Mauricio Pochettino insisted he has "no issue" with Jan Vertonghen after leaving the defender out of his squad for Tottenham's 3-1 Premier League opening-day win over Aston Villa.

Belgium international Vertonghen started 22 of Tottenham's league games last season but was overlooked against promoted Villa, with Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld getting the nod ahead of him and Serge Aurier on the bench.

After John McGinn's early opener gave Villa a lead they held until the 73rd minute, an equaliser from Tanguy Ndombele and a double from Harry Kane helped Spurs to victory.

Pochettino said Vertonghen's omission was purely tactical, telling Sky Sports: "With all the players fit, in the future we're going to struggle to find the starting 11. We have more than 25 that are knocking on the door of the first team.

"We have plenty of very good players in all the positions. We cannot play with 13 or 14. It's always the judgement of the manager and coaching staff. If we lose, my decisions were so bad; if we win, we keep going.

"I'm going to play the players who I believe deserve to play. There's not any issue.

"Jan for sure, like any other player who didn't play today, is going to have to work hard for the opportunity to play, and show me that I was wrong when they didn't play."

The introduction of Christian Eriksen as a second-half substitute seemed to lift Spurs nine minutes before Ndombele scored with a superb long-range strike on his debut.

Pochettino admitted his first-half game plan did not work, saying: "We were a little bit confused but it's always my fault because I'm the manager.

"Our positional game ... it didn't work in the first half, to be honest. We started to make rash decisions and found positions that didn't help us. That was my fault.

"Second half we fixed that problem. We helped the team to move the ball better.

"Adding Christian fresh helped the team to achieve the victory, but we are talking about a top-quality player."

Opposite number Dean Smith handed debuts to four of his 12 summer signings, with Tom Heaton, Bjorn Engels, Trezeguet and Wesley all featuring for the first time in competitive action for Villa.

Smith dismissed the suggestion his new signings might have struggled to gel, saying: "It's not that hard, actually.

"I've worked with five of the players before so the integration has been quite seamless. They've all adapted and now we've learned the standard of what we need. Anybody who comes here is going to find it tough against the team Mauricio has got. It's a great learning curve."

Looking ahead to his side's clash with Everton at Villa Park, Smith added: "We always looked and thought Villa Park would be massive for us this season.

"We'll go and put in performances for the fans at Villa Park and I hope we can be a threat."

Frank Lampard has refused to indulge speculation he could become Chelsea's new manager following Derby County's Championship play-off final defeat to Aston Villa on Monday.

Blues legend Lampard has been heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge to replace Maurizio Sarri, who has been tipped for the Juventus job following Massimiliano Allegri's surprise departure.

Lampard, whose first season as a manager ended in disappointment with a 2-1 defeat to Villa at Wembley, would not be drawn on the speculation and says he will speak to Rams owner Mel Morris in the coming days about his future.

"I'm not interested in the speculation," he said. "I'll sit down with Mel Morris over the next few days. I've got a two-year contract and I love working here.

"After my first year and the opportunity this club gave me it's massively important that everyone understands that is my overriding feeling.

"So that's where I am. I'll go away tonight and have a couple of beers with the lads and the staff, and afterwards we'll talk about where we go forward."

Villa's win ends a three-year stay in the Championship and boss Dean Smith believes the club are now back in their rightful place.

"The potential for the football club is massive," he said. "I have been asked how it feels right now? I think it feels right. 

"It feels right that Aston Villa are in the Premier League. I think the history of the football club, the size of the football club, the fanbase it has, I believe it is a Premier League club. 

"It's not me speaking with a supporter's head on. It's just the history that tells you that.

"But, unfortunately, we have had some hard years as we've tried to get back into the Premier League. 

"The players and owners deserve what they are going to get. The potential with the owners that we have is massive."

Sheffield United claimed another big win in their bid for promotion from the Championship as they beat Hull City 3-0 to pile the pressure on Leeds United.

With Leeds facing Brentford in Monday's late fixture, the second-placed Blades moved three points clear of Marcelo Bielsa's side with a dominant display at KCOM Stadium.

