Two games took place on Sunday to end the Premier League weekend, and the early afternoon contest came from the East End as West Ham welcomed Arsenal to The London Stadium for a London Derby, and what a game it turned out to be as well…
West Ham United 3 Arsenal 3
Where do you start with this one? After 32 minutes it looked as if The Hammers would cruise to the points after opening a three-goal lead, but The Gunners showed some superb character to rescue an unlikely point from a truly entertaining contest in the Capital.
West Ham flew out of the traps and totally bossed the opening exchanges, and on the quarter-hour mark hit the front when Michail Antonio wriggled down the left and cut the ball back to Jesse Lingard who took a touch before lashing past Bernd Leno into the roof of the net, and then two minutes later the hosts added a second when Lingard caught the Arsenal defence cold, shifting a ball to Jarrod Bowen who got a shot away from the angle, and saw the ball squeeze through Leno’s grasp in at the near post, the keeper should have done much better, and the visitors were all over the place.
And just past the half-hour mark, it looked as if Arsenal were going to take one hell of a beating as West Ham made it 3-0 after Antonio’s powerful header from a Vladimir Coufal cross saw toed over the line by Tomas Soucek, it was wonderful football from the Hammers, but awful defending from the Gunners, and it looked like a long afternoon was forthcoming for the visitors.
But things took a turn eight minutes before the break when Callum Chambers engineered a cross from the right and it found Alexandre Lacazette who swivelled and fired towards goal and saw it take a deflection off Soucek before finding the bottom corner, and Arsenal had a lifeline going into the break, and then just past the hour mark another own goal from the hosts had Arsenal right back in the contest when another superb cross from Chambers saw Craig Dawson turn the ball into his own net, and it was very much game on.
West Ham had a golden chance to seal the win with just under fifteen minutes to go when Said Benrahma drifted beyond the Arsenal back line and fizzed a ball across goal for Antonio who dangled a leg at the ball, made contact, but saw the ball come back of the post, it was a golden chance, and it proved a very big miss as Arsenal managed to salvage a point with eight minutes to go when a lovely teasing cross from Nicolas Pepe was perfect for Lacazette to rise above the Hammers defence and thunder a header home to complete a remarkable comeback it has to be said.
Phew well over to you Villa and Spurs, who did battle in the evening kick off at Villa Park…
Aston Villa 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2
What a week it has been for Spurs, losing the North London derby before that debacle in Zagreb in midweek, and with the outspoken views of skipper Hugo Lloris as well, it would be interesting to see how it would affect them in this fixture against a Villa side who were still without Jack Grealish, well initially it seemed Spurs were suffering a hangover from all of the shenanigans of a difficult week as they started this one very sluggishly indeed as Villa dominated the ball and looked a threat without testing Lloris.
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Villa’s general all-round play had been good but they didn’t have their first attempt of any note until just before the hour mark, not good enough in truth, but after a short spell of attacking play, Spurs added a crucial second with just over twenty minutes to go as Kane went to the by-line but mis-controlled and as Matty Cash attempted to block what he thought was going to be a cross, he caught Kane on the leg and the Spurs striker tumbled to the deck and Mike Dean pointed to the spot, was it clever play by Kane, probably, but Cash really should not have dived in as the ball was going out of play.
In any case, Kan stepped up and converted the spot-kick as he often does, and Spurs now had breathing space. Things were to change though just before the half-hour mark when Spurs struck with their first real meaningful contribution to the contest, as after Carlos Vinicius chased a lost cause, he forced keeper Emiliano Martinez to come and clear but it was a poor clearance which was pounced on by Lucas Moura who then drove forward and played a ball to Harry Kane, he then, in turn, played a beautiful ball into the path of Moura who had continued his run, and Moura squared across goal for Vinicius who tapped home into the empty net and Spurs had the lead.
It was the one moment of quality in the first half of very little in the way of that, and after a poor start from the visitors, they headed into the dressing room a goal to the good.
Villa in truth never threatened to get back into this contest, and Spurs ran out comfortable winners, in the end, to go into the top six and just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with nine games to go, for Villa, they desperately need Grealish back, and he should be back after the international break and Villa will be glad about that, as their season threatens to end in a whimper with their European dreams fading fast.
Let’s have a look at the Premier League table after the weekend’s action…
The top three look pretty set now with nine rounds to go, whereas the fourth spot is very much up for grabs although Chelsea will take some shifting, just five points separate them in fourth and Everton in eighth, so still all to play for there, Arsenal and Villa will still harbour hopes of a top-six finish and Europa League chances perhaps, although that is fast becoming an outside bet now.
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Down at the bottom, it looks bleak for West Brom and Sheffield United, whereas it looks increasingly likely that the final relegation spot will be between Newcastle and Fulham after Brighton’s big win over the Toon and remember those two meet on the final day of the season at Craven Cottage, that could end up being some game!!!
The Premier League takes a two-week international break now and resumes on Easter Weekend at the start of April, so the clubs can have a well-earned rest as they prepare their assault on the final few weeks of the season.