EPL Wrap-up: Late Lallana Goal Seals Reds Win

Norwich City 4-5 Liverpool

Late Lallana winner

Image: Richard Calver/Rex/Shutterstock

It hasn’t exactly been the dream revival that Liverpool fans had hoped for since Jürgen Klopp took over. Going into the weekend’s matches, the Reds still sat out of European qualification and were forced to play a midweek replay against Exeter City to advance to the next round of the FA Cup. A trip to relegation-threatened Norwich City had the potential to give Klopp’s club a much-needed three points heading into February.

The goal fest at Carrow Road started just before the 20-minute mark, after James Milner found Roberto Firmino ghosting in behind Norwich’s backline. The Brazilian midfielder, who has enjoyed a revival of his own as of late, hit a first time effort that caught Declan Rudd on the way through, but the keeper’s touch wasn’t enough as the ball barely snuck in off the post. After Firmino’s goal, the visitors continued to press Norwich for a second, but Norwich found an equalizer out of the blue through Dieumerci Mbokani in the 29th minute. After a series of failed clearances from a corner, the ball finally looped back into the box, and Mbokani delivered an emphatic back-heeled goal from six yards out to put his side level.

The excitement of the first half didn’t end there, as a former Everton player delivered a seemingly fatal blow just before the intermission. Steven Naismith, who was making his Norwich debut, made a darting run into the box and hit a perfectly placed low shot past Simon Mignolet. Norwich 2, Liverpool 1. After the excitement of the first half, the second 45 minutes had a lot to live up to. It didn’t disappoint. Within the first ten minutes of the half, Naismith drew a penalty from Alberto Moreno and Wes Hoolahan slotted home from the spot.

Norwich’s two-goal advantage lasted all of about three minutes. A flick on from Firmino in Norwich’s penalty area found Jordan Henderson, and the English midfielder hit a first-time shot to pull the Reds within one. The breakneck pace continued in the 62nd minute when Firmino netted his second of the day with a close-range finish to equalize. James Milner finally put Liverpool ahead in the 65th minute after a horrendous back pass from Jonathan Howson put him one-on-one with Rudd, and the former Man City man easily found the back of the net.

As if the first 90 minutes weren’t exciting enough, stoppage time would deliver another two goals to the match. First in the 92nd minute, Sebastien Bassong hit a powerful drive from outside the penalty area to seemingly save a point for the hosts. Then in the 95th minute, Adam Lallana answered with a volley bounced into the top corner to end a nine-goal thriller. The Reds are now seventh in the table, while Norwich sit just two points above the relegation zone.

West Ham 2-2 Manchester City

Earlier this season, West Ham United traveled to the Etihad and shocked Man City with a 2-1 victory. On Saturday, the Hammers hoped to recreate that win, and steal another three points from the Cityzens at Upton Park. Manuel Pellegrini’s side went into the match as the third best team in the league, just a point behind Arsenal and Leicester City for the top spot. West Ham, on the other hand, were on the outside looking in for European qualification, sitting two points behind Manchester United for fifth in the table. Could either of these two talented teams take the spoils?

It didn’t take long for West Ham to take the lead, as Enner Valencia scored in the first minute of play. The goal started with an excellent run from Cheikhou Kouyaté, and the Senegalese played a deflected pass for Valencia to hammer home from just inside the penalty area. Sergio Aguero nearly scored a wonder goal with a brilliant lobbed effort, but the ball bounced harmlessly off the post. The Argentine wouldn’t have to wait much longer to score, however, slotting home a penalty in the ninth minute after a clumsy foul from Carl Jenkinson. West Ham’s player of the season, Dmitri Payet, surely thought he had found the back of the net in before halftime, but Joe Hart pulled off a wonder save to deny the Frenchman’s free kick.

West Ham and City traded chances at the start of the second half with Delph coming the closest after his shot rang off the post, but it was the Hammers that would open the scoring. Enner Valencia got on the end of a long throw from Michail Antonio and tapped home from close range to put the hosts a goal to the good. It just wasn’t to be for the Hammers, however, as Aguero netted a brace of his own in the 81st minute with a composed finish past Adrian. A point apiece, pushed City up to second, but West Ham remained behind United in sixth.

Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea

Something about the combination of Diego Costa and Arsenal always leads to controversy. This weekend’s matchup at the Emirates didn’t disappoint. A Leicester City victory on Saturday meant that the Gunners needed all three points if they wanted to jump back to the top spot in the table. Meanwhile, Chelsea were just trying to salvage whatever they can after a disastrous start to the season. For the first time in over two years, Arsenal and Chelsea faced off without an Arsene Wenger vs. Jose Mourinho side story, but would the change in coaching dynamic change the Frenchman’s luck against Chelsea?

It was an exciting start to the match as both sides pushed for an early goal. Joel Campbell and Oscar exchanged chances in the first two minutes, but neither side was able to break the deadlock. The moment of the match came in the 18th minute. Willian sent Diego Costa through the Arsenal backline, and Per Mertesacker was just a second late on his slide tackle as he brought down the Spaniard. Mark Clattenburg decided that the German denied a clear goal scoring opportunity and sent him off. After the match, Wenger told reporters that he believed Costa was trying to get Mertesacker sent off. Mertesacker’s red card was the second time Arsenal have had a player sent off against Chelsea this season, with Costa also playing a key role in Gabriel’s dismissal earlier in the campaign.

To rub salt in the wound, Costa scored just five minutes later with a close range volley. Chelsea continued to push for a dagger the remainder of the half with Costa and Branislav Ivanovic both coming close, but Petr Cech kept the deficit to one. Chelsea was unable to further capitalize on their numerical advantage in the second half, but the Gunners also failed to create any clear cut chances of their own. The result pushes the Gunners down to third in the table, while Chelsea jump up one spot to 13th.

 

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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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