EPL Wrap-up: Top Four Struggles

Leicester City 2-2 West Bromwich Albion

It’s still weird to write about Leicester being title contenders. Going into Tuesday’s matchup against West Brom, the Foxes could even be called title favorites. Claudio Ranieri’s were two points ahead of Tottenham for the top spot in the table, and sat 21 points ahead of the Baggies. For Tony Pulis’ side, even getting just a point from this trip to the King Power Stadium would be seen as a major victory. Could Leicester roll through West Brom and continue their title push, or would the Baggies throw a wrench into the plan?

Ten minutes into the match, West Brom started their upset attempt. An inch-perfect through ball from Darren Fletcher put Salomón Rondón through on goal. The 26-year-old narrowly powered his first-time shot past Kasper Schmeichel to give the visitors a surprising one-goal lead. Redemption for Leicester came right on the half hour mark as Danny Drinkwater’s heavily deflected drive looped over Ben Foster to put the Foxes back on level terms.

As the half drew to a close, it looked like the two sides were going to go into the intermission deadlocked at 1-1. In the first minute of stoppage time, however, a skilled knockdown from Riyad Mahrez fell to Andy King who hammered his shot past Foster. The title contenders were now back in front.

King’s goal just wasn’t going to be enough to secure victory in this match, as Craig Gardner stole the show in the 50th minute. After his side won a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area, Gardner hit a picturesque free kick into the top corner. Gardner’s goal stole a point for his side and temporarily gave hope to the teams that trailed Leicester going into the match.

West Ham United 1-0 Tottenham

With Leicester dropping two valuable points on Tuesday, Tottenham’s trip to Upton Park became even more important. A victory over West Ham would move Spurs level on points with the Foxes and give them even more momentum going into the final stretch of the season. For the Hammers, three points would potentially move them ahead of Manchester United up to fifth place and within touching distance of the Champions League. An away game against West Ham is never an easy task, but could Tottenham find a way to climb up the table?

It was a dream start for the hosts as they found the back of the net within seven minutes of the opening whistle. The team’s new talismanic midfielder Dimitri Payet whipped in a corner to the near post and Michail Antonio did well to flick his header on frame. The shot was too quick for Hugo Lloris who, despite getting a hand on it, couldn’t keep it from crossing the line. 1-0 West Ham.

The Hammers were nearly two goals ahead just before the half hour mark. Poor handling from Lloris from a back pass gave Emmanuel Emenike half a chance to pounce. Luckily for Spurs, the French goalkeeper just managed to clear his lines and keep the deficit at just a goal.

Tottenham’s best chance of the match came after an hour. Adrián stopped a long drive from Toby Alderweireld, but Harry Kane somehow couldn’t put away the point-blank rebound. While the 1-0 defeat doesn’t ruin Tottenham’s title challenge, it does limit the room for error they have heading into the final ten matches of the season. West Ham, on the other hand, still sit a point behind United in sixth.

Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City

Man City lose to Liverpool

This round of midweek fixtures seemed to be disastrous for teams in the top four. Based on results, it didn’t look like any club in the top four wanted to jump on Leicester’s dropped points as Tottenham lost to West Ham and Arsenal were shocked by Swansea City. Next on the slate, was Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool. The Cityzens had just defeated Jürgen Klopp’s club in dramatic fashion in the Capital One Cup Final, but it just wasn’t meant to be this time around.

After a quiet start to proceedings, Adam Lallana put his side ahead in the 33rd minute. The English midfielder took control of the ball in the heart of the pitch, and hit a hard drive into the bottom corner from 30 yards out. One commentator compared the shot to pulling out your putter from the fairway.

Liverpool’s dominant performance added another goal less than ten minutes later. This time, it was former City midfielder James Milner who got in on the action. The 30-year-old got on the end of Roberto Firmino’s pass in the penalty area toe poked his shot past Joe Hart to double his side’s lead and give them a death grip on the match going into the second half.

It there was any doubt that Liverpool would lose control of the match, it all faded away in the 57th minute. After getting slotted in by Lallana, Firmino placed his effort past Hart to seal a 3-0 victory for the Reds. The loss means that City are now level with United on points, but have a game in hand over their crosstown rivals. Liverpool are now in eighth, one spot higher than they were going into the match.

 

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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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