EPL Wrap-up: Jamie Vardy, Breaker of Records

AFC Bournemouth 3-3 Everton

The most dramatic weekend came at Dean Court where Bournemouth and Everton battled to a 3-3 draw. The Cherries entered the match in the relegation zone, 11 points and 12 spots behind their visitors. Roberto Martinez’s squad was on a four game unbeaten run, and a win would put them right on the edge of European qualification. Who would play the hero in this thrilling contest?

The opening 45 minutes saw Everton take control of the match. After Tim Howard denied an early chance for Bournemouth, the Blues started to impose their will on the match. In the 25th minute, summer signing Ramiro Funes Mori outleapt the Bournemouth defense to head home Ross Barkley’s corner kick. The Argentine’s headed effort gave the Toffees a 1-0 lead, and also marked his first goal for his new club. Everton’s man of the hour, Romelu Lukaku, doubled the visitors’ lead ten minutes before the end of the first half. The Belgian got on the end of a wonderful through ball from former Barcelona midfielder Gerard Deulofeu, and smashed his close range effort past Adam Federici. Lukaku’s 10th goal of the year doubled Everton’s lead, and gave them a commanding position going into the second 45 minutes.

On the hour mark, Lukaku should have put the visitors up by three, but he whiffed on a volley from six yards out. Bournemouth finally got on the board in the 80th minute thanks to Adam Smith. The 24-year-old collected the ball 20-yards-out, and hit an absolute beauty into the top corner. Just seven minutes later, Eddie Howe’s men seemingly completed their dramatic comeback when Junior Stanisias knocked in a Joshue King pass from close range. Everton weren’t finished, however, as Ross Barkley scored what looked to be the winner in the 95th minute. The Englishman somehow got possession of the ball in the penalty area, and snuck his effort past replacement keeper Ryan Allsop. Everton’s celebrations were short lived, as Stanisias would soon haunt them again. The 26-year-old’s headed effort in the 98th minute secured an invaluable point for the relegation threatened size, but wasn’t good enough to push them out of the bottom three.

Leicester City 1-1 Manchester United

Leicester's Jamie Vardy breaks record

Plumb Images

Saturday also showcased a match between the first and second place teams in the league as Leicester City hosted Manchester United. This game was bigger than just a top of the table clash, as Leicester’s Jamie Vardy looked to break former United striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of ten straight games with a goal. Louis Van Gaal’s Red Devils had faced criticism before the match about their defensive style of play, but a victory would put United top of the table.

After a slow start to the match, the visiting Devils started to finally show some attacking potential on the pitch. United earned two straight corners during their best offensive stretch of the match, but poor back tracking sparked a fatal Leicester counter attack. Kasper Schmeichel quickly released Christian Fuchs on the right wing and the Austrian international would end up assisting a historic goal. His no-look pass put Vardy behind the United backline, and he placed his close range effort past David De Gea to put the Foxes ahead and break Van Nistelrooy’s record. Vardy’s historic goal seemed to take all the punch out of the Red Devils’ attack as they struggled to break through an organized Leicester squad.

With a disappointing United defeat looking more and more likely as the half went on, the Red Devils had to turn to a legend of the game to get them back in the match. In the final minute of the half, Bastian Schweinsteiger got his head to a Daley Blind corner after a wrestling match with Shinji Okazaki. The German’s header was his first as a United player and would end up saving a point for Van Gaal’s team. In the 65th minute, Leonardo Ulloa had a great chance to put the Foxes ahead after yet another fast break, but his off balanced effort went straight at De Gea. United had one more clear chance before the final whistle, but Memphis Depay couldn’t control the ball and sent the ball miles over the net. When the final whistle blew, the two sides were still deadlocked at one, and now sit second and third in the league respectively.

Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal

Going into the weekend, most people probably would’ve just assumed that Arsenal’s trip to Norwich would end in an easy three points for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger’s men had a shaky week leading up to the match, losing to West Brom in the league, and then thumping Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 in Europe. The Gunners had slid down to fourth in the table, but still sat 12 places and 14 points ahead of their hosts. Norwich was in poor form, losing four of their last five league matches, and sliding closer and closer to the bottom three. Could the Canaries find a way to upset the Gunners?

After keeping their visitors at bay for the opening 30 minutes of the match, Norwich’s mistake led to a goal for Arsenal. After John Ruddy’s clearance failed to ease the danger on the net, Graham Dorran’s poor touch allowed Alexis Sanchez to get possession in the midfield and spark another attack. The Chilean winger found a streaking Mesut Özil on the edge of the penalty area, and the former Real Madrid man made no mistake in chipping Ruddy to give his side a 1-0 lead. Just before halftime, the Canaries found an equalizer. Strong dribbling from Robbie Brady left Aaron Ramsey on the floor, and then the 23-year-old found Lewis Grabban in the penalty area. Grabban muscled his way past Gabriel, before slotting his effort past Petr Cech to level the sides going into the break.

Early in the second half, Özil had a wonderful chance to give his side the lead after Sanchez’s cross somehow bounced over Ruddy, but the German couldn’t keep his volley down and the sides remained deadlocked. A couple minutes later, an Arsenal fan’s worst nightmare came to life as Alexis Sanchez was forced to exit the game with an apparent hamstring issue. Sanchez is the latest Gunner to find himself on the injury list, and fans will be hoping that they’re not without his services for long. It almost went from bad to worse for the Gunners in the 70th minute as Gabriel nearly put the ball in the back of the net with an errant header, but Cech made a vital diving save to salvage at least one point for his side. The result kept both sides in the same position as they were going into the match, but Sanchez’s injury severely weakens Arsenal’s hopes of pushing for the top spot.

 

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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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