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first_img Peter Odemwingie scored his third goal in two games to equalise and four minutes later Peter Crouch took advantage of slack marking to put Stoke ahead. Leandro Bacuna and Nathan Baker both failed to clear their lines and Steven Nzonzi took full advantage, beating Brad Guzan from inside the box. Geoff Cameron rounded off the hammering in the final minute as Villa’s defence was stretched on the counter. Manager Paul Lambert had called on Villa to end an inconsistent season with a good run, but that seems unlikely if they put on more performances like this. Stoke, on the other hand, performed well, with Odemwingie a constant menace up front. Mark Hughes’ team, who had only won once on their travels before this weekend, leapfrogged Villa into 10th. Villa started just as they had ended last week’s game against Chelsea – on top. Lambert’s side exerted a lot of pressure on the Potters and it took just five minutes for Hughes’ men to buckle. Villa performed superbly to beat Chelsea last week, but on Sunday they thoroughly deserved a 4-1 beating. Christian Benteke gave Villa an early lead, but Stoke dominated thereafter. Press Association Ryan Bertrand found last week’s match-winner Fabian Delph, who muscled his way past his marker and pulled the ball back to Benteke and the Belgian took a touch to control before smashing a left-footed drive past Asmir Begovic. Delph and Bertrand combined well again, but no one could get on the end of the left-back’s low cross. Stoke started to come back into the game and Odemwingie was the main threat. The Nigerian bamboozled Baker and Ashley Westwood before curling a shot just over the bar. Odemwingie made no mistake with his finish moments later when he ran on to Crouch’s knock-down and slotted the ball past Guzan despite a last-ditch sliding tackle by Bertrand. Four minutes later Stoke took the lead. Erik Pieters won the ball off Bacuna and played a clever backheel to Marko Arnautovic. The midfielder brushed off a challenge and pulled the ball back to the unmarked Crouch, who beat Guzan with a simple side-footed finish. Things went from bad to worse for Villa when Karim El Ahmadi and Andreas Weimann hobbled off with injuries. The Villa boss replaced the duo with Marc Albrighton and Yacouba Sylla. Marc Wilson could have made it 3-1 but he misplaced a free header in the box. Stoke still managed to open up a two-goal lead before the break though and once again Villa’s defending was not up to scratch. Bacuna failed to deal with a simple lofted ball, allowing Arnautovic to run at the Villa back four. The Austrian winger then laid a weak pass in field which Baker diverted into the path of Nzonzi and he beat Guzan. Home fans left their seats to go for their half-time pie early. Many of those who remained booed their team off at the sound of the half-time whistle. Villa upped their game straight after the restart. Benteke went to ground in the box after the slightest of nudges in the back from Cameron. The striker and his manager appealed for a penalty but Mark Clattenburg shook his head. Benteke took his protest too far, shouting and pointing at the referee, who responded by showing the Belgian a yellow card. There was no sign of a Villa comeback thereafter. Their passing was woeful at times and Stoke had little trouble opening up the home defence. Odemwingie came in off the flank and fired a low drive that Guzan parried before Ron Vlaar hooked clear. The Villa captain missed a header at the other end. Lambert made a change, bringing on Grant Holt for Westwood. Hughes was also forced into a change when Pieters hobbled off with an injury. And the home fans left their seats en masse when Cameron turned home Arnautovic’s pass in the final minute. Stoke strolled to their first away win in seven months thanks to a woeful defensive display from Aston Villa. last_img read more

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first_imgAaron Rodgers can change the narrative around himself and the Packers, but he can’t do it alone.That is the lesson after a week of dissecting “What Happened in Green Bay,” a Bleacher Report piece that details the erosion of the relationship between the quarterback and former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy while the organization slipped down the pecking order of the NFC North over the last two seasons after dominating most of the decade. NFL MOCK DRAFT 2019:Packers find Rodgers a new weaponNow nobody else has as much at stake as the 35-year-old Rodgers does in terms of perception.Not McCarthy, who will be a head-coaching candidate again next year. The 55-year-old ranks 28th all time in winning percentage among NFL coaches.Not Greg Jennings or Jermichael Finley, the former Packers who were quoted in the story taking shots at Rodgers. Jennings has been doing this since he left Green Bay after the 2011 season.Not James Jones, Jordy Nelson or any of Rodgers’ other former teammates, not to mention legions of Packers fans, who rallied to defend their QB in the aftermath of the article’s release.Not Dunne, whose outstanding investigative piece detailed the turmoil in Green Bay that led the franchise to back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1990-91.MORE PACKERS:Rodgers reveals 2018 injury detailsNot team president Mark Murphy, who according to Bleacher Report told Rodgers, “Don’t be the problem,” when it comes to the working relationship with new coach Matt LeFleur.Not general manager Brian Gutekunst, who after making Rodgers the NFL’s highest-paid QB has addressed some of the Packers’ biggest roster holes via free agency and can add more in the 2019 NFL Draft.Not even