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Dean Smith declared that Aston Villa’s 4-1 loss to Leicester was their biggest setback of the season.
Jamie Vardy scored a brace either side of goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans to condemn the hosts to defeat, despite Jack Grealish’s goal.
Smith was frustrated with the way they allowed the game to open up – claiming Leicester didn’t outclass them tactically.
“We were too open and they were clinical,” he admitted to Match of the Day. “It became a basketball game and they were more clinical than we were.
“The lads don’t give up, they kept going. Leicester are a good team, they have confidence but we felt we could have a go.
“There wasn’t much tactics involved, Vardy has gone over the top a couple of times and scored. We have a lot of lessons, we are still growing.
“That is the biggest kick in the teeth and set back we have had.”
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Chris Sutton thinks that Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish would be good signing for Arsenal after his good start to the Premier League season.
Grealish has three goals and four assists in 12 Premier League starts this campaign, including a wonderful strike in Villa’s 2-2 draw against Manchester United at the weekend.
And Sutton thinks the top teams in the Premier League will be sitting up and taking notice of his start to the season with speculation now linking him with United.
“Look, I think people will be scrutinising him closely now,” Sutton told the Metro.
“Last season he was very good in the Championship. I actually think the penny has dropped with him where a couple of seasons ago it was fair to say he was ‘Jack the Lad’ as such.
“You know, he’s captain of Villa now, he’s knuckled down as such. There was always that question mark over him where he was very, very talented on the ball but did he have the application and the work rate?
“He’s shown that this season and I think – obviously it was a brilliant goal the other day at United – eyes were being opened anyway with him and I do think that it’s one of those where if he carries on like he is and does it for a longer period then it’s only a matter of time because he’s always had the talent. Now we’re seeing the application week in week out.
“Which of the top-six teams would he fit into? I suppose it’s a difficult one when you think of the players City have at their disposal, the Silvas, De Bruyne… Arsenal would be the one where you think there’s a vacancy. Tottenham, Dele Alli seems to be having a resurgence.
“I think in many respects with Grealish he just needs to do it for a bit longer and, of course, Gareth Southgate must be watching him and scrutinising him closely. The disadvantage which he has on the likes of James Maddison is that James Maddison has done it for a longer period of time in the Premier League but there’s nothing you can do except sort of say with Grealish is praise him this season.”
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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith believes John Terry’s mentality as a “serial winner” with Chelsea is having a galvanising effect on his players.
Terry spent 20 years at Chelsea before joining Villa, initially as a player in 2017 for a season before switching to coaching, helping the club return to the Premier League under Smith.
During a glorious career with the Blues, Terry won the Champions League, Europa League, five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the League Cup three times.
For the first time since leaving Chelsea, Terry returns to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night on the opposing side, plotting to help Villa boss Smith as his assistant head coach.
“He’ll be excited for it,” said Smith. “He always said he would never go back and play against them, and I’m certainly not going to pick him!
“I’m sure he will get an unbelievable reception from their supporters, and rightly so, after the playing career he had at that football club, and his ties he has.
“He’ll be looking forward to going back, and I’m sure it will be a little bit different for him, but his mind has been solely on helping myself and the rest of my coaching team to try and beat the club he loves.”
Smith believes Terry has had a significant impact with Villa during his time at the club to date.
“He’s very important and I love working with him,” said Smith. “He’s brought something different to our coaching set-up, with his knowledge, his experiences.
“He’s lifted the Premier League title enough times, as well as the FA Cup and the League Cup. He was a serial winner for Chelsea, so he knows how to win things and that mentality can rub off on people.
“I also feel he’s come into his own with us getting promoted into the Premier League. He’s getting better and better as a coach.
“I’ve championed him for a long time, saying he will eventually be a top manager. At the moment he’s very keen to keep learning and making a major contribution to Aston Villa, certainly on the coaching pitches.”
Smith is naturally hoping Terry will continue to learn for as long as possible before making the inevitable move into management.
“We’ve a good enough and an open enough relationship for him to come to me at any time,” added Smith.
“I don’t expect it in the meantime because he’s enjoying the job so much at the moment, and the important thing is he feels he’s still learning as well.
“He has a thirst for learning, a real growth mindset, which I really like to see in people. He is always asking me questions about why I make certain decisions.”
Smith will be without winger Anwar El Ghazi for the game at Chelsea due to a knee injury sustained in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Manchester United but midfielder Jota returns after a two-month absence following hernia surgery.
