EPL Wrap-up: North London Derby Drama

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal

Tottenham vs. Alexis Sanchez in North London derby

This weekend’s action started out with the biggest North London Derby of recent memory. Arsenal and Tottenham were both on the brink of slipping out of the title race, and a win for Spurs would actually send them to the top of the table for the time being. Arsenal, on the other hand, were coming off of back-to-back defeats and their star goalkeeper Petr Cech was ruled out for the next 3-4 weeks through injury. Could the Gunners overcome their abysmal form or would Tottenham get the best of their bitter rivals?

For the opening 30+ minutes, Spurs were by and far the most dangerous side on the pitch. Maurico Pochettino’s squad looked hungrier for the three points, and looked poised to grab the lead. Eric Lamela very nearly put Tottenham ahead in the 26th minute, but his shin-deflected shot was somehow kept out by a David Ospina reaction save. This point-blank block wouldn’t be the Colombian’s last close call on the day.

Despite the host’s early dominance, it was Arsenal that took the lead going into the intermission. Danny Welbeck started the chance when he found Hector Bellerin on the edge of the penalty area. The Spanish fullback played an excellent pass slightly behind Aaron Ramsey, and the Welshman managed to pull off an audacious back-heel flick to put the Gunners a goal ahead.

All of the momentum that Arsenal took into the second half was undone just under ten minutes into it. A reckless challenge from Francis Coquelin on Harry Kane earned the 24-year-old a second yellow card and a sending off; forcing Arsenal to play the remainder of the match with ten men. It didn’t take long for Spurs to take advantage of Coquelin’s mistake.

Within minutes, Kane stung Ospina’s stomach with a hard drive, but the Colombian keeper somehow kept the ball from crossing the line by what looked like a matter of centimeters. Ospina’s save was soon undone, however, as Toby Alderweireld slotted home from Spurs’ next corner. Harry Kane grabbed the equalizer in the 62nd minute with an absolute golazo from the edge of the penalty area. The talismanic striker got on the end of a back heel pass from Dele Alli and then curled his shot perfectly passed Ospina into the far corner.

After Kane’s goal, it looked like Tottenham had the match done and dusted but they just couldn’t hold on. In the 75th minute, Bellerin again played provider as he slotted in Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean’s shot snuck past Hugo Lloris and stole a draw for the Gunners. The result keeps Spurs and Arsenal second and third respectively, but the biggest winner of the derby has to be Leicester City.

Watford 0-1 Leicester City

With Tottenham and Arsenal both failing to take three points earlier in the day, the stage was set for Leicester City to take control of the title race. The Foxes went into the match just two points ahead of Tottenham, but a win would give them a commanding five-point lead with just nine matches left to play. Watford was in a very different situation as they found themselves 12th in the table. The match looked set for an easy Leicester victory, but Vicarage Road proved more troublesome than expected.

As expected, Leicester started the match on the front foot. Christian Fuchs’ drive in the third minute was nearly finished off by Shinji Okazaki only for Nathan Aké to block it just in time. Aké almost got on the board himself just minutes later, but his header flew just over the crossbar. Leicester dominated the first half, but the Foxes just couldn’t apply the crucial finishing touch to put Watford away.

The moment of magic finally came in the 56th minute. Riyad Mahrez, who has been one of the best players in the league this season, controlled a botched clearance on the edge of the area and curled his effort into the top corner.

What’s important for Leicester is that they still found a way to win even when they weren’t playing their best. The 1-0 victory puts the Foxes five points ahead of the rest of the pack and in prime position to win the league. It looks like it really is the Year of the Fox.

Everton 2-3 West Ham

While it didn’t quite have the implications of the other two matches we’ve talked about so far, West Ham’s trip to Goodison Park turned out to be a thriller. The Irons had just thrown a major wrench in Tottenham’s title plans last week with a 1-0 victory, and a win Saturday would elevate them about Manchester United into fifth place. For the Toffees, the match gave them the chance to potentially jump as high as eighth and above their bitter rivals Liverpool. In this goal fest, who would have the last laugh?

Adrián was forced into an acrobatic save just five minutes into the match as James McCarthy’s thunderous volley blazed towards the back of the net. Everton wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the opener as Romelu Lukaku’s tight-angle drive just crept inside the far post in the 13th minute.

Everton had the momentum for the majority of the first half, but it was all derailed just after the half hour mark. Kevin Mirallas, who had been booked earlier for simulation, earned his second yellow card for a late challenge on Aaron Cresswell. The Belgian’s reckless tackle sent Everton into the second half with just ten men, and it may have given West Ham just the boost they needed.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was Everton that actually found the second goal of the match. A smooth give-and-go between Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku saw the former slot his shot past Adrián to double Everton’s lead. The hosts had the chance to score a dagger from the spot in the 68th minute only for Adrián to deny Lukaku’s effort.

In the 78th minute, West Ham’s comeback started. Michail Antonio, who has been on fire as of late, got his head on the end of a Mark Noble cross to put the Irons within touching distance. Antonio played provider three minutes later as his cross picked out Diafra Sakho for the equalizer. The goals weren’t finished yet though, as Dmitri Payet tapped home in the 90th minute to steal all three points for his side and move them ahead of Man United for fifth in the table.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Recent posts in Arsenal

 

No Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Post of the Week