EPL

'We're all waiting on Leon' - Villa manager Gerrard says club, fans eager to see player hit top level

By Sports Desk February 19, 2022

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard insists the club is anxiously waiting to see the best of Jamaica forward Leon Bailey after a stop-start beginning to life at Villa Park.

The 24-year-old returned to English Premier League action last weekend, with a 10-minute spell against Newcastle, following a lengthy lay-off.

The player had been out of action since December after damaging his thigh muscle during the first half against Manchester City.  At the time, Bailey was finding himself sidelined for the second time with the same injury after damaging the muscle against Everton in September.

His exhilarating cameo against the Toffees, however, showed glimpses of what the player could bring to the table.  Gerrard took notice.

“I remember he came off the bench against Everton – I was watching the game on TV – and he lifted the stadium up,” the coach said.

“He scored a wonderful goal,” he added

“Everyone is waiting for him. The owners, the board, the staff, the players.

“We’re all waiting for Leon to really burst onto the scene, stay healthy and find his best level.

“We have signed a talent who has produced at his previous clubs, and he’s shown flashes.

“Leon’s focus has to be on staying fit, getting himself in the best physical condition, and allowing his talent to flourish.”

Related items

  • Half-centuries from Brooks, King help Windies save face with eight-wicket victory over New Zealand at Sabina Park Half-centuries from Brooks, King help Windies save face with eight-wicket victory over New Zealand at Sabina Park

    Half-centuries from Sharmarh Brooks and Player-of-the-Match Brandon King helped the West Indies salvage a measure of pride after they defeated New Zealand by eight wickets with six balls to spare in the third and final T20 International at Sabina Park in Kingston on Sunday.

    New Zealand took the series 2-1 after winning the first T20 international by 13 runs last Wednesday and humiliating the West Indies by 90 runs on Friday, which meant that Sunday’s match was a dead rubber with only pride at stake for the home side.

    Set a target of 147, the West Indies cruised to 150-2 from 19 overs.

    The victory was set up by an opening stand of 102 between Brooks, who was unbeaten on 56 and King who entertained the small crowd gathered with 53 from 35 balls, his first T20 international half-century on home soil and his fifth overall.

    It was the first opening stand of 100 or more by the West Indies since January 2020 against Ireland.

    King eventually got out in the 14th over attempting to pull Tim Southee over the square-leg boundary but was caught by Martin Guptill running in from deep.

    Devon Thomas wasted an opportunity to get some runs under his belt when he was caught at deep midwicket by Glen Phillips for five to leave the West Indies 113-2 mid-way the 15th over.

    Stand-in captain Rovman Powell ensured that there would be no jitters. He scored 27 not out including the match-winning six over the midwicket boundary from James Neesham’s final delivery.

    Powell and Brooks shared a 37-run partnership that took the home side to victory.

    For the first time in the series, the bowlers and batsmen were on song.

    Odean Smith took T20I career-best figures of 3-29, Dominic Drakes bowled tidily to finish with 1-19 and Akeal Hosein 2-28 to restrict New Zealand to 145-7, their lowest total of the series.

    Phillips followed up his 76 from the second T20 international with a 26-ball 41 but New Zealand lost wickets at regular intervals and were unable to put together any meaningful partnerships.

    In fact, it was a 47-run fourth-wicket partnership between Kane Williamson (24) and Phillips that helped the tourists set a respectable total after struggling to 57-3 in the ninth over.

    Devon Conway’s 21 was the only other score of note as the West Indies bowlers maintained a stranglehold throughout the 20 overs.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions

    Substitute David Alaba scored a stunning free-kick with his first touch as Real Madrid started their LaLiga title defence with a 2-1 turnaround win over Almeria on Sunday.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side started poorly at the Power Horse Stadium in Andalusia, and fell behind inside the opening 10 minutes courtesy of a clinical finish from former Manchester United youth player Largie Ramazani.

    Madrid struggled to find a way past an inspired Fernando Martinez in the Almeria goal, before Lucas Vazquez, who had an effort ruled out in the first half for offside, eventually pulled Madrid level shortly after the hour mark.

    Alaba replaced Ferland Mendy in the 74th minute and with his first touch curled a sumptuous free-kick past Fernando from 25 yards to seal all three points.

    Madrid's defence was caught out in just the sixth minute when Ramazani latched onto Inigo Eguaras' superb ball over the top and fired past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area.

    At five minutes and 50 seconds, that was the quickest goal Madrid have conceded on the opening day of a league season since Sergio Aguero scored against them for Atletico Madrid in August 2007.

    Los Blancos had a whopping 17 shots before the interval, yet a combination of smart goalkeeping from Fernando and uncharacteristically wasteful finishing from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior prevented them from finding a leveller.

    Fernando continued to frustrate Madrid after the break, denying Benzema with a fine save, but he was eventually beaten in the 61st minute when Vazquez slammed home after the Almeria goalkeeper had kept out Vinicius' effort. 

    Alaba then ensured Madrid went back to the capital with maximum points, whipping past a helpless Fernando immediately after entering the action.

    What does it mean? Madrid bounce back to deny plucky hosts

    Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

    Vasquez and Alaba had other ideas, though, as Los Blancos stretched their unbeaten run on the opening day of LaLiga to 14 games.

    Alaba's instant impact

    Alaba did not need to settle into the action before dispatching a glorious free-kick past Fernando with his first touch. That goal meant he is one of only two players, alongside Real Betis' Nabil Fekir, to have scored two goals from free-kicks in LaLiga since the start of last season.

    Fantastic Fernando

    Fernando can consider himself exceptionally unlucky to have finished on the losing side. The 32-year-old made an incredible 13 saves to frustrate the visitors, but there was little he could do about Madrid's two decisive strikes.

    What's next?

    Madrid are away at Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Almeria visit Elche two days later. 

  • 'You can only sit back and watch' - Bayern's Davies dazzled by Mane 'You can only sit back and watch' - Bayern's Davies dazzled by Mane

    Sadio Mane is a "top player" who "you can only sit back and watch", says Bayern Munich team-mate Alphonso Davies after Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg.

    The Senegal international, who arrived from Liverpool ahead of the start of the 2022-23 season, has made an instant impact at his new home, setting the Bundesliga alight with his performances.

    A superb league debut in a 6-1 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt last week saw him get himself on the scoresheet, and only a VAR intervention stopped him from finding it again this weekend.

    But even without another goal to his name, Mane - who fired the Reds to a domestic cup double last term and his country to Africa Cup of Nations glory, plus World Cup qualification - has left his team-mates impressed.

    "Sadio Mane, you see this guy, he's a top player," Davies told the Bundesliga's official website. "He's hard-working, he's fast, we try to get the ball to him as much as possible because he's a very quick guy.

    "He's a good player. We're happy to have him here. He feels good in the team and as you can see, the performances he's [shown] lately, you can only just sit back and watch."

    Dayot Upamecano also offered high praise for the forward, adding: "We know he's a very big player, he's helping us a lot. We're all very happy he's here.

    "He gave me tips about a lot of things. He's one of the best players in the world and everyone of us is happy that he's here."

    With two wins from two to start the new season, Bayern are flying in defence of their Bundesliga crown, one they earned last year despite a string of so-so performances and a frustrating Champions League campaign.

    But Davies feels they have turned a page this term for Julian Nagelsmann's sophomore season, adding: "This year, we have a mindset that we want to keep.

    "Last year wasn't too ideal for us in [the] competitions but this year, we have some new faces [and] fresh legs. It's the beginning of the season, you want to keep this momentum going. We're just enjoying playing football."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.