Weekends on which the top 4 sides play their direct title rivals on the same day have always been a rarity. With Leicester travelling to the Emirates and Manchester City hosting Tottenham, it promised to be an exciting Sunday and boy did it live up to the expectations!!
Even the purest of the purists would’ve forgiven Leicester for going to Emirates and playing “negatively”. But the Foxes went there evidently looking for a win and not just a point. With Kante being their star man of the 1st half, Leicester did well to close Arsenal down and allowed them no space. Arsenal struggled and got no shots on target. Leicester were rightfully (atleast in my opinion) awarded a penalty towards the end of the first half and were good value for their win going into the break.
In the 2nd half Danny Simpson’s tug of Giroud’s arm earned him a 2nd yellow. What a silly way to go off in such a crucial match.
The tide changed from then on and it was only a matter of time before Arsenal equalised. And equalise they did, with Theo Walcott.
Wave after wave of Arsenal attack were stopped by a resilient Leicester back line with Kasper Schmeichel pulling of a couple of brilliant saves. In the end they fell just short with Danny Welbeck coming off the bench and scoring a dramatic injury time winner for the Gunners. The Manchester United DNA at work? Perhaps.
For Arsenal Mesut Ozil was a disappointment on the day, despite eventually bagging an assist. He looked off his game, lost the ball far too often and didn’t influence the game too much from open play. Aaron Ramsey on the other hand had one of his better games of this season. Despite losing, there are a lot of positives that Leicester can take away from this game and if they don’t allow this result to rattle them, they will continue to be in the thick of the title race right till the end.
At The Etihad Spurs put in an outstanding performance and were better than Manchester City in every department. Mauricio Pochettino set his team out positively as he always does and it worked. Manchester city didn’t seem to have answers to the questions Spurs were posing.
Despite their wonderful performance, Spurs were slightly lucky to be awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute. The ball hit Sterling’s arm, yes. But I don’t think that was a deliberate handball of his arm was in an ‘unnatural’ position. Hary Kane tucked the penalty away. Mancity did equalise with substitute Kelechi Iheanacho getting on the scoresheet before Chritian Eriksen eventually won the game for Spurs in the 83rd minute with a wonderful finish. Despite the dubious penalty, I think Spurs deserved the win.
Mancity have now lost at home to two of their direct title rivals, which might have already cost them the title. The loss against Spurs puts them a bit off the pace, trailing Leicester by 6 points. Not an unbridgeable gap by any means but they have Arsenal and in form Spurs to overhaul before they can get to Leicester. After their draw at home against Southampton, serious questions were raised about Arsenal’s title credentials and the win at the weekend does some good work to repair that damage. They are now 3rd. Despite their loss Leicester still find themselves at the top of the table leading 2nd place Tottenham by 2points.
But the biggest winners of the weekend were Tottenham. With 5 wins in a row, they are in top form and playing some wonderful football. They are within touching distance of the top and their considerably better goal difference might well end up being worth a point come the end of the season.
“Spurs last won the league in the sepia-tinted days of 1961” said the commentator at the start of the game, this season is their best chance to change that.