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Mauricio Pochettino admits he is “open to listen to projects” amid speculation linking him with a number of roles.
The Argentinian was sacked almost a fortnight ago after five years in the job following Spurs’ slump in form, before being swiftly replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Pochettino took the north London club to the Champions League final last season, where they were beaten by Liverpool in Madrid.
The 47-year-old has since been linked with Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League while elsewhere in Europe he has been reportedly interesting Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Pochettino told Fox Sports Argentina: “There are a lot of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on.
“At my age I don’t need a lot of time to recover. I am open to listen to projects put before me.”
A report on Monday poured cold water on links with United and Arsenal by suggesting Pochettino would lose his £12.5million pay-off from Tottenham if he accepts another Premier League role this campaign.
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Steve Bruce has picked out the “excellent” Newcastle duo of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron as they grabbed a 2-2 draw against Manchester City.
Jetro Willems cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s 15th goal of the season but Kevin De Bruyne thought he had won it with a fine 82nd-minute strike.
But Jonjo Shelvey curled home a brilliant 87th-minute equaliser which, coupled with Martin Dubravka’s stoppage-time save from Sterling, ensured the game finished level.
And Bruce was full of praise for two of his front three, he said: “Allan and Almiron today were excellent in their work. You’ve seen three quality goals and we’ve got two of them.”
Asked about his side’s performance, Bruce added: “When you take on one of the big boys it’s always nice to get something from it.
“Their attitude and effort and endeavour in terms of their workrate and to keep getting after the ball, it’s manful in terms of how they do it.”
When asked if the atmosphere at St James’ Park was a bit flat, Bruce continued: “It would have been nice to get some of the ball to give them something to shout about!
“They’ve witnessed their team rolling up their sleeves and showing a bit of determination. The fans were superb at the end.”
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Gary Neville has labeled Arsenal’s recruitment strategy as “truly pathetic” after Unai Emery was sacked.
The Spaniard was fired on Friday morning after the loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night took Arsenal‘s winless run to seven matches.
And Neville thinks the players have “let him down” while the club’s “recruitment policy” has not been good enough.
“I don’t know who’s been responsible for recruitment over the last two or three years, they’ve chopped and changed, there have been new people brought in,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“But if I was in the boardroom at Arsenal I’d be giving them a right rocket. There’s no way Emery is telling David Luiz to step up two or three times, there’s hideous things you see from the other defenders and midfielders.
“You think of [Granit] Xhaka the other week, Emery is a man of honour and you see that behaviour, this is much deeper than the coach. Emery might be sailing his way back over the Channel this afternoon and be very happy to leave behind what is, quite simply a very average bunch of players.
“There’s no way Unai Emery was telling the players to do those things. Some of the things we were seeing on the pitch were fantasy football really.
“Without a shadow of a doubt the players have let him down. The manager will take the hit, it’s his responsibility to place them into an organised shape, but some of those players – I’ve been critical of my own club over the last few years for their recruitment policy and their strategy, but Arsenal’s is truly pathetic.
“You couldn’t find a more erratic bunch of players in terms of defending to watch. If you said to find three or four most erratic defenders in Europe, it’s almost like that’s the brief for recruitment. The players have let him down but some of them aren’t up to it.”
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Roy Hodgson is happy with Crystal Palace’s recent performances and hoping they can soon turn that into winning points again.
The Eagles have not tasted success in the Premier League since October 5 when they struck late in a 2-1 victory at West Ham.
While the south Londoners are on a five-match streak without a win, the mitigating factors are the level of opposition they have faced which includes Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool.
On Saturday, Hodgson’s side will travel to Burnley looking to arrest a slide down the table from sixth to 13th.
“I don’t think you should confuse form with results,” he said. “I don’t know we are in mixed form. Our form hasn’t particularly dipped from the Man City game through to the Liverpool game.
“We have had five tough fixtures and I don’t think we’ve performed badly in any of them, but of course because we’ve been playing the top sides we’ve been unable to get many points.
“But we’ve been close to doing so on many occasions so I would not equate form and results. I don’t think our form is bad, but our results have been bad.
“We did fear we might be in for that type of period when we looked at the fixture list and we were playing the top five teams in the country one after another.”
Sean Dyche’s Burnley, on the other hand, are three points ahead of Palace and have triumphed 3-0 in their last two games.
Hodgson added: “We have every respect for them. We know they are a difficult nut to crack at all times and we have to be ready for the type of game it will be.”
