This week, the Premier League teams have continued their preparations for the coming campaign. Here’s how they got on:
Chelsea 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Chelsea secured a draw against former manager Carlo Ancelotti’s PSG thanks to Lucas Piazon’s late goal.
The French team took the lead in the first half as Nene fired in the loose ball after Javier Pastore hit the post.
But Piazon hit his first goal for the senior side as he connected with Ramires’ pass on 82 minutes to ensure honours were even in the first football match to be played at the new Yankee Stadium in New York.
Ajax Cape Town 1-1 Man Utd
Man Utd needed an added-time equaliser from new Portuguese signing Bebe to salvage a draw against Ajax Cape Town.
Substitute Alcardo Van Graan flicked in a corner to put the South African side ahead with just four minutes remaining.
But with a shock defeat looming, Bebe volleyed in Marnick Vermijl’s cross to level matters.
Toronto FC 1-1 Liverpool
Youngster Adam Morgan hit an equaliser as Liverpool came back to earn a draw in Canada.
Toronto, coached by former England international Paul Mariner, took a surprise lead when Quincy Amarikwa followed up to finish after Sergio Camargo’s fiercely struck shot was parried.
But 18-year-old Morgan pounced from close range to ensure it finished all square in a match which saw Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers replace his entire team at half-time.
Fenerbahce 1-1 Newcastle United
A Mehdi Abeid goal was not enough to give Newcastle victory as they completed their mini-tour of Germany and Austria with a draw against Fenerbahce.
Abeid looked to have won the match as he produced a smart turn and shot on 78 minutes which beat Fenerbahce goalkeeper Mert Gunok.
But Cristian Baroni struck in injury time with a low drive past keeper Rob Elliott.
Chicago Fire 0-1 Aston Villa
Gabriel Agbonlahor headed the only goal of the match from a Chris Herd cross as Vllla earned the second 1-0 win of their USA tour.
However, the forward is set for a scan after picking up a minor knee injury during the contest.
Motherwell 1-1 Everton
Shane Duffy’s first-half header was not enough to secure victory for the Toffees.
Duffy nodded in via the post from Victor Anichebe’s cross on 34 minutes to put David Moyes’ side ahead.
But Nicky Law struck a powerful equaliser to ensure a draw in a match which saw Steven Naismith make his debut from the bench.
FC Kaiserslautern 2-2 Fulham
Mladen Petric hit both goals as Fulham came back from 2-0 down to deny the German side victory on a stormy afternoon in Weingarten.
Ilian Micanski fired home and and Albert Bunjaku headed in as Fulham slumped behind, but Petric’s double ensured parity.
Sunderland 3-2 FC Groningen
Late goals from Fraizer Campbell and Ryan Noble produced a dramatic turnaround which secured the pre-season Peace Cup for Sunderland in South Korea.
Connor Wickham put the Black Cats in front from close range, but the Dutch side levelled through Hyun Jun Suk’s acrobatic effort and took the lead before half-time courtesy of Mitchell Schet’s low drive.
But Campbell turned the ball in from close range before Noble fired in a dramatic and spectacular injury-time winner.
Hertha Berlin 3-2 Norwich City
Two goals from James Vaughan were not enough to prevent Chris Hughton’s side falling to a friendly defeat in Austria.
Vaughan produced two deft finishes, but the German side won thanks to a hat-trick from Elias Kachunga.
CDR Quarteirense 1-1 Reading
Ian Harte’s excellent second-half free-kick was not enough to give Reading victory.
Jason Roberts had hit the post early on before Harte’s effort, but the Portuguese outfit levelled late on.
Evian TG 0-1 Southampton
A first-half strike from Jason Puncheon was enough to make it two wins from two for Saints on their mini-tour of France.
The only goal came on 35 minutes as Puncheon fired in a low shot following Morgan Schneiderlin’s pass.
West Ham 2-1 Colchester
A Nicky Maynard goal and a Mark Noble penalty earned the Hammers victory against League One side Colchester.
Maynard finished early on and was fouled in the box soon after to enable Noble to fire in from the spot – although Anthony Wordsworth hit a consolation for the U’s.
£20 million target two years ago, Aston Villa should consider Abel Hernandez again
The Uruguayan is out of contract at Hull City this summer.
In the summer of 2016, Aston Villa were in talks to sign Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez from Hull City.
The £20 million deal looked to be good to go, until it came time to discuss salary, according to a report by the Sun.
It was claimed that Hernandez wanted £70,000-a-week to join Villa and then an increase to £100,000-a-week should Villa win promotion to the Premier League.
