EPL Wrap-up: 90th Minute Magic

Newcastle United 3 – 3 Manchester United

There’s a reason Newcastle is currently in the relegation zone: They leak goals at an unbelievable pace. Steve McClaren’s men have let in 38 in just 21 games this season. However, lately their porous defense hadn’t necessarily been the issue. This doesn’t mean Newcastle has been playing well (let’s not get crazy), but each of their last three defeats ended in a score of 1-0. How’s that for demoralizing? So when they hosted embattled manager Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, their goal-drought wasn’t likely to be quenched against one of the league’s better defenses.

Instead, the match we got was wildly different from our preconceived notions. You expected the Red Devils to control possession like they always do? Nah, Newcastle had the ball more. You expected Man United to fail to create many legitimate scoring chances? Three goals. You expected a typically drab affair between Van Gaal’s United and an awful Newcastle side? Nope.

Who else but Wayne Rooney, fresh off a game-winner vs. Swansea, to kick things off with a PK in the 9th minute? He wasn’t done though, as Rooney played helper almost 30 minutes later on Jesse Lingard’s goal. Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum got one back for his side shortly after; he now has 8 of their 22 goals on the year. What a pickup he was from Dutch powerhouse PSV. After Newcastle tied it, Man United fans had to think victory was ahead after Rooney’s thunderstrike in the 79th, but Newcastle left back Paul Dummet improbably matched Wazza with a screamer of his own in the 90th minute to earn a draw for his club, 3-3.

What can be seen as a moral victory for Newcastle has to be seen as another missed opportunity for Manchester United. Van Gaal’s side just can’t seem to put it all together in the same match. The way these teams are currently playing, we should be seeing Newcastle in the Championship come next fall, while Man U will be lucky to sneak into Europa League action.

Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal

Liverpool tie it late vs. Arsenal

Two 3-3 results in one matchday is something special in and of itself, but how about another 90th minute equalizer? Before we get there, we have to talk about those first 25 minutes. They were more intense than that 25-minute crash sequence in Flight, where Denzel flies a commercial plane upside down. The pilot here was Roberto Firmino, who lifted the match to early heights with two fantastic goals in less than ten minutes. If he can look half this good on a regular basis, maybe Klopp’s Reds can start to take off. However, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud weren’t ever going to let this get out of hand. Their two goals within 11 minutes of each other meant we had a 2-2 game on our hands with 20 minutes still to go in the first half.

Giroud was again the man in the 55th minute when he played a deft touch in the box that allowed him to wheel around and whack it past a helpless Simon Mignolet. Still, Liverpool had more shots and possession on the day, so another goal from them looked to be on the horizon. It wasn’t until the 90th minute, though, when substitute Joe Allen made the play of his season to knot the match at its death. Through thick rain, Allen met a falling ball in the Arsenal box with a clean, low strike into the back of the net.

Just like that awful 4-0 loss to Southampton recently, right as Arsenal seem to be ready to slip into the Premier League driver’s seat, they drop points in unexpected ways. Over the last several games this team remains in the best form of anyone in the table, but the Gunners just can’t seem to grab sole control of the steering wheel.

As for Liverpool, they continue to toil in the midtable. With Man United coming to Anfield on Sunday, they could use a full three points against a struggling club to gain some swagger down the stretch.

Tottenham 0-1 Leicester City

Throughout this unbelievable Leicester ride, many have claimed that once they play the big boys, the fun will come to an end. Well, we’re still waiting, because Leicester remain tied at the top of the table with Arsenal. In another inconceivable moment in a season full of them, Leicester took all three points from Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Although they lost to Liverpool, Leicester have, in the last month and a half, tied Manchester United and City, while knocking off Chelsea and now Tottenham. This ride is still quite exhilarating.

Both sides had their chances before the pivotal game-winner. A frozen rope from Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater and a crossbar close call from Harry Kane were not enough to get either team on the board. Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel was excellent in staying alert throughout 21 Spurs shots throughout the match, while the Tottenham defense mostly kept Leicester away from Hugo Lloris. Finally, an 83rd minute Leicester corner allowed defender Robert Huth to become the unlikely hero. With the ball delivered right in the middle of the box, Huth was able to drive a free header into the net. The Spurs’ defense that had been so stout only had themselves to blame for leaving an unmarked man.

Despite the loss, Tottenham need not pound the panic button. It was only their third of the season and they remain fourth in the table, however West Ham and Man United lurk right behind them. Through 21 matches, Leicester and Tottenham clearly have been two of the best four teams this season, although there are undoubtedly many twists and turns ahead before they reach the finish line.

 

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About the author: Drew Wendt

 

I'm the editor for SoccerPro's blogs and enjoy writing about The Beautiful Game myself. I follow US Soccer, Chelsea, and Dortmund. Since my hometown is St. Louis that means I'm left without an MLS team, but recently I've jumped onto the Sporting KC bandwagon. Non-soccer related interests include basketball, film, and music. Google+

Website: https://www.soccerpro.com

 

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