Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City

 Posted by at 2:14 AM
Apr 172016
Sergio Aguero now has 12 goals in his last 12 Premier League games

A Sergio Aguero hat-trick moved Manchester City closer to securing Champions League football next season with victory at 10-man Chelsea.

City profited from slick break-aways, the first goal arriving when Kevin De Bruyne fed Aguero, who fired in.

Again De Bruyne led a clinical counter after the break, finding Samir Nasri, who put Aguero clear to finish smartly.

Thibaut Courtois was sent off for fouling Fernandinho, allowing Aguero to whip home his third from the spot.

Look back on City’s win at Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea were outplayed completely – Guus Hiddink

Chelsea threatened occasionally before the goals but faded and City move third, a point ahead of Arsenal – who have a game in hand – and four clear of Manchester United.

When this fixture was scheduled last year, it seemed unthinkable that only one of these sides – the last two winners of the Premier League – would be battling for a top-four spot.

They have both underachieved, but City at least have targets as the season draws to a close and they were clearly sharper in west London, none more so than Aguero.

The Argentinian has now scored at least 20 goals in three Premier League seasons, a feat only achieved by Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Les Ferdinand.

City’s red-hot duo

Sergio Aguero profited from good work from Kevin De Bruyne for his first two goals

There can be little doubt City’s season has gained a new lease of life in recent weeks and it is notable it has coincided with the return of De Bruyne from a lengthy injury lay-off.

Both he and Samir Nasri drew saves from Courtois in the opening period and it was De Bruyne who always looked likely to turn defence into attack for the away side.

When the Belgian suffered knee-ligament damage in January, City were second in the table, three points behind leaders Leicester. They managed just two wins in seven league games without him and one wonders how close they would be to lifting the title now had he stayed fit.

He has now had a hand in 28 goals this season – scoring 15 and creating 13 – and encouragingly for manager Manuel Pellegrini with a Champions League semi-final to come, his relationship with the clinical Aguero looks sharper than ever.

Aguero, who now has 13 goals in 12 league games, will deservedly make headlines. But in De Bruyne, he once again has a support act boasting pace and guile in abundance. Could it be that the enforced rest through injury has left him fresh to do damage at the business end of the season?

Top four for City?

Chelsea’s central defenders (left) made just a handful of tackles (green) and blocks (yellow), making no interceptions (blue). Man City’s duo of Mangala and Otamendi made far more (right).

Perhaps only a loss of focus in fixtures either side of their two-legged Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid could prove destructive.

But Pellegrini said afterwards that “it is another team” with everyone fit and with the likes of Fabian Delph, Wilfried Bony and Bacary Sagna on the bench, they look to have options for when fixtures mount.

A trip to Southampton comes between the Madrid fixtures, with the visit of Arsenal arriving four days after the second leg.

Captain Vincent Kompany should be fit for fixtures next week and even without him City were solid. Going forward they were blistering when they needed to be and having conceded just two goals in six league games, their base looks solid. Another tilt at Europe looks likely.

Chelsea wait for Conte

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Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini enjoys ‘complete’ performance

Chelsea are seemingly in limbo while they await the arrival of their next manager – Antonio Conte.

Since announcing his appointment on 8 April they have lost both league fixtures, ending a 15-game unbeaten run and also interim manager Guus Hiddink’s proud record of not losing two league games in a row since he was in charge at PSV Eindhoven in 2004.

This wasn’t a performance where the Blues had clearly downed tools – they had an early Pedro effort cleared off the line and Ruben Loftus-Cheek went close twice – it just lacked killer instinct and a desire to finish any good work.

There are questions to be answered at Stamford Bridge. A 10th-straight home game without a clean sheet equals a run set in 1970. But unwanted records aside, just how did a side that eased to the Premier League title last May end up with nothing to play for by this stage of the season?

Will such a collapse lead to a Conte clear out this summer? On this showing, there was an evident gulf in class with a side not even competing for the title.

Courtois’ dismissal summed up a miserable day with fans already on their way to the exits but he could have few complaints having been rounded by Fernandinho.

Man of the match – Sergio Aguero

De Bruyne was excellent but Aguero finished his first two goals coolly before adding a penalty

What the managers said

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: “Chelsea are a difficult situation this season. We managed to get out of the relegation zone but Chelsea need to be in the first four places. We were knocking on the door but we didn’t create open chances. They outplayed us on 60-70 yard counters.

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “I am satisfied with the team, they played well in attacking and defending. When all the players are fit and playing together, it is another team. I wanted revenge for the FA Cup defeat when we played here with a young team and they beat us. Tonight was a complete game.”

The stats you need to know

  • Aguero is the third opposing player to score a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League – the other two were scored by Nwankwo Kanu and Robin van Persie.
  • This was Chelsea’s heaviest home defeat in the Premier League since losing 3-0 to Sunderland in November 2010.
  • Thibaut Courtois is the sixth goalkeeper in Premier League history to receive two red cards in the same season.

Up next?

Chelsea, now playing for just a top-10 finish, go to Bournemouth in a week while Manchester City go to relegation-threatened Newcastle on Tuesday.

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Apr 172016

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Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa: Players are devastated – Eric Black

Aston Villa can bounce back from Premier League relegation, according to caretaker manager Eric Black.

A defeat at Manchester United confirmed the Midlands club will drop into the second tier of English football for the first time since 1987.

“We have players capable of playing in the Championship,” said Black.

“People in certain places will make sure Villa will come back, I’m confident of that and that process has to start now.”

Black, who took over when Villa parted company with Remi Garde as manager in March after the Frenchman’s 147 days in charge, added: “I would like to be part of it.”

Only 18 teams from 67 relegated from the Premier League in 1992-93 have achieved promotion straight back into the top flight.

Villa’s defeat to United was their ninth on the trot in the league in a season punctuated by regular fan protests against the club owner Randy Lerner and criticism of the players.

“The players are devastated,” said Black. “It’s been coming, we know that, but once the realisation that the R (for relegation) is against the side of your team, it is difficult.

“We have to ensure this fantastic football club goes back to where it should be and this never happens again.”

Aston Villa signed defender Joleon Lescott from West Brom in September 2015 for a fee of up to £2m

Aston Villa centre-back Joleon Lescott, who apologised for tweeting a picture of an expensive car after Aston Villa were thrashed by Liverpool in February, called it a “disappointing day”.

“It’s massive. The Premier League is where everyone wants to be, every player and every fan,” said the 33-year-old.

“As a fan myself I’d like to take some of that responsibility. We have four games left, I know it won’t keep us in the league but we still owe the fans a lot.”

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Villa fans’ fury

Villa – one of the worst Premier League sides ever?

Despite their catastrophic season, the 2015-16 Aston Villa crop are not one of the worst two Premier League sides of all time. If they pick up four points in their final five games, they could finish fourth on the all-time worst Premier League teams list.

What next for Villa?

BBC Sport’s Pat Murphy: “You didn’t have to be a latter-day Nostradamus to have seen this coming. For the past six seasons Villa have lurched between five managers and two chief executives – directionless, with no defined strategy as the owner Randy Lerner became more and more detached from the club.

“But make no mistake. Lerner still has the final say on funds until he finds a buyer. The revamped board and creation of a four-man football board is, on that basis, simply cosmetic. Key decisions via the football board chairman David Bernstein will go to the club board chairman Steve Hollis, who then has to look across the Atlantic to be sanctioned. Unwieldy and time-consuming, with the lifeblood of decision-making still coagulating.

“Would traditional managers like David Moyes, Nigel Pearson, Mick McCarthy or Steve Bruce want to be bothered by all that complexity? All they’d want is to establish a direct line with the owner to get decisions made swiftly. The calibre of the next chief executive will be vital, too.

Lerner has been in charge of Aston Villa for the past decade

“The appointment of a new manager is the biggest decision to be made at Villa Park since Graham Taylor breezed in 29 years ago, making it clear to then-chairman Doug Ellis where the boundaries lay. It’s asking an enormous amount of the new man to turn around the squad and playing philosophy inside a couple of months before grim reality sets in with the Championship slog.

“This current group of underachievers would struggle in the 46-game season that starts this August. I would only keep Ciaran Clark (and make him captain), Ashley Westwood, Jordan Ayew, Idrissa Gana, Rudy Gestede, Jack Grealish – and bring along promising youngsters such as Jordan Lyden, Andre Green, Keinan Davis and Lewis Kinsella.

“At least that lot would run around and look as if playing for Aston Villa meant everything to them. You couldn’t say that about this current squad.

“It’s fantasy to assume a revamped Villa squad could challenge for the Championship title at such short notice. A period of sober, humble realism is long overdue at the club. Just stop the rot, then restore pride and stabilise the slump. And hope that Lerner at last sells up. Villa need a constant visible presence there at the top – like a Peter Coates, Bill Kenwright or Jeremy Peace. Or – whisper it gently – a Doug Ellis of yesteryear.”

Here are the Premier League lists that Villa have ‘topped’ this season

  • Fewest goals scored (23). Next worst: West Brom (31) and Watford (32)
  • Goals conceded (65). Next worst: Newcastle (61)
  • Shot conversation rate, excluding blocks (9.1%). Next worst: Crystal Palace: 11.0%
  • Games failed to score in (16). Next worst: Newcastle, Norwich and Watford (13)
  • Games won (3). Next worst: Newcastle and Sunderland (7)
  • Errors leading to goals (14). Next worst: West Ham (13)

Reaction on social media

As their drop into the second tier was confirmed, the term “Villa” became the number one social media trend in the UK, with more than 60,000 tweets shared in an hour around the final whistle.

This image from Birmingham fan Shaun’s Aston Villa relegation party was heavily shared on social media

The Times chief football writer Henry Winter tweeted: “Randy Lerner and some of the players need a long, hard look at themselves. No leadership. No commitment. No easy return either.”

“Sad to see a great club like Aston Villa relegated so apathetically,” tweeted Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker.

Some poked fun at the club while others commended the fact Villa fans were still singing in the away end at Old Trafford despite witnessing the pivotal result.

“Can hardly say Villa’s fans have been put out of their misery by relegation – utterly betrayed by dreadful mismanagement of their club,” tweeted BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty.

Ex-Villa striker Darren Bent is not taking any joy in his former side’s plight
Former Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore pointed out the clubs who have never been relegated from the Premier League

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Apr 172016
Which of these bosses will keep their side in the Premier League?

After Newcastle’s win over Swansea followed Sunderland’s victory at Norwich on Saturday, it is tighter than ever in the Premier League relegation battle.

Sunderland are one point behind Norwich in 17th with a game in hand and Black Cats manager Sam Allardyce says his side “cannot afford to fail any more” with five matches to play.

Newcastle are two points further back after responding to boss Rafael Benitez’s demands for “passion on the pitch” with a 3-0 victory.

Both are chasing a Canaries side who can no longer be concerned about the style and must focus purely on results, according to manager Alex Neil.

After another tense tussle at the Premier League’s trapdoor, this is how the men in charge saw their side’s predicament.

The situation at the bottom of the Premier League

Sunderland allay Allardyce doubts

Sunderland’s win was their first at Carrow Road since March 1985

Allardyce said his side’s fine performance calmed fears he had over his side’s ability to bear up under the scrutiny of a Premier League relegation run-in.

“The position we’ve left ourselves in was making me feel a bit edgy this morning,” he said.

“Will we handle the pressure? Will we cope with the pressure? They’ve answered my questions.

“They’ve coped with the pressure and coped with everything Norwich could throw at them. To come here and win 3-0 is a massive result.”

Listen to Sunderland win at Norwich

Sunderland will overtake Norwich if they avoid defeat at home to Arsenal next Sunday and Allardyce is relishing their improved position in the table.

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Sunderland victory is massive – Allardyce

“If we’d lost we’d have been seven points behind Norwich,” he added.

“Now it’s only one point, a better goal difference and a game in hand. If we can pick up some points next week, then we can rush in and see how everyone else has done.”

The Black Cats’ victory was watched by a travelling contingent who had boarded buses on Wearside at 04:30 BST to get to Carrow Road in time for the 12:45 BST kick-off.

Sunderland must negotiate a run-in that includes matches against Chelsea and Stoke, as well as Arsenal, to ensure a 10th successive season of top-flight football at the Stadium of Light.

‘It is going right to the wire’

Norwich conceded their ninth penalty of the season in defeat by Sunderland

Norwich had distributed paper ‘clappers’ and 3,000 inflatable canaries to their fans in the hope that a positive atmosphere might prove decisive, but Neil warned they may have to “win ugly” to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

“If we’re going to stay up we’re going to have to do it the hard way. It’s about winning games, performance is secondary,” he said.

“We’ve got four games remaining and we need to win at least two.”

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‘Norwich will have to do it the hard way’

Norwich’s next match is in a fortnight against Arsenal and – with Newcastle and Sunderland both playing before them – the Canaries could find themselves in the bottom three by then.

However, midfielder Gary O’Neil says the pressure of the relegation battle can play on Norwich’s rivals as well.

“Today was a terrible result for us. We had the chance to put destiny in our own hands and take a big step towards safety,” he said.

“We are still in front though, they still have to win points and their games are not easy.

“Those two teams are down there because they have not been winning games, same as us. It is going right to the wire.”

Fans believe we can do it – Benitez

Newcastle play Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Tottenham at home before the end of the season

The Magpies are a win away from joining Norwich on 31 points, and victory over Manchester City on Tuesday could even see them move out of the bottom three.

According to Newcastle manager Benitez, the belief has returned.

“Everybody was happy and I think they are now thinking that we can do it and they believe,” said the Spaniard, who picked up his first win since taking over as manager on 11 March.

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Newcastle 3-0 Swansea: Rafael Benitez pleased with Magpies’ passion

“They have this feeling, like all the fans watching the team working as hard as today, everybody thinks we can do it.

“That’s the main thing. As I have said a lot of times, we will fight until the end, but now we are closer and it will be easier for me to give this speech.”

