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EPL stunners as Liverpool lose 7-2 to Aston Villa, Manchester United 6-1 to Spurs

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Premier League champion Liverpool was humiliated 7-2 by Aston Villa to end its perfect start to the title defence on Sunday.

Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick and Jack Grealish scored twice as Villa made it three wins out of three after only surviving in the league on the last day of last season.

Liverpool became the first reigning Premier League champions to concede seven in a game. The last time it happened in English football’s top division was in 1953.

With Alisson Becker out with a shoulder injury, Adrian was in the Liverpool goal and his mistake allowed Watkins to open the scoring in the fourth minute.

A poor attempt at a pass was pounced upon in the Liverpool box by Grealish, who laid the ball to Watkins for a simple finish.

Villa doubled its advantage when Watkins, again set up by Grealish, cut inside Joe Gomez and fired past Adrian into the top corner.

Liverpool reduced the deficit in the 33rd as the ball came to Mohamed Salah in the box and he cracked it in.

But within moments the visitors had conceded again, with John McGinn’s volley going past Adrian via a deflection off defender Virgil Van Dijk.

Ross Barkley then got his debut goal after joining on loan from Chelsea in the 55th, hitting a shot from outside the box that flew in off Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Grealish again the provider.

Salah fired in at the other end five minutes later to make it 5-2, but Villa was not finished, with Grealish adding a brace.

His first came in the 66th minute, another goal involving a deflection as the Villa skipper’s shot hit Fabinho en route to the net.

Watkins was then denied by Adrian, before Grealish burst clear of the Liverpool defense as he latched onto McGinn’s pass and calmly tucked the ball past Adrian.

With three wins from three games, Dean Smith’s Villa are up to second place in the table, level on points with Liverpool – which has played four matches – plus Leicester and Arsenal.

The quartet is three points behind Liverpool’s Merseyside rival, Everton, which Juergen Klopp’s side faces at Goodison Park in their next match on October 17.

Tottenham tore apart Manchester United for a 6-1 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday, exposing the defensive weaknesses in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side by inflicting the team’s joint-heaviest Premier League defeat at home.

Only once since 1930 has United conceded six at home — to Manchester City nine years ago. Not since 1986 has United opened the league season with back-to-back home losses.

This was a crushing defeat to a Tottenham side managed by Jose Mourinho, who was fired in 2018 to make way for Solskjær. And against a team that has played eight games in 22 days across three competitions and was trailing after two minutes at Old Trafford.

But after Bruno Fernandes’ penalty, United’s wretched defense allowed Tanguy Ndombele to level in the fourth minute and Son Heung-Min to net again inside three minutes.

United can be aggrieved that Erik Lamela’s apparent playacting led to Anthony Martial being sent off in the 28th minute. But the team was already being run ragged by Tottenham.

Harry Kane scored his first on the half-hour, Son netted again in the 37th, Serge Aurier was on target in the 51st and Kane wrapped up the rout from the penalty spot in the 79th.

“Very impressive,” Mourinho said. “The team was phenomenal since the second minute. Losing 1-0, big personality.”

Tottenham’s Harry Kane scores his team’s sixth goal against Manchester United, from the penalty spot. (AP)

Unlike United, which opened the season with 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace. Two more goals were conceded at Brighton last weekend but Fernando came to United’s rescue with a winner from the penalty spot in the 10th minute of stoppage time.

In contrast to that late penalty on the south coast, United was immediately off the mark from the spot against Tottenham.

The game was barely 30 seconds old when Davinson Sanchez tripped Anthony Martial to halt a run into the penalty and Fernandes converted from the spot.

Fernandes can be relied on to score penalties — this was his 18th in a row including at previous club Sporting in Lisbon. What cannot be relied on is United’s shambolic defense despite captain Harry Maguire becoming the world’s most expensive defender when he was signed last year for 80 million pounds.

Twice he weakly headed the ball, unable to clear the danger, before Ndombele prodded in the leveler.

United was carved apart when Kane slipped the pass through for Son who lifted the ball over goalkeeper David De Gea. It was the first time in a decade that three goals had been scored in the opening seven minutes of a Premier League game.

The blot of Tottenham’s day came with Lamela seeming to deceive the referee after being softly struck by Martial in retaliation for a light push on his face by the Argentine. Lamela clutched his face before dropping to the ground — and Martial’s red was upheld by a VAR check.

Tottenham didn’t seem to need the man-advantage it was so ruthless and United was so poor.

Eric Bailly received the ball and passed sloppily to Nemanja Matic, whose failure to control was seized on by Kane. The striker intercepted the ball and played a one-two with Son before netting.

United was torn apart down the right flank for Tottenham’s fourth. After being released by Moussa Sissoko, Aurier put the ball through the legs of Maguire, the center half who had drifted into a left back position, and Son flicked a shot through De Gea.

United was in disarray and fortunate not to concede again until after the break. It was Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s weighted pass that set up Aurier for the fifth.

Pogba compounded a dismal display by fouling Ben Davies to concede the penalty that Kane converted.

The coronavirus pandemic kept fans out of the stadium — sparing Solskjær boos from his own supporters.

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Europa: Mourinho’s Roma lose 6-1 to Norway’s Bodo/Glimt

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Jose Mourinho oversees one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career as Roma lose 6-1 to Norwegian Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.