Above them, Norwich City were held to a fourth successive draw, and with two games remaining, their lead has been reduced to just three points.

Play-off candidates Middlesbrough and Bristol City succumbed to defeats at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, and Derby County took the chance to move into the top six thanks to a Harry Wilson late show against QPR.

In the early game, Aston Villa beat Millwall to claim their 10th successive win, while at the other end of the table Wigan Athletic secured safety with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End.


Having seen off Forest on Friday, Sheffield United took full advantage of playing before Leeds by dismantling Hull in a Yorkshire derby.

Chris Wilder's side took the lead 10 minutes in – David McGoldrick heading home unmarked from John Fleck's corner – and the Blades never looked back.

McGoldrick doubled his tally 12 minutes later, curling in an excellent finish from 25 yards out, with Enda Stevens capitalising on more slack Hull defending to effectively wrap up the points before half-time.

While securing automatic promotion will be the priority, United are just three points behind Norwich with two games – against Ipswich Town and Stoke City – still to come.


A matter of weeks ago, it looked as though Norwich's charge to the title, and the Premier League, was a mere formality.

Now, however, after yet another draw, things look a bit more complicated for Daniel Farke's side. Depending on Leeds' result against Brentford, there could suddenly be a three-way tussle for not just promotion, but the title.

Norwich dominated proceedings for much of Monday's encounter at Stoke, with Onel Hernandez beating Jack Butland in the 24th minute.

But the hosts fought back through Ashley Williams' header, and though Teemu Pukki restored Norwich's lead, Thomas Edwards drew Stoke level once more to secure a share of the spoils, and delay the Canaries' promotion celebrations.


Derby moved into the final play-off spot thanks to a dramatic 2-0 triumph over QPR, though Frank Lampard's side relied on a contentious penalty to break the deadlock.

With 94 minutes played, referee David Webb harshly deemed that Luke Freeman had fouled Jayden Bogle, and Liverpool loanee Wilson made no mistake with a composed finish.

QPR rallied, with Pawel Wszolek seeing an effort hooked off the line, but the result was settled when Derby raced clear – Wilson tucking in his second in the 101st minute.

Derby's move into the play-off spots comes at the expense of Middlesbrough, who lost 3-0 at Forest, while Barry Bannan's stunner set Sheffield Wednesday up for a 2-0 win over Bristol, who drop to eighth.


Villa seem to be hitting top form at just the right time, as they all but guaranteed a play-off place with a 1-0 win over Millwall – Jonathan Kodjia on target for Dean Smith's side.

Millwall's defeat handed Wigan a boost ahead of their clash with Preston, who had Ryan Ledson sent off as the Latics secured the points with goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans.

In the process, Wigan moved onto 48 points, enough to make sure of their Championship status for another season after Rotherham United lost at home to Birmingham City.

Leeds United moved top of the Championship after Kemar Roofe's 95th-minute strike secured a remarkable 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa.

It looked like Norwich City would be taking pole position, but Roofe struck deep into stoppage time to claim a vital victory.

Marcelo Bielsa's side were up against it from the 17th minute, when Conor Hourihane added to Tammy Abraham's well-crafted opener.

But, buoyed by an excellent finish from half-time substitute Jack Clarke in the 56th minute, Leeds restored parity when Pontus Jansson headed home from a corner soon after.

Leeds were unfortunate that referee Andy Madley failed to spot a clear handball from Glenn Whelan in the box, but their fortune changed in the final minute of stoppage time when Villa failed to clear a long ball and Roofe hammered home a volley to gift the visitors a perfect early Christmas present.

The victory means Leeds leapfrog Norwich at the top, while Villa sit 11th.

Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest played out a remarkable 5-5 draw in the Championship on Wednesday, with Tammy Abraham netting four goals.

Forest's Joe Lolley scored the pick of the bunch in an incredible encounter at Villa Park, where the clash swung back in the hosts' favour when Tobias Figueiredo saw red.