LaFleur, who is tasked with matching the standard of Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren and McCarthy as a first-time head coach.This is now about Rodgers more than anybody else. In Green Bay, ignorance of arrogance is no longer bliss, and Rodgers, who turns 36 in December, still has a handful of seasons left to re-write a script that all sides can believe. Rodgers has changed the narrative in Green Bay in the past, like when people were split on then-GM Ted Thompson’s letting go of Brett Favre in 2007, only to watch Favre embarrass the Packers twice as the Vikings’ QB two years later. Many remember those games, but not as many cite Rodgers’ returning the favor twice the following season en route to the franchise’s latest Super Bowl.That was Rodgers at his best, with the inferiority complex that led to the kind of play matched by only a handful of quarterbacks in NFL history.Somehow, criticisms of Rodgers’ play persist. Tom Brady is better, and here’s why. … Rodgers does not have ‘it’ when it matters most. (Anybody who still does not think Rodgers has the “it” factor on the field has missed the fourth-quarter Houdini acts he has pulled over the last three seasons.) Yet the Packers’ alternative — life without Rodgers — is a team that needed overtime to beat the 0-16 Browns in 2017.Now Rodgers’ leadership — not his play — will be the focus. And it should be. His body language will be monitored on a Jay Cutler-like level, especially in his interactions with LaFleur. That’s because of the close-ups of Rodgers-McCarthy spats over the last few seasons.There is enough in the story that Rodgers’ locker-room behavior will be over-analyzed, too. Nelson, Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews are gone. Bryan Bulaga and Mason Crosby are the only other starters from the Super Bowl team still on the roster.Will Rodgers be willing to collaborate with LaFleur and create a fresh vibe with a young offensive cast? Or will Rodgers’ ego get in the way with a 39-year-old coach who must fight the perception of being just another Sean McVay sidekick? Remember, McCarthy was the new voice Favre needed after the Packers went stagnant under Mike Sherman and bottomed out with a 4-12 record in 2005. Perhaps LaFleur will be a similar voice for Rodgers.MORE: Why Packers’ roster reset will lead to 2019 playoff berthThe story will change if Rodgers plays like a two-time MVP again by, strangely, throwing less. Rodgers had a career-high 597 pass attempts last season, and despite his throwing just two interceptions, the same hit-or-miss running game was a problem. Green Bay’s new offense must feature Rodgers but can’t rely too heavily on his second-half magic acts. The defense and special teams must be better, too.Then maybe the Packers can get back to the top of the NFC, which starts with taking back the division. Green Bay is 3-8-1 against NFC North opponents over the last two years. That needs to be restored, and with it, more playoff chances will follow.That is the only way Rodgers can change the pre-written narratives that follow a Hall of Fame quarterback when more was expected. Dan Marino knows this, and the comparison of the two QBs is common, with Rodgers having the one-ring edge.It is a fair comparison, but Rodgers still has time to solidify himself as a top-five QB of all time. He might not catch Brady, but he can still make a run at Peyton Manning, a player around whom the perception changed when he won a second Super Bowl. Now nobody remembers the time Manning called Mike Vanderjagt “that idiot kicker.” (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/2a/4c/aaron-rodgers-packers-121118-getty-ftr_1pp49j9iqbbut19xflvd3styus.jpg?t=-1629630777&w=500&quality=80center_img Aaron Rodgers (Getty Images)Rodgers’ re-writing began earlier this week via a radio interview with Jason Wilde and former teammate Mark Tauscher on ESPN Milwaukee. Rodgers gave McCarthy a half-measure of praise. Then he unloaded on Finley and Jennings, which was justified given the number of times both have taken shots at the quarterback since they left Green Bay. Rodgers is right; it’s time for them to move on.But Rodgers also took an unnecessary shot at Dunne. This article was not a “smear” as Rodgers described it, and he can’t manipulate media to his satisfaction on the level of, say, LeBron James, who constantly faces similar questions about his leadership.Unlike James, however, Rodgers remains with the franchise that drafted him. He can silence the criticism by proving himself on the field all over again.That seems to be when he is at his best.  This is what’s at stake now for Rodgers.The Packers QB can grow from this, but if the Bleacher Report article is not at least an ego check, then no lessons will be learned.Rodgers has a lot to lose in terms of perception in the coming years, but amid the mess, it’s easy to forget he also has the most to gain.last_img read more

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first_imgIOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered probation for an Iowa businessman with deep ties to the Republican Party, saying he failed to show genuine remorse for assaulting a woman at his home last year. Judge Michael Huppert rejected a request by David Greenspon for a deferred judgment in the assault, which occurred at Greenspon’s West Des Moines mansion last November.Instead, he said that Greenspon would be convicted of assault with intent to inflict serious injury, and the aggravated misdemeanor would stay on his record even if he successfully completes his one-year probation term. Greenspon is the owner of Competitive Edge, a Des Moines advertising supply company.last_img read more