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Aston Villa Premier League season preview

Paul Lambert will be looking for progression from his evolving side Credit: PA

After a slow start to the 2012/13 season, Paul Lambert's methods eventually had an effect on the youthful Aston Villa squad, as his squad were kept alive in the Premier League.

Villa spent the majority of the campaign flirting with the bottom three, as Lambert's ethos of buying young players looked to have backfired, but the squad learnt from their early failures to pick up the necessary 41 points and finish in 15th place.

But how will Lambert's side fare in the 2013/2014 Premier League Campaign?

CLICK HERE to read the full Aston Villa season preview

West Brom manager Steve Clarke on Anelka

Clarke dismissed Anelka's 'Le Sulk' image as a press construct, saying the bearded attacker is "a very engaging character". Credit: PA

West Brom boss Steve Clarke insists there is "no downside" to having Nicolas Anelka within his squad, describing the striker as a popular member of the group.

Clarke signed Anelka, who had previously been a free agent, in July and the 34-year-old ex-France international has scored seven pre-season goals since then.

Clarke will be without Romelu Lukaku this season after the Belgium frontman, scorer of 17 goals for Albion while on loan from Chelsea last term, returned to his parent club.

Clarke made the comments speaking ahead of his side's 2013-14 Barclays Premier League opener against Southampton at home on Saturday

CLICK HERE to read the full look ahead to West Brom's Premier League campaign

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Leicester host Watford in first leg of play-off semi-final

by Michael Sibert
Leicester City's Anthony Knockaert (left) and Matty James (2nd right) celebrate as the final whistle blows against Nottingham Forest
Leicester City's Anthony Knockaert (left) and Matty James (2nd right) celebrate as the final whistle blows against Nottingham Forest Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

Leicester take on Watford tonight in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at the King Power Stadium.

Defender Paul Konchesky is expected to be fit for the game after he missed the 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest that confirmed Leicester's place in the play-offs over their East Midlands' rivals.

Watford missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season. Their goalkeeper Manual Almunia will undergo a late fitness test.

The second leg is at Watford's Vicarage Road on Sunday and the winner of the tie will face either Brighton or Crystal Palace at Wembley for a place in next season's Premier League.

Stoke City one step closer to safety

Stoke's win against Norwich virtually ensured their Premier League survival. Credit: PA

Charlie Adam ended a five-month goal drought to give Stoke back-to-back victories for the first time since December and leave the club on the brink of safety.

Adam's first goal since November 24 was enough to further ease the Potters' relegation fears following last weekend's 2-0 win at QPR.

Although Stoke have now hit the 40-point mark long heralded by boss Tony Pulis as enough to guarantee safety, mathematically they cannot count their chickens just yet.

Read the full match report by clicking here to go to ITV Football.

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Premier League report: Southampton 0-3 West Brom

West Brom striker Romelu Lukaku. Credit: PA

Referee Robert Madley had a Premier League debut to remember today, dishing out three red cards as West Brom romped to a record-breaking victory at Southampton.

Having made a rapid ascent up the leagues, the Yorkshireman was handed his maiden top-flight match at St Mary's - one many had expected to be a quiet affair

To read the full match report, click here to go to ITV Sport.

Match report: Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool

Christian Benteke challenges Daniel Agger during Villa's defeat to Liverpool. Credit: PA

Aston Villa remain in the Barclays Premier League bottom three after Liverpool came from behind to claim the three points and keep alive their faint hopes of securing a Champions League spot.

Villa looked on course for a third successive win after leading at the interval through Christian Benteke's 18th goal of the campaign.

But the Reds equalised through Jordan Henderson early in the second period and then skipper Steven Gerrard's penalty sealed victory for the visitors.

CLICK HERE to read the full match report on ITV SPORT

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