Listen to Newcastle win for the first time under Benitez

Andros Townsend – who scored his third goal of the season in the win over Swansea – believes the St James’ Park support could prove key to keeping his side up.

“It’s massively important to build on this – it’s a make-or-break week. Now on Tuesday [against Manchester City] the fans will be on our side and hopefully it’ll be a great night.

“Having four out of the last six games at home is massive.”

Defender Jamaal Lascelles, who scored the opener, said last week his team-mates needed to show “character, desire and heart” after the 3-1 defeat by Southampton.

The former Nottingham Forest player said the loss gave the side “a kick up the backside”.

“Everyone knows we’ve got the talent, but today we showed how good we are and we stuck to the gameplan.

“I thought I might get stick in the changing room after I had a go at my team-mates. I was going to say it sooner or later. The frustrating thing is we should have been playing like that earlier in the season.”

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Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa

 Posted by at 11:40 PM
Apr 162016
Marcus Rashford scored his fourth league goal of the season

Aston Villa have been relegated to English football’s second tier for the first time since 1987 after defeat at Manchester United.

Marcus Rashford scored the only goal, sweeping Antonio Valencia’s cut-back through goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s legs.

Villa were second best for much of the game, although Rudy Gestede’s volley did hit a post late on.

It was a ninth straight loss for the visitors and left them 15 points from safety with only four matches left.

Relive the action from Old Trafford

Reaction from Saturday’s other Premier League games

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Aston Villa: How club went from Europe to relegation

Does ‘anarchy’ beckon for Villa?

European Cup winners in 1982, Aston Villa have a proud history but are facing a turbulent immediate future.

Caretaker manager Eric Black has spoken of the danger of the club falling into “anarchy” at the end of a miserable campaign played out against the backdrop of fan protests against Randy Lerner’s ownership.

Last time Villa were relegated to the old second division they immediately returned under Graham Taylor and finished second in the top flight the following season.

At Old Trafford they were outplayed for the majority of the game until the introduction of Gestede gave the travelling supporters hope of salvaging something from the day they finally went down.

It was not to be though – and not many of those 1,500 or so supporters will expect their team to be competing in the Champions League by 2018.

Rooney’s return

Victory for United means they keep up the pressure on Manchester City in fourth place.

Rooney was at times forced to drop and pick up the ball in front of his centre-backs as Villa defended deeply. Of his performance Van Gaal said: “He played a very good first half, switched the play a lot of times. In the second half he loses balls because he is tired and the rhythm is still high. When you are two months out it is difficult.”

This was an important win in the race for a Champions League spot, and important too for the return of forward Wayne Rooney, who last played in the Premier League on 13 February.

The England captain was not at his best – one heavy touch on the edge of the box saw a golden chance slip away – but he played his part in a solid all-round performance from Louis van Gaal’s team.

The 18-year-old Rashford – who now has seven goals in 12 United appearances – should have added to his brilliantly taken first but prodded wide under pressure in a bright start to the second half, before Juan Mata could only fire straight at Guzan from a short corner.

Gestede almost drew Villa level when striking the post from a corner with just over five minutes to play, but United winger Memphis Depay was also denied by the post soon after – and United were deserved winners.

What they said

Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black: “It’s a mood of disappointment. What I will say is today I thought [the Villa players] were outstanding – energy levels, desire to stick to the plan.

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Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa: Players are devastated – Eric Black

“But for some misfortune, I thought we could have got a draw. I know there has been criticism – some of it deserved – but today they showed there was some pride for the shirt.

“There are players in there capable of playing in the Championship. People in certain places will make sure that Villa will come back, I’m confident of that. That process has to start now.”

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Man Utd didn’t play well – Van Gaal

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: “We have three points and make some distance from Southampton and West Ham, so the three points are very important. I’m not too happy with the performance. We have to finish the games a lot earlier and today we didn’t do that.

“I have said to the boys before the match that Chelsea can beat Manchester City. City have the problem we had in that they have played this week and Chelsea didn’t so they are more prepared. They can beat them I hope.”

Man of the match – Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Rashford was full of movement throughout and showed a touch of real class for his sweetly taken finish. The home fans gave him a brilliant send-off when Anthony Martial came on to replace him.

The stats you need to know

  • Aston Villa’s relegation is the earliest from the Premier League since Portsmouth were relegated with five games to go in 2009-10.
  • Villa have won none of their past 13 Premier League meetings with Manchester United (W0 D3 L10).
  • In total United have lost just once in their past 41 Premier League matches against Villa (W30 D10 L1).
  • The Red Devils have kept 11 clean sheets in their past 16 Premier League home matches.
  • Aston Villa have won none of their past 16 Premier League away games (D3 L13).

What’s next?

Manchester United play at home to Crystal Palace on Wednesday, while Aston Villa’s next match is on Saturday when they welcome Southampton to Villa Park.

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