Those terms were considered unsatisfactory and Villa pulled the plug.
One year later, Hernandez was again linked with Villa.
Aston Villa chairman Tony Xia soon made it clear that wasn’t happening either. He was quoted by Birmingham Live as stating:
“Never will happen after last summer. Good for us.”
But what about this summer? Should Villa swoop for Hernandez once again?
There are many reasons why the Uruguayan would now be a more logical signing.
Hernandez is out of contract at Hull this summer.
The 27-year-old is therefore available on a free transfer, a massive bargain considering Villa were prepared to pay £20 million just two seasons ago.
Hernandez would also not be able to command such a wage on this occasion.
In 2016 the striker was coming off the back of scoring 22 goals in 45 games for the club and winning promotion to the Premier League.
Since then he has not been as prolific and also battled injury trouble. £70,000-a-week is simply not a possibility.
His best season with Hull actually came under the management of Steve Bruce, which might also help Villa in convincing Hernandez to Villa Park at a lower cost.
This season Hernandez managed just three games before suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon. In those three games, he scored three goals.
If Villa fail to earn promotion this season then there are not many better goalscorers available at this level – never mind on a free transfer.
Since returning to action Hernandez has played three times, scoring three goals – giving him a 100 per cent record of six goals in six games for Hull City this time.
If Villa can come to an understanding over wages, Hernandez would be the perfect summer signing.
Jonathan Kodjia could become an Aston Villa hero
The Ivorian is set to return to first-team action after the international break.
Aston Villa’s automatic promotion hopes have come off the rails in recent weeks. For a while, it seemed Villa were going to upset either Wolves or Cardiff and break into the top two in the Championship. After a run of just one loss and one draw in 12 games, which ended in a 4-1 thrashing of Wolves, it was easy to see why.
Unfortunately, those hopes have come crashing down to earth. Villa have suffered two shock defeats in their last two outings. Firstly there was the 3-1 home reverse to QPR. Last weekend it was the turn of Bolton Wanderers, with Villa losing 1-0 at the Macron Stadium.
The international break could therefore not come at a better time for Aston Villa, who will hope to see some of their regulars return to action after injury.
One such player could be Jonathan Kodjia. The Ivory Coast striker has not played since the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City in October. The 28-year-old is suffering from another ankle injury and has been sorely missed up front.
But it appears he is nearing a return.
Kodjia featured for 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly against Peterborough United at Bodymoor Heath.
His return to action would be a huge boost for Villa. Whilst Kodjia can be a frustrating figure at times, he is also a top striking option.
Last season Kodjia scored 19 goals in the Championship and his firepower at this level has been sorely missed. With Scott Hogan out of form Lewis Grabban has been handed the burden of finding the net, Kodjia will hope to ease that responsibility.
If he can return to action at Villa Park and score the goals that send them back to the Premier League he will go down in Aston Villa folklore as a hero.
For a man with Kodjia’s character, that is an opportunity he will try to not let pass.
Is Oscar Borg’s Aston Villa career at an end?
The young left-back is out of contract at Aston Villa this summer.
Back in March 2016, Aston Villa snapped up promising left-back Oscar Borg from West Ham United.
According to the Daily Mail, the defender had trials with Manchester United and was highly thought of at West Ham, but he made the move to Villa and was soon making an impact in the reserves.
Recently Aston Villa found themselves short of left-back options.
Neil Taylor was out of action and Alan Hutton was also missing. With Axel Tuanzebe struggling, Villa found themselves short in the position.
But instead of calling on Borg, Steve Bruce called up James Bree, playing out of position at left-back.
It seems Borg may not have been available for Bruce, even if the 20-year-old was set for a first league call-up.
He has not featured for Villa’s under-23s since the 6-1 win v Wolves last month, with Mitchell Clark featuring at left-back instead.
Borg is undoubtedly a top talent at Aston Villa but injuries have been a major problem for him since arriving at Bodymoor Heath.
He spent most of last season on the sidelines and this year needed to be a breakout campaign for the talented full-back.
Borg has played 13 times for Villa’s under-23s this term, as they hunt for success in the Premier League 2, where they are currently second in their section behind Blackburn Rovers.
But, despite being Villa’s only other natural left-footed left-back, bar Taylor, the 20-year-old has made little impact in the first-team.
Borg only signed a two-and-half-year deal when arriving at Villa in 2016 and that contract expires in the summer.
Considering his lack of impact and history of injury problems it will not be a surprise if Borg does not remain a Villain beyond the end of the season.
If he does move on, hopefully, he can remain fit and push toward a professional career elsewhere.
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