This is the start of a busy schedule for all teams in the Premier League and Palace will play seven times between now and the end of the year.
It means the former England manager will have to consider rotation during a hectic period of the season.
“It’s a time when your squad is really tested,” Hodgson said. “You really need everybody in good form, physical condition and in good mental condition.
“It’s unrealistic to expect 11 players to carry out every 90 minutes you’re going to play, so it’s important everyone’s ready.”
The Palace boss confirmed he would be without Joel Ward for Saturday’s trip to Turf Moor after the defender suffered a serious knee injury in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool last weekend.
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Unai Emery has hits back at rumours that he has lost the backing of the Arsenal dressing room by insisting they still believe in him.
The pressure on the Spaniard ramped up over the weekend as the Gunners were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Southampton, with Alexandre Lacazette rescuing a point for Arsenal late on.
The Gunners are now six matches without a win in all competitions and sit eighth in the Premier League standings.
Asked in his pre-match press conference whether the Arsenal players still believed in him, Emery responded: “Yes of course. They show that.
“As a coach each moment in my career is difficult. This is a very good but very hard job. When you are winning you feel the support for everybody. I believe in us, I believe in the players. I know I am going to work very hard to come back to the performance.
“I am looking forward to playing tomorrow. The good moment, the bad moment the most important for me is to show my work. Our confidence depends a lot on how we can feel in our stadium with our supporters.
“Teams are coming here playing fearless. We need to be strong and together. We need to show our supporters our capacity and skills.”
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Arsenal legend Paul Merson explans why his former club should approach Mauricio Pochettino to replace under-fire manager Unai Emery.
Arsenal have won just four of their 13 Premier League games this season, leading many to question Emery’s position at the Emirates.
Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw by 19th-place Southampton at home on Saturday afternoon, with the Gunners fans booing at the final whistle.
A host of some of Europe’s top bosses – including Max Allegri and former Gunner Mikel Arteta – have been linked with a move to north London, and Pochettino is the latest man to be tipped to succeed Emery, having been sacked by rivals Tottenham last week.
The Argentine took Spurs to the 2019 Champions League final and oversaw four successive top-four finishes in the Premier League, establishing himself as one of the best young coaches in England.
And despite his past ties with Arsenal’s fiercest rivals, Merson believes ‘top manager’ Pochettino is the ideal man to take over, partly because Arsenal would not need to fork out any money for compensation.
“Arsenal should go for Mauricio Pochettino,” the former Arsenal midfielder told Sky Sports. “He’s not won anything, but he improved Tottenham over five years, tenfold. He’s a top manager and he is about at the moment.
“I know he managed at Tottenham, but George Graham had been at Arsenal when he went the other way. You’ve got to get past that sort of stuff. These top managers don’t come along too often, where you don’t even have to pay anything for them.
“Can I see it happening? No. Should it happen? Yes. But it won’t happen. The days of the rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham are not what they were. When I was growing up, it was the big football match.
“For some of these players, that’s no longer the case. It’s probably Chelsea or Manchester City or Liverpool. It’s not the highlighted fixture anymore as there’s not a lot of home-grown players in the teams.
“You don’t have to pay compensation for him, and if you are going to bring someone in, he’s got to be better than the manager you’ve got.”
Merson is desperate to see a significant change made in the Arsenal dugout but thinks Emery will ultimately be granted an extended stay of execution, even if another loss is posted at Norwich on Sunday.
“I still see Emery being there for a while. They had a chance to get rid of him before the international break,” he added.
“They looked at the fixtures and saw Southampton at home, Norwich away. They thought they would win both and everything would be rosy in the garden again. But they were fortunate to draw with Southampton with some of the chances they had, and they’d recently lost 9-0.
“Their confidence was low, but they never looked like they would be on to a hiding. There wasn’t too much respect and they came and thought they had a chance.
“I’m a great believer in if you keep doing the same things, you get the same results. Something needs to change. The players are not that good, but at the same time, results have to be better than what they are.
“If you’re a football manager and you arrive at a club, the team must improve, and the results have to improve. If they don’t then you won’t be in the job for long. That was a fact when I was playing, and it will be a fact in 30 years’ time.
“It’s worrying times, and with Norwich away this weekend, I think Emery will do well to get on the coach if they don’t win that game.”
Before their trip to Carrow Road this weekend, Arsenal host Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday, where a win will be enough to book their spot in the last 32.
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