EPL Wrap-up: Arsenal Buries Man City

Manchester United 1-2 Norwich City

Things haven’t looked good for Louis Van Gaal at Old Trafford. The Dutch manager hasn’t guided his team to a victory since November 21st and he’s also seen the squad knocked out of the Champions League. Last weekend, the Red Devils sunk to a 2-1 defeat away to Bournemouth and a visit from Norwich City appeared to be the perfect chance to get a much needed rebound victory. The Canaries weren’t in the best of form either having failed to win a match since November 7th. A trip to Old Trafford was hardly the place for Norwich to snap this winless streak, but there are always surprises in this beautiful game.

United actually looked bright to start the game off. The hosts dominated possession as expected, but they also had an attacking flair that had been lacking for the majority of the season. Despite this good start, it was Norwich that took a shock lead in the 38th minute. A great piece of counter attacking play from Alex Neil’s side saw Cameron Jerome with acres of space running into the final third. After slipping past an Ashley Young slide tackle, the 29-year-old buried his effort past David De Gea to put Norwich a goal to the good. Even with their dominance in possession during the opening 45 minutes, the Red Devils failed to produce a goal, and they entered the dressing room deservedly trailing their relegation-threatened guests.

Things went from bad to worse for United less than ten minutes into the second half as Norwich doubled their lead through Alex Tettey. Another quick counter attack from the Canaries put the Norwegian international through on goal and his precise finish left De Gea helpless in net. Anthony Martial gave the Red Devils a glimmer of hope in the 65th minute after he cannoned his close range effort into the roof of the net, but there was no more goals to follow. When the final whistle blew, Van Gaal’s United had fallen to Norwich and questions of the Dutchman’s future immediately started circulation through the media. United now sit in fifth place and out of the Champions League, while Norwich are now out of the relegation zone in 16th.

Watford 3-0 Liverpool

Out of the three promoted clubs this season, Watford has been by far the most impressive. Going into Sunday’s visit from Liverpool the Hornets sat seventh in the table and four points out of the top four. Since losing to Manchester United back in November, Quique Flores has guided his squad to three straight victories. Their guests, on the other hand, have quickly become title contenders since the appointment of Jürgen Klopp in October. The former Borussia Dortmund manager has seemingly reinvigorated the Reds and a win on Sunday could have seen them jump from ninth in the table all the way up to sixth. Would the “normal one” be able to guide his club to yet another victory?

It was a nightmare start to the match for the visitors as Chelsea loanee Nathan Aké found the back of the net just three minutes into the match. A seemingly harmless corner from Watford floated into the Liverpool penalty area, but a botched handling from backup keeper Adam Bogdan put the ball in Aké’s path and the 20-year-old tapped in from just yards away. Watford’s historic day continued in the 15th minute when their star striker Odion Ighalo doubled their lead. The 26-year-old, who had already scored ten times this season, muscled past Martin Skrtel to get on the end of Troy Deeney’s long ball and then thrashed his effort past Bogdan. Aké and Ighalo’s first half goals put the hosts in the driver’s seat going into the second half, but Klopp’s squad still had a fighting chance.

Ighalo nearly delivered the dagger in the 65th minute after slipping behind the Liverpool backline, but Bogdan made himself big and kept the Reds’ deficit to two. Heurehlo Gomes was forced into a big save just minutes later when he tipped Jordan Henderson’s volley over the net in order to maintain a clean sheet. Watford finally sealed all three points in the 85th minute when Ighalo headed in a cross from Valon Behrami. The team’s leading scorer then provided the best highlight of the match by celebrating with the giant hornet mascot in the corner. Despite the victory, Watford still sit seventh in the league, but they are now just two points out of the top four.

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City

Giroud scores for Arsenal

The showcase match of the weekend had to be Manchester City’s fixture against Arsenal. The Gunners and the Cityzens sat second and third in the table, respectively, and were separated by just a single points. Arsene Wenger’s were in good form going into the match having won their last three matches while also qualifying for the Round of 16 in the Champions League. City were in similar form coming off of back-to-back victories over Swansea City and Borussia Mochengladbach, but a loss Monday would put them six points off of Leicester City for the top of the table. Because the Foxes beat Everton on Saturday, no result could Arsenal or City back to the top of the table, but it would keep them within touching distance of the leaders.

The match started off with both clubs failing test the opposing keeper. Kevin De Bruyne had the first real chance of the match on the half hour mark, but his shot from right side of the penalty area slid just inches wide of Petr Cech’s goal. The Belgian could have passed to a wide-open David Silva on the other side of the box, but great positioning from per Mertesacker blocked off the Spaniard and the Gunners would immediately punish the miss. Less than two minutes later, Theo Walcott got the ball on the left wing and cut back to the top of the box. Walcott’s curled his shot past a diving Joe Hart and into the far side netting to give the Gunners a one-goal lead and about ten minutes Olivier Giroud would double it. The French striker, who has been in amazing form as of late, got on the end of a Mesüt Ozil pass and then slid his shot through Hart’s legs. Arsenal’s late flurry of goals put them up by two going into the second half, and all of the momentum sat with Wenger’s club.

City came out firing in the second half and was clearly the more positive of the two sides out of the gate. Despite the early pressure, it was Arsenal who actually had the better chances with Joe Hart being forced into several crucial saves before the 60-minute mark. Twice the City goalkeeper denied Joel Campbell from close-range, and then he used his face to stop a near point blank effort from Aaron Ramsey. To make matters worse for the visitors, Sergio Aguero was forced out of the match through injury after just returning from a lengthy layoff. Yaya Toure, who had been anonymous for most of the match, gave the visitors hope in the 82nd minute with a casually brilliant effort from the edge of the area into the top corner. The Ivorian’s strike was too little too late, however, as the Gunners staved off City’s late push to grab all three points. Arsenal now sit two points off of Leicester City for the top of the table while City continue to fall off the pace.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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