The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE international midfielders Jordan Zemura and Marvelous Nakamba were yesterday conspicuous by their absence as their sides AFC Bournemouth and Aston Villa, respectively, met with contrasting fortunes on Match Day 2 of the English Premier League.
Villa eased past Everton 2-1 in a lunch-time kick-off at Villa Park, while the Cherries were thrashed 4-0 by champions Manchester City.
According to reports from England, Bournemouth boss Scott Parker was forced to make three changes for the fixture against Manchester City, as Dominic Solanke and Zemura were both forced to miss out due to injury and Covid-19.
This gave Jack Stacey, Lewis Cook and Ryan Christie a chance to start.
Zemura had been primed to test his pedigree against Manchester City following a blistering start to life in the English Premiership last weekend.
He starred for Bournemouth as they defeated Aston Villa on the opening day, with goals from Jefferson Lerma and Kieffer Moore giving the hosts a 2-0 win at the Vitality Stadium.
Zemura burst onto the scene last campaign in a breakthrough season, helping the Cherries to promotion back to the English Premier League with 33 appearances.
But yesterday, a positive Covid-19 test returned earlier in the week bowled him out from getting a chance to line up against rampant City.
The champions made it two wins from two as they thrashed Bournemouth at the Etihad.
Zemura would have been watching in anguish as City wasted no time getting into their stride in the sunshine as Norway striker Erling Haaland marked his home debut with an assist for Ilkay Gundogan’s opener after 19 minutes.
With the first goal on the board, City cut loose and scored a sumptuous second 12 minutes later as Kevin De Bruyne curled a fine strike into the net with the outside of his foot.
Phil Foden added another before halftime from De Bruyne’s assist, and it was just a matter of how many more the hosts would help themselves to.
Haaland’s moment in front of goal came late in the second half, but he failed to connect properly with Jack Grealish’s pull-back.
It mattered little as a late own goal from Jefferson Lerma put the icing on the cake, with City maintaining their 100 percent start to the new campaign at a canter.
Separately, what was more telling for Zimbabwean Villa fans in particular than the win over Everton was Nakamba’s continued absence from match-day squads, amid concerns over the both his fitness and future at the club.
The win over Everton was the second game in a row that the 28-year-old Warriors defensive midfielder has been missing.
Nakamba featured in both of Aston Villa’s pre-season friendlies before making the squad for their tour or Australia, but the 28-year-old hasn’t had a single minute of football since, which raises uncertainty over his future this summer.
He was given 45 minutes in Villa’s 4-0 win over Walsall on July 9 and 45 minutes in their 1-0 win over Leeds United on July 17, but he was left out of Villa’s 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar on July 20 and the 2-2 draw with Manchester United three days later.
Instead, Steven Gerrard started John McGinn and Boubacar Kamara in midfielder against Brisbane Roar before replacing the pair with Tim Iroegbunam and Douglas Luiz at the restart.
Against United, Gerrard started Jacob Ramsey with McGinn and Kamara before replacing the trio with Luiz, Iroegbunam and Morgan Sanson.
That doesn’t bode well for Nakamba’s chances of featuring regularly this campaign, but it doesn’t mean he will be sold this summer.
Lampard and Gerrard
Meanwhile, while Nakamba was missing in action, it was the first meeting as managers as Steven Gerrard’s Villa got the better of Frank Lampard’s Everton, securing their first Premier League points of the season in the process.
A spirited finish to the game almost saw Everton grab a dramatic equaliser, but Gerrard’s side did enough to hold on.
There was also no joy for ex-Warriors forward Khama Billiat in the South African Premiership as his former team Mamelodi Sundowns claimed a statement win in the DStv Premiership yesterday, thumping fellow heavyweights Kaizer Chiefs 4-0 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Smarting from a surprise midweek home defeat at the hands of TS Galaxy, the Brazilians emphatically bounced back, condemning the Amakhosi to a second defeat in the opening three rounds of the new season, thanks to goals from Gaston Sirino, Peter Shalulile (two) and new signing Abubeker Nasir.
The result sees the defending champions rise to the top of the table on goal difference ahead of Royal AM (who were beaten at Stellenbosch FC in a concurrent clash), while the Soweto giants (for whom the 4-0 score line represented a heaviest ever Premiership defeat) were given a fresh reminder of how far off the standard of a title-winning team they have fallen in recent years.
The Soweto side were thrown a lifeline when Teboho Mokoena needlessly committed a clumsy foul on Sekgota just inside the box, leading to a penalty for the visitors on 55 minutes.
However, former ‘Downs star Billiat saw his spot-kick and a follow-up effort saved by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams. -Sports Reporter/supersport.com
EPL Results and Fixtures
Aston Villa 2-1 Everton
Arsenal 4-2 Leicester
Brighton 0-0 Newcastle
Man City 4-0 Bournemouth
Southampton 2-2 Leeds
Wolves 0-0 Fulham
Brentford 4-0 Manchester United
Nottingham v West Ham 3pm
Chelsea v Tottenham 5.30pm
Liverpool v Crystal Palace 9pm