On a night when Tottenham suffered a shock defeat at Vitesse, former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was having an even worse time.

The Portuguese endured one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career – and certainly the most surprising – as his Roma side were thrashed 6-1 by Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.

Roma trailed just 2-1 at the break after the Norwegian champions struck through Erik Botheim and Patrick Berg’s curler, while Carles Perez replied with a clinical effort.

Mourinho made three changes at the start of the second half and another two on the hour mark after Bodo/Glimt added a third with Botheim tapping in from close range.

But there was more misery for Mourinho and Roma as Ola Solbakken’s fine solo goal made it 4-1 before Amahl Pellegrino added a fifth and Solbakken claimed his second.

It is the first time a Mourinho side has conceded six or more goals in a single game in what was the 1,008th match of his coaching career.

It sits alongside the 5-0 loss his Real Madrid side suffered against Barcelona in 2010 as one of the biggest defeats for Mourinho as a manager.

“I decided to play with this line-up, so the responsibility is mine,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“I did it with good intentions, to give an opportunity to those who work hard and to rotate the squad on a synthetic pitch in cold weather.

“I never disguised the fact we were a squad with real limitations. We have 13 players who represent one team, the others are on a different level.

“We lost against a team that showed more quality on the night. It’s that simple.”

BBC

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Patrice Evra: I’m sick of giving the Ballon D’or to Messi

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Patrice Evra has admitted that he is tired of watching Lionel Messi win the Ballon d’Or, and the current Paris Saint-Germain star has done it six times in his career.

This year’s 2021 Ballon d’Or race looks more open than it used to be, with Evra even named Chelsea team N’Golo Kante and Jorginho as winners who should be better than Leo Messi.

“In my opinion, this Ballon d’Or belongs to Kante or Jorginho … I’m sick of giving it to Messi,” Evra said.

“What did you win last year? All right, Copa America and Argentina. What did you do with Barcelona?”

Competing with Leo Messi, Kante, and Jorginho in the Ballon d’Or race are the likes of Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Man U need to change something’ after losing 4-2 at Leicester – Pogba

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Leicester ended their opponents’ 29-game unbeaten run away from home to increase the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba suggested that his side lack maturity and experience as they were beaten 4-2 in the Premier League at Leicester.

Pogba has declared something needs to change at Manchester United following their 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City. “We need to find something, we need to change something.”

The Frenchman played the entirety of United’s latest defeat that ended their 29-game unbeaten run away from home.

The defeat leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under further scrutiny as United’s own winless run extends to three games as they continue to look less than the sum of their expensive parts.

“To be honest, we’ve been having this kind of game for a long time and we haven’t found the problem,” Pogba said.

“We need to find what’s the problem, to concede easy goals, stupid goals, when we know those games where we play on this pitch, the fans are going to push, put pressure on us and everything. We need to be more mature, I think. We need to play with more experience, arrogance in a good way. We have to take the ball and play our football.

 

“But now we have to find what’s the key of these games that we lose. Because I think we deserved to lose today.

 

“We need to find something, we need to change something. I don’t know if the mindset of all of us, the players, when we start… we really don’t know. It’s frustrating because it’s something we don’t understand and we have to find that very fast because if you want to compete and you want to win the title, those games you have to win, even though they are very hard and we’re playing away.

 

“You need to fight their game, you need to find the right mentality, the right tactic to win those games. That’s my thought. We have time to think about it and then all together, we have to stick together and find the problem.”

 

Ole: I made bad decisions

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he “probably made a couple of bad decisions” with his team selection

Harry Maguire made a surprise return against his former club after recovering from injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the line-up after being rested against Everton. Yet it was the central midfield area where Manchester United struggled as Pogba and Nemanja Matic were badly overrun at times.

 

Solskjaer admitted he made errors with the way his team set up.

 

“The four goals we conceded were very poor,” he told Sky Sports.

 

“When you concede goals like that in the way we did, we don’t deserve to continue that run. Definitely the performance was very below-par and not good enough. We got a very good goal with Mason and we were knocking on the door to get another one; sloppy play and we concede a goal.

 

“In the second half, it was end-to-end but they created more chances and conceding at set-pieces was disappointing. Conceding seconds after the equaliser shouldn’t happen. I picked the team; Harry showed no reaction. I hold my hand up if it doesn’t work out and sometimes it doesn’t.

“When you concede four, I probably made a couple of bad decisions.”

Merse: Solskjaer in a spot of bother

Paul Merson speaking on Soccer Saturday, said, “I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in a spot of bother.

“I said before the game if that he can get through November still in the job, then they would have every chance of winning the league because they have some shocking fixtures – and this was the start of it and they have been beaten. Leicester thoroughly deserved it too.

“Manchester United are struggling. I’ve said that Arsenal could finish above them in the top four and I haven’t changed my mind.

 

“They are individuals, they are not a team. They haven’t got legs all around the pitch and because Ronaldo can’t go in behind defences, the other teams are all pushing up on them and that means Pogba doesn’t get time on the ball. For me, Solskjaer is under severe pressure.”

 

Manchester United’s gruelling run

Manchester United face a formidable set of fixtures in October and November as they look to keep pace in the Premier League and ensure Champions League qualification, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and the Manchester derby looming domestically.

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