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Aston Villa smashes Norwich City in 5-star win

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Aston Villa climbed out of the bottom three and sank Norwich City into it during a 5-1 defeat of the Canaries at Carrow Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wesley scored a pair of first half goals, and Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane, and Douglas Luiz also got on the sheet in the big win.

Josip Drmic‘s stoppage time goal ruined Tom Heaton‘s clean sheet in a game with 44 total shots (22 to Villa).

Norwich has six points and sits 18th. Villa has eight and is up to 14th.


Three things we learned

1. The Villans will feel richly rewarded. Will they roll on? Perhaps no side has been less rewarded for performance this season than Smith’s men, including the remarkably silly officials’ decision at the end of the Crystal Palace match. The only shame is that Villa Park was unable to appreciate the moment.

Now can the Villa team feel a little unshackled, with their points meeting their performance for just a second time this season?

2. Mings the man early: Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings has consistently delivered for the newly-promoted side this season, beginning on Opening Day when he blocked every shot on Earth. He didn’t have a great second half at Carrow Road, but don’t sleep on what he did when the game was still in the balance.

Known before his time at Villa for being a big money buy with as many shocking tackles and injuries as good moments, Dean Smith has turned the center back into an England regular. And he is delivering, making an amazing recovery to stop a deflected effort from leveling the score at 1 shortly after Wesley put Villa in front, and then stopping Buendia’s rip in the 28th.

3. Shades of Benteke from Villa’s new big man: Remember for a moment that the Christian Benteke we saw at Aston Villa was unplayable at at times. Now a big Brazilian is conjuring up memories of the powerful yet deft Belgian, as Wesley scored his third and fourth goals of his Premier League career. The second was nothing special, just a center forward in the right place for a cutback, but the first showed the patience to not launch into a low header.

Man of the Match: 


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Stiepermann’s long dribble looked set for a lay-off to Teemu Pukki, who started the move, but the former Borussia Dortmund man took a shot which deflected onto goal.

He’d take another chance off a corner kick, and end up with three attempts when the sequence ended without a goal. Aston Villa had taken the first three shots, Stiepermann the next three.

Wesley’s chest trap and clever finish of a cross onto the doorstep was a deserved opener for the Brazilian big man, who is recalling the early days of former Villa man Christian Benteke.

In-form Tyrone Mings that made a terrific goal line clearances to keep it 1-0 as Norwich threatened the goal.

Anwar El Ghazi missed a clean bid to make it a two-goal lead with a header off the bar, and John McGinn curled a beauty just wide of the far post after fine work in the 27th minute.

Kenny McLean then caught Conor Hourihane’s run into the box to set up Wesley for a hat trick bid, but McGovern made a pair of saves after a slow run-up from the Brazilian.

The floodgates still opened after that, and Villa rightly deserved the three points.

Top Premier League storylines: Week 8

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Week 8 of the 2019-20 Premier League season is upon us, quickly before the second-to-last international break of the calendar year.

[ EUROPA LEAGUE: Man United held to 0-0, Wolves win | Arsenal run rampant ]

Beyond the obvious and evergreen — which one of Liverpool and Manchester City will slip up next? — here’s what to keep an eye on this weekend…


If Leicester can beat Liverpool, they’re really real 

  • Liverpool v. Leicester City, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

There’s no doubt about which side has been the PL’s surprise performer through seven weeks: it’s third-place Leicester. Thus far, the Foxes’ biggest victory came against a struggling Tottenham Hotspur. A victory over unbeaten and perfect Liverpool, at Anfield? Now, that would be a massive statement and a real signal of intent. Throw in the fact that Brendan Rodgers is set to return to Anfield for the first time since departing as Liverpool manager in 2015, and this is easily the most intriguing game of the weekend.


Does it get worse (again) for Man United?

  • Newcastle United v. Manchester United, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Three wins from 10 games (all competitions), including just two in the PL, to start the season: it’s just not good enough for Man United, is it? Teams that United have failed to beat already: Wolves, Southampton and West Ham, among others. Add Newcastle to the list? Any other time, it would be unthinkable to consider it, but these aren’t Sir Alex Ferguson‘s Red Devils, so why not? Newcastle, however, sit 19th and have even fewer wins in the PL (one). Something has to give, probably.


Pulisic to play?

  • Southampton v. Chelsea, Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Christian Pulisic has made exactly one appearance for Chelsea — a 90-minute shift in the Blues’ 7-1 victory over League Two side Grimsby Town in the League Cup — since the start of September. Since making three starts and on substitute appearance in Chelsea’s first four PL games of the season, hardly a sniff of first-team action for the 21-year-old American. He wasn’t even in the team to face Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday. At best, there’s a small disconnect between Pulisic and manager Frank Lampard. At worst, Lampard doesn’t rate him whatsoever and won’t be giving him any opportunities anytime soon. Sunday’s clash with Southampton — Chelsea’s fifth game in 14 days — is as good of a chance as any for Pulisic to play, even if it’s only down to squad rotation.


Newly promoted and already up against it

  • Norwich City v. Aston Villa, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Norwich and Villa were promoted to the PL together, now they appear set to battle relegation together — perhaps against one another. We’re only seven games into the season, but they have just three wins between them and enter the weekend 17th and 18th in the PL table, respectively.

Crystal Palace beat battling Norwich

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Crystal Palace beat a spirited Norwich City side 2-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday, as goals in each half from Luka Milivojevic and Andros Townsend did the damage.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Without several injured played Norwich made it tough for Palace, but Roy Hodgson‘s side had a little more quality when it mattered most.

With the win Palace move on to 11 points for the season, while Norwich have six.


3 things we learned 

1. Eagles fly out of the traps: Roy Hodgson’s men came flying out of the traps and set the tone for this win. They are up to ninth in the PL table and have won three of their first seven games. That is a very good return for a team many thought would struggle after losing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and almost seeing Zaha follow him out of the door. Palace are solid and if they can stay lucky with injuries they will be pushing for a top 10 finish.

2. Injuries hitting Norwich hard: When Michael McGovern, third-choice goalkeeper, is coming on early in the second half you know Norwich have problems. Daniel Farke‘s men have been hit hard by injuries and this is holding them back. They were brave and both Pukki and Cantwell went close to scoring in the first half, but couldn’t

3. Zaha back to his best: Wilfried Zaha had a tough summer and didn’t end up leaving Palace, but he finally looks ready to step up and lead the Eagles up the table. Zaha was a constant threat against Norwich and set up Townsend for the second goal with his tireless running. Zaha was our  Man of the Match and when he plays this well, Palace can match anyone in the PL.


Wilfried Zaha was causing all kinds of problems out on the right flank as Norwich struggled to cope with his trickery and pace.

Ralf Fahrmann then saved from Jordan Ayew as the Eagles came flying out of the traps.

A real moment of controversy then arrived as VAR checked a penalty decision from Jon Moss.

James McArthur turned in the box and was brought down by a sliding challenge from Ibrahim Amadou, as a VAR check confirmed Moss’ decision.

Milivojevic, so reliable from the spot, slammed home the penalty kick into the top corner to put Palace ahead.

Moments after the penalty was scored Fahrmann had to come off and Norwich were down to third-choice goalkeeper, Northern Ireland international Michael McGovern.

Teemu Pukki broke free after a long ball forward and his powerful shot from a tight angle was tipped over by Vicente Guaita. Norwich were almost level just before the break as Todd Cantwell was found in the box but Martin Kelly slid in and blocked his goalbound shot on the line. Marco Stiepermann almost picked out Pukki as the Canaries improved drastically following a shaky start.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Norwich had a few chances on the break and hung into the game until late on.

Zaha’s runs down the left were causing big problems and he weaved past several defenders before setting up Townsend for the clincher in stoppage time.

2-0 win at home. Zaha dazzling.

Textbook Palace.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Brighton, Tottenham v. Saints headline 10am ET games

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Six Premier League games take center stage at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, as potential upsets are the focus.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Two bigs boys are in action as Tottenham host Southampton and Chelsea host Brighton, while Norwich head to Palace, Burnley travel to Aston Villa, Bournemouth host West Ham and Wolves and Watford clash at Molineux.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the six games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Chelsea v. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Aston Villa v. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace v. Norwich City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Wood brace sees Burnley past Norwich City

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Chris Wood scored a pair of early goals as Burnley punished Norwich City 2-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Clarets rise seventh with eight points, while Norwich City has six points and will finish the weekend on the outskirts of the relegation zone.


Three things we learned

1. Wood comes good: Chris Wood entered the match with zero goals through five matches after scoring 10 in each of his first two Premier League campaigns with the Clarets. He’s got two now, using his noggin and boot to score a pair of typical Chris Wood goals. Very encouraging for the Kiwi striker, and his coach Sean Dyche.

2. Canaries defense undone: The many injuries to Norwich City’s back line have been well-documented, and the club would have the league’s worst goal conceded total were it not for Watford’s abject display at Man City on Saturday. Teemu Pukki and the win over Man City are great stories, but these are the concession numbers for Norwich over six matches: 4, 1, 3, 2, 2, 2. The one is lowly Newcastle.

3. Pope delivers a clean sheet: Twenty-seven year old Nick Pope isn’t even the first Nick Pope that shows up in a Google search, but he’s proven two England goalkeepers second-best in his time at Burnley. There wasn’t a lot for Pope to do, but his early save on Teemu Pukki is not something to be overlooked from the win.

Man of the Match: It’s Wood, but give a lot of credit to Ashley Westwood. The 29-year-old has been a service machine for Burnley the past two seasons, and also went in for five tackles on Saturday.


What a start.

You were almost putting 1-0 on the board when Teemu Pukki cut his defender to the inside and shot on goal, but Nick Pope made a fine save in the 8th minute.

Burnley went ahead two minutes later through Wood, who was the near post difference maker at the front of a sea of bodies from a corner kick.

 [ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Wood made it 2-0 with another leaping header, the Kiwi finisher putting the defensively-solid Clarets in fine position with 76 minutes to play.