shortly after coming on, Iwobi put forward the clearest chance Everton had experienced all night. The substitute’s shot, though, struck post, denying any chances of a brilliant debut by the former Arsenal man.

Villa continued to sit back with its four-man backline and Douglas Luiz right above as the No. 6, while remaining attentive on when to spring forward and take advantage of an unbalanced Everton.

El Ghazi surprised many, riffling a shot from 25 yards out. Pickford, vigilant as ever before, calmly blocked it out of danger.

Right before stoppage time, the Toffees were a couple of feet from walking away from Villa Park with a vital point. Theo Walcott, however, failed to keep his strike leveled, skying the ball well over the bar.

Just minutes later, substitute El-Ghazi showed those watching how to finish, leading Villa to their first Premier League win since 2016.

Aston Villa seal permanent transfer for playoff hero El Ghazi

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Aston Villa have signed Netherlands international Anwat El Ghazi on a permanent transfer after he dazzled during a loan spell in their promotion push last season.

El Ghazi, 24, spent last season on loan from French side Lille and the winger scored in the Championship playoff final as Villa beat Derby County 2-1 at Wembley and were promoted back to the Premier League after a three-season absence.

It is believed the transfer fee for El Ghazi is round $10 million and before a permanent deal had been done, El Ghazi professed his love for Villa: “I love the club and I love the fans. This club is amazing.”

His mixture of pace, trickery and superb crosses made El Ghazi an instant fans favorite at Villa Park and along with Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish he provided plenty of service for on-loan striker and top goalscorer Tammy Abraham.

“Anwar proved to everybody at Wembley how good a player he can be for Aston Villa,” Villa boss Dean Smith said. “He’s ready for the step up to the Premier League and he’s a young player who has an awful lot of potential. It’s now my job and the job of the coaching staff and Anwar himself to fulfil the potential that he undoubtedly has. He’ll be a great addition to the squad for next season.”

El Ghazi came through Ajax’s famed academy but has been a little bit of a late bloomer in his career. He now has the platform to kick on and become a regular in the PL with Villa and his flowing style of play suits Smith’s philosophy, and the players around him, perfectly.

Villa will now be working hard to sign their other loan stars from last season, Abraham, Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Axel Tuanzebe on permanent deals as they aim to keep their exciting young squad together in the top-flight.

WATCH: Ajax striker stuns keeper with plant foot penalty in training

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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With nearly a goal per Eredivisie game, 20-year-old Ajax striker Anwar El Ghazi is feeling it this season.

This was on display at Ajax training this week when the 6-foot-2 Dutchman hit an unusual penalty kick in training.

[ MORE: Sunderland adds big Bayern Munich back Kirchhoff ]

Watch as El Ghazi strides up to the ball and uses what normally would be his plant foot to shock the keeper to a stand still.