From the Back Pages, February 12: Relegation-threatened Aston Villa sack Paul Lambert after ten games without a win

ASTON VILLA have parted company with Paul Lambert, the club announced this evening. (The Express)

Wednesday, 11th February 2015, 9:05 pm
From the back pages

Every season, there are always the standout moments in the title race, when everything falls into place for the team that will eventually finish at the top of the league. For Chelsea, this felt like it could conceivably be one. The clock was just turning into its 90th minute when Willian let fly with his right boot and Chelsea had been agitated to the point that Branislav Ivanovic had been guilty of a headbutt that will surely warrant another Football Association disciplinary charge. (The Guardian)

At the biggest Premier League clubs, specifically at Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, with Liverpool on their tails, it is expected that the average first-team wage in five years’ time will be £10million per player per season, or £200,000 per week. (Daily Mail)

Manchester United 3-1 Burnley FT: Substitute Chris Smalling scores twice for below-par Red Devils. United were fortunate to take a point away from West Ham on Sunday but will be expecting three at home to Burnley tonight. (The Mirror)

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is expected to miss at least four weeks with the latest hamstring injury he suffered against Leicester City on Tuesday night. (The Telegraph)

On a Sunday afternoon in Johannesburg last month the art of the possible in batting changed for ever. AB de Villiers, sporting a pink ensemble which seemed like a contradiction, drove, pulled and generally smashed his way to 149 from 44 balls. His innings contained 16 sixes, most of them breathtaking in their design, and nine fours, which were almost mundane by comparison. Fifty years ago the Lord’s Day Observance Society would have called for immediate action, on the outfit alone. The timing of De Villiers’ spectacular intervention, in every sense, has created a fever pitch of anticipation that the 11th World Cup, which begins on Saturday, will be a festival of runs, a bonanza of rapid high-scoring. (The Independent)

Sydney Cricket Ground, 50 over match, England won toss: England XI (250 for eight) lost to Pakistan XI (251 for six) by four wickets. England completed their World Cup preparations with a four-wicket defeat to Pakistan as Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal put on a decisive 133 for the fifth wicket at the SCG today. (The Times)