Sports

EPL: All square in West Midlands’ derby as Villa, Wolves draw

*Saints end winless run with victory over Blades

*Xhaka error costs Arsenal three points

Aston Villa’s European hopes suffered another setback as they were held to a goalless draw by Wolves in their West Midlands derby.

The hosts, who suffered a surprise loss to Sheffield United in midweek, dominated the early stages with Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa both hitting the crossbar.

But with the influential Jack Grealish again missing as he recovers from injury, Villa faded after the break as Wolves sparked into life.

However, the visitors missed several gilt-edged chances to snatch all three points with Romain Saiss blazing an effort over the bar from practically on the goal-line after Conor Coady had headed against a post.

And another close-range effort from Coady drew a superb save from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to ensure the spoils were shared.

Meanwhile, Southampton won for the first time in 10 Premier League matches as Che Adams’ spectacular strike helped Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side claim all three points at Sheffield United, whose slim survival hopes took another blow at Bramall Lane.

Adams rifled a half-volley into the top corner four minutes into the second half, ending a run of 16 games without a goal in all competitions.

Saints, who lost Danny Ings to an early injury, had broken the deadlock when James Ward-Prowse sent Aaron Ramsdale the wrong way from the penalty spot following Ethan Ampadu’s clumsy challenge on Nathan Tella, reports the BBC.

Takumi Minamino should have added a third for Southampton when he fired wide from Ryan Bertrand’s low cross, while Adams, Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong all went close late on.

The Blades had chances of their own but only tested Fraser Forster twice throughout the 90 minutes.

The win lifts Saints 10 points clear of the relegation zone, while Chris Wilder’s side remain rooted to the foot of the table – 12 points from safety.

And Arsenal were denied victory by the woodwork, some heroic Burnley defending and the video assistant referee amid a dramatic late onslaught as Granit Xhaka’s error ultimately cost the Gunners dear.

After Xhaka’s errant pass struck Chris Wood for a bizarre equaliser to cancel out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener, Arsenal piled on relentless pressure in the closing stages.

The Gunners thought they had been awarded a penalty against Erik Pieters but the spot-kick and the defender’s red card for deliberate handball were overturned by VAR after replays showed he had diverted Nicolas Pepe’s shot onto the bar with his shoulder.

That was not the end of the late drama as Ben Mee’s block denied Aubameyang a sure-fire winner in stoppage time before Dani Ceballos crashed an effort against the post with almost the last kick of the game.

Ultimately, however, the blame for the dropped points will be laid at the door of Xhaka, who was sent off in the Gunners’ December defeat by Burnley and had another day to forget against the Clarets.

Receiving an ill-advised short pass facing his own goal from keeper Bernd Leno, he tried to clip a square ball to David Luiz across the penalty area but succeeded only in hitting Wood in the midriff and the ball bounced into an empty net for the softest of levellers.

Buoyed by the unexpected gift, Burnley controlled a scrappy second half before Arsenal’s late siege but Leno first produced a fine save to keep out Erik Pieters’ dipping 30-yard volley, and then used his leg to deny Wood in a one-on-one.

A fifth successive home draw inches 15th-placed Burnley seven points clear of the Premier League bottom three, while Arsenal remain 10th, their hopes of a late push for European qualification hindered by two dropped points.

RESULTS

Burnley 1 – 1 Arsenal

Sheff. United 0 – 2 Southampton

Aston Villa 0 – 0 Wolves

 

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