West Brom continued their fine run to move within three points of leaders Norwich City, while Derby County's inconsistent form continued at Stoke City. 

Three goals in the space of nine second-half minutes saw Bristol City overcome lowly Ipswich Town and, elsewhere, there were wins for Wigan Athletic and Birmingham City over Blackburn Rovers and Millwall respectively.


Abraham would have been forgiven for thinking that four goals against Nottingham Forest should have proved enough to claim the points at Villa Park, but that was not to be the case.

The Chelsea loanee scored a first-half hat-trick to ensure Dean Smith's side went in on level terms at half-time, with Forest leading 2-0 and then 3-2 thanks to efforts from Lewis Grabban, Joao Carvalho and Matthew Cash.

Lolley's thunderbolt put Forest ahead six minutes after the restart, but Abraham capitalised on Figueiredo's sending off to restore parity once more before Anwar El Ghazi put Villa ahead for the first time.

They could not hold on, though – Grabban punishing the club he played for in the second half of last season when he nudged in from close range with eight minutes to play, moving Forest into the top six.


Paul Lambert's wait for a first win as Ipswich Town boss rumbled on as his side conceded three times in nine minutes at home to Bristol City.

Freddie Sears put Ipswich ahead in the first half, but goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski diverted Famara Diedhiou's effort into his own net to hand City an equaliser and, in a flurry of action, the visitors eventually came out on top.

Sears swiftly restored Ipswich's lead, only for Jamie Paterson and Diedhiou to turn the game on its head in the space of five minutes.

Ipswich – six points adrift at the foot of the table – are now without a win on home soil since April, and have tasted victory just once in the Championship this season.


Derby County slipped out of the play-off places as Thomas Ince scored against his former club to claim a 2-1 win for 10-man Stoke City.

Sam Clucas' first Stoke goal opened the scoring, but Oghenekaro Etebo's red card made matters complicated for Gary Rowett against the side he left in the close-season.

Frank Lampard's side were fortunate that Bradley Johnson's apparent bite on Joe Allen was not spotted by the officials, however, before Harry Wilson curled in a typically excellent free-kick after the interval.

However, Ince would have the final say when he tucked home from Clucas' cross just after the hour.


West Brom claimed a third successive victory as they came from behind to beat Swansea City 2-1 in south Wales.

Oli McBurnie's early effort put the hosts in front, but Craig Dawson responded with a looping header three minutes later.

And Darren Moore's side, who are now two points off the automatic promotion spots, completed the turnaround by half-time when Ahmed Hegazi nodded home.

Aston Villa came from behind to secure a pulsating 4-2 win over neighbours Birmingham City on Sunday and move up to eighth in the Championship.

After a bright start, Birmingham took the lead in the 28th minute when Lukas Jutkiewicz stole in at the back post to steer home Connor Mahoney's deep corner.

Their joy was short-lived, however, as Villa stormed back with two goals in the space of as many minutes soon afterwards.

Jonathan Kodjia pulled them level with a scuffed finish from 10 yards in the 37th minute before Jack Grealish headed home Albert Adomah's cross at the back post.

Tammy Abraham put Villa 3-1 up with a superb penalty after he had been brought down by Michael Morrison six minutes into the second half, but Kristian Pedersen pulled one back for Garry Monk's side with a cool volley after 57 minutes.

Any hopes of a grandstand finish were extinguished in the 76th minute when Alan Hutton added a fourth, the former Tottenham defender producing a surging run and fine finish to seal all three points for Dean Smith's side.

Aston Villa suffered a second straight defeat under Dean Smith as QPR moved to within one point of the Championship play-off places with a 1-0 win at Loftus Road.

Middlesbrough and Sheffield United were both held to draws as Norwich City consigned Dean Smith to his first defeat since taking charge of Aston Villa in Tuesday’s Championship action.

Championship side Brentford have appointed Thomas Frank as their new head coach.

Aston Villa have appointed Dean Smith as their new head coach, with former England and Chelsea captain John Terry as his assistant.

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