EPL Wrap-up: The Andy Carroll Show

West Ham 3-3 Arsenal

West Ham's Andy Carroll scores 3

West Ham and Arsenal are both reaching the point in the season where any dropped points could completely derail their ambitions. Arsene Wenger’s men went into the match in third place, and 11 points behind Leicester City for the top spot in the table. While Arsenal’s title push is pretty much out of reach at this point, supporters still wanted to see their side finish the season strong and with a flurry of good results. West Ham, on the other hand, were fighting for the fourth spot in the table and were three points behind Manchester City for that invaluable spot. In this London Derby, it was clear that both clubs needed all three points.

The Hammers started the match on the front foot, and looked the more likely to score in the opening minutes. Manuel Lanzini put the ball in the back of the net in the 14th minute, but was controversially ruled offsides. West Ham’s strong start was undone four minutes later, however, after Alex Iwobi played in Mesut Özil. The German provided a clinical finish past Adrián and gave Arsenal a somewhat undeserved lead.

In the 35th minute, Iwobi again played provider, this time finding Alexis Sanchez wide open on the left side of the penalty area. Sanchez took a touch and then slid a shot into the back of the net to double Arsenal’s lead. As the match looked to be getting out of hand, Andy Carroll stepped up for the hosts. Ten minutes after Sanchez’s strike, the former Liverpool striker headed home Aaron Cresswell’s cross to give his side some momentum going into the break.

As the match approached the final seconds of injury time in the first half, Carroll again stepped up for West Ham with a highlight reel finish. A failure to clear from a corner kick gave the English striker a chance from inside the penalty area. After his first shot was blocked, Carroll went airborne and delivered an acrobatic scissor kick past David Ospina to level to scores and put West Ham in great position to take all three points.

Dimitri Payet thought he had given West Ham a dream start to the second half when he hammered home into an empty net, only for an Andy Carroll foul to cancel out the strike. Carroll would make up for this mistake minutes later as he headed home Michail Antonio’s cross to secure a hat trick and give the Hammers their first lead of the match. Could Arsenal find a way back into the match?

Less than two minutes later, it was the captain, Laurent Koscielny, that found Arsenal’s third goal of the match. The French defender hit a lovely side-footed volley into the top corner to put the Gunners on level terms and now they could think about grabbing a winner.

The two sides exchanged chances to close out the match, but neither was able to find an all-important winning goal. The shared points don’t really benefit either club as they now sit further away from their goal. Arsenal are now 13 points off the title pace, and Wets Ham find themselves five points behind City for fourth. Is there enough time in the season for the Irons to make a push?

Manchester City 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

With West Ham dropping points against Arsenal, Manchester City were in prime position to solidify their hold on the final Champions League spot. Standing in the way of Manuel Pellegrini’s side was a visit from West Brom. The Baggies didn’t really have anything left to fight for in the season as they sat on 40 points, safely out of the relegation fight. Would this apparent lack of motivation pave the way for an easy Cityzens victory, or could Tony Pulis’ men throw a wrench into the European aspirations?

In the sixth minute, it looked as if West Brom might just pull off the upset. Stephane Sessegnon got the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and hit a quick shot to the near post. Joe Hart was late to react, and West Brom suddenly found themselves a goal ahead at a sparsely crowded Etihad Stadium.

Sessegnon would again be the focus of attention ten minutes later, but not for the right reasons. The 31-year-old was beaten by Aleksander Kolarov in the penalty area and clipped the Serbian’s legs to give City a penalty kick. Sergio Agüero stepped up to the spot and buried his effort into the bottom right corner. After Agüero’s goal, Pellegrini’s side began to impose themselves more and more on the match, and had to be seen as the favorites going into the second half.

After the hour mark, City finally took the lead thanks to a blonde-haired Samir Nasri. A good run by Kevin De Bruyne set up the chance, and after Agüero’s initial shot was blocked, Nasri slid the ball into the back of the net. Were there any more goals to come?

Saido Berahino had West Brom’s best chance of the half in the 74th minute, but his point blank effort completely missed the net. Four minutes later, Agüero forced Ben Foster into a kick save to keep the deficit to just a single goal. Neither of the clubs would find another goal in the final ten minutes of the match, and Manchester City fans must now be extremely confident of securing the fourth spot in the table.

Tottenham 3-0 Manchester United

The match of the weekend had to be Manchester United’s trip to White Hart Lane. Leading up to the match, I was extremely confident in my team’s ability to steal all three points against Tottenham, but wow, was I wrong. With points becoming more and more valuable, United couldn’t afford to drop any results, especially against another top-four contender. Tottenham needed the win to keep their slim title hopes alive after Leicester City trounced Sunderland 2-0 earlier in the day. Luckily for the Spurs’ faithful, their club showed up in this big match.

This highly anticipated fixture actually had to start 30 minutes late due to United’s team bus getting stuck in traffic. Despite this limited preparation time, the Red Devils actually started the match off brightly as they controlled possession and looked the more comfortable of the sides. Typical of their season, however, they were unable to turn this possession into a meaningful chance and failed to register a shot on target.

After their slow start, Tottenham had two great chances to grab the lead just after the 25th minute. First, Harry Kane was a split second away from firing on an empty net only for Timothy Fosu-Mensah to deliver a goal-saving slide tackle to clear the danger. Moments later, Erik Lamela had a free header on the edge of the six-yard box but missed the net entirely. Two minutes later, Kyle Walker made a darting run into the box, and again Fosu-Mensah made calculated tackle to clear the danger and keep the score level going into the intermission.

United’s only real chance of the match came in the 62nd minute. A good run from Anthony Martial on the left wing looked destined for a goal, but his shot went straight at his compatriot Hugo Lloris. The 20-year-old provided United with their only offensive spark of the match, as the attacking line looked lost in the final third.

It all started to go wrong for United in the 70th minute. First, Christian Eriksen found Dele Alli with a cross and the 19-year-old easily tapped in past David De Gea. Four minutes later, Erik Lamela’s free kick found Toby Alderweireld, and the defender’s header left De Gea helpless. In the 76th minute, Lamela found the back of the net himself and capped off the worst six minutes of my life as Tottenham now sat 3-0 ahead.

Two minutes later, Harry Kane nearly added a fourth with a header, but De Gea delivered a skilled save to save some face for the Red Devils. When the final whistle blew, Tottenham had secured a well deserved victory and kept their title hopes alive. Spurs now sit seven points behind Leicester, while United are now four points behind Manchester City.

 

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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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