Transfer round-up: Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson signs new deal before Hoffenheim move, Abraham off to Villa

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The immediate futures of two highly-rated English prospects has been finalised, with Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson venturing abroad in search of regular first-team opportunities while Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham has dropped to the league which helped him flourish two years ago… Continue reading

Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa: Citizens thump wounded Lions

Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa: Citizens thump wounded Lions

Goals from Yaya Touré, Raheem Sterling and a Sergio Agüero brace helped restore some much-needed confidence after a forgettable defeat in midweek at Anfield.

Ahead of kick-off, this fixture was billed as a mismatch. In all honesty, it really was. In spite of Manchester City’s troubling inconsistency in the league this term, they’re still in with a shout of winning the Premier League crown come May. Saturday’s vistors, Aston Villa, have the unenvious task of trying to remain in the top flight. Nine points from safety, having only won three league games all season, things look bleak from Remi Garde’s perspective.

So they made the trip to the blue half of Manchester, not expecting much. At the half-time interval, they would’ve been quietly surprised that they were still in with a chance of getting an encouraging result out of the game.

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Aston Villa 0-4 Manchester City: Kelechi the hat-trick hero as Citizens progress to Round Five

Aston Villa 0-4 Manchester City: Kelechi the hat-trick hero as Citizens progress to Round Five

He was cool, calm, collected. Kelechi Iheanacho, helped seal the Citizens’ passage into Round Five of this year’s FA Cup after a well-taken hat-trick at Villa Park against an out-of-sorts Villa side.

Kelechi Iheanacho. Despite finding regular minutes hard to come by in an ever-improving Manchester City side, the talented young Nigerian forward has maintained his aspiration – to keep improving and establish himself in England’s top flight. An admirable attitude, self-belief and undeniable quality were all on-show as the 19-year-old scored a well-taken hat-trick to help seal the Citizens’ passage into this year’s FA Cup Fifth Round.

Remi Garde‘s Aston Villa side were out-of-sorts, and struggled to create much in the final third. But in fairness, the visitors had too much quality for them to deal with sufficiently, and ran out deserved winners at Villa Park.

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Southampton 1-1 Aston Villa: Romeu to the rescue for Saints

Southampton 1-1 Aston Villa: Romeu to the rescue for Saints

Oriol Romeu’s 73rd minute strike ensured Ronald Koeman’s men avoided a fourth consecutive defeat in all competitions – as well as keeping Remi Garde’s wait for a first PL win as Villa manager intact.

It was just the one point for Southampton as they entertained Aston Villa in one of Saturday’s 3pm kick-off’s at St.Mary’s, but could – and probably should – have been all three.

Early team news

The hosts, eager to respond positively after a Cup thrashing by Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side on Wednesday evening, were boosted by the returns of Jose Fonté as well as James Ward-Prowse and previously suspended Graziano Pellé going into the fixture itself.

Maarten Stekelenburg continued in goal, with Jordy Clasie and Shane Long just two of the viable options for Ronald Koeman to choose from the substitutes’ bench.

Chances, but no goals to show for it

Southampton could have found themselves infront with a two-goal cushion, but somehow, the scoreline remained goalless for the majority of the first-half.

Dusan Tadić fired over the crossbar from close-range, after good work down the flank by Sadio Mané to create the opportunity for the Serbian. Then, Tadić created a good chance of his own. His inch-perfect ball curled into the path of Pellé on the run towards goal, but his first-time effort flashed over the woodwork.

Victor Wanyama headed wide at the far post, Mané missed a volley, Fonte saw a goalbound effort cleared off the line by opposition striker Rudy Gestede – Southampton were all over their visitors, the opening goal was inevitable.

Villa snatch undeserved opener

It came in due course, but against the run of play as Villa snatched the lead – on the stroke of halftime no less. Jordan Veretout‘s corner delivery bounced up awkwardly towards the far post, and former Manchester City centre-back Joleon Lescott beat Fonte to the ball, tapping home with ease to break the deadlock in surprising fashion.

Lescott celebrates his finish from close-range as Villa took the lead

Photo: Getty | Undeserved, but he won’t mind! Lescott celebrates his late first-half opener from close-range with Ayew, Sinclair and Sanchez

Going into the interval, So’ton were down and understandably frustrated. They created so many chances, and somehow, they were losing. Virgil van Dijk came close with a headed effort, Wanyama trudged off with a knock whilst substitute Juanmi was lively in the final third, coming ever so close to levelling the scoring.

A well-deserved equaliser – from an unlikely source

It was only a matter of time, and the goal did eventually come from an unlikely source. Ward-Prowse’ corner-kick delivery floated past the defenders near the goalline, but substitute Oriol Romeu, who’d only been on the pitch for ten minutes, reacted quickly to slot home from close-range and give Southampton a deserved equaliser.

The hosts pressed for a late winner, but the tempo of the game itself was overshadowed by plenty of timewasting tactics by the visitors – souring the mood and flow of the game in the dying stages.

Shane Long came on, added another attacking outlet but neither him nor any of his teammates could steal a late winner, despite being the better side on the afternoon.