On a Sunday which provided so much hype and expectation in the Premier League, it did not disappoint, providing both heartbreak, and despair in equal measure – quite appropriate with it being Valentines Day, of course.
After the latest round of top-flight fixtures, we are still no further in determining who will win the title, and who faces the dreaded drop – the outcomes of the weekend’s matches will certainly go someway in settling those questions, once and for all.
DANNY WELBECK GLANCES ARSENAL BACK INTO CONTENTION
There is only one place to start our review this weekend, that being at the Emirates Stadium, where Danny Welbeck played the part of super-sub, scoring a last minute winner for Arsenal, as they defeated table-toppers, Leicester City 2-1 on home soil on Sunday lunchtime.
If this week does indeed define the outcome of who will win the league in May, then we were treated to quite the advert to the English game, which will certainly live long in the memory – should it be Arsenal celebrating a first triumph since 2004.
In a game marred by controversy, the visitors had Danny Simpson dismissed during the second-half, an event which turned the game on its head.
Early on in the game played in North London, both sides had their openings to gain the advantage, though the two goalkeepers, Petr Cech and Kasper Schmeichal, both had inspired games for their sides.
When the first goal did arrive, on the stroke of the interval, it split decisions, after Jamie Vardy was adjudged to tumble the outstretched leg of Nacho Monreal – Vardy brushed himself down to step up and crash the ball into the net from 12 yards.
Following Simpson’s second bookable offence, substitute Theo Walcott brought the Gunners level with 20 minutes to go – profiting from Olivier Giroud’s knock-down, to side-foot beyond the advancing Schmeichal.
Then, with eight minutes left, Danny Welbeck was introduced to the fray, amongst large tension inside the ground.
As the clock ticked down to the end of the game, a resolute Leicester backline looked to have earned a point, however in the 93rd minute, Mesut Ozil found Danny Welbeck – the England forward, who was making his first appearance since last April – diverted a header into the far corner, past the despairing dive of the excellent Schmeichal, to spark wild celebrations!
Leicester remain top of the league on 53 points, but the win for Arsenal now means that their lead is cut to two points.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR MAKE IT A GREAT DAY FOR NORTH LONDON WITH A LATE WIN OF THEIR OWN
How would Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur respond to events at the Emirates? Well, Spurs moved within two points of Leicester following a dramatic win at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday’s evening game.
Both of the two title contenders traded blows on an overcast late winter’s day in East Manchester, in what was a first-half of few opportunities – Christian Eriksen producing the only clear-cut effort, when his dipping drive from 25 yards forced Joe Hart to scurry across his goal to smartly palm away.
Manuel Pellegrini, who will leave his role at the conclusion of the season, may feel that the penalty that Spurs were awarded seven minutes into the second-half may sum up his final few months in the role, before Pep Guardiola takes charge in the summer.
Danny Rose’s cross was charged down by Raheem Sterling, who in the eyes of referee Mark Clattenburg, had handled the ball, despite turning his back on the cross.
Harry Kane, one of the Lilywhites leading lights this term, stepped up to convert his penalty past international team-mate, Joe Hart.
Arguably, that event in play was exactly what the fixture needed to bring it to life. Yaya Toure almost equalised for the hosts immediately, the Ivorian’s 25-yard free-kick beat Hugo Lloris, and thumped off the crossbar.
City did level the scores after 74 minutes gone, through teenage substitute, Kelechi Iheanacho – the Nigerian latched onto Gael Clichy’s cross to haul his side a lifeline as he found the top of the net from close-range, after Clichy’s through ball.
Eriksen turned one point into three with eight minutes to play. The Danish international connected with Erik Lamella’s defence splitting pass, to coolly shoot low into the net – restoring the lead.
A late barrage of pressure from City followed suit, but Spurs are up to second with the win, while City are now six points behind Leicester, they lie fourth in the standings.
LIVERPOOL HIT ASTON VILLA FOR SIX
The middle game sandwiched in Sky’s marathon of television coverage came at Villa Park, when basement boys Aston Villa were on the end of a 6-0 hammering to the hands of Liverpool.
Events swiftly took a turn for the worse, when Daniel Sturridge, and former Villa midfielder, James Milner had Jurgen Klopp’s side two to the good inside 25 minutes, on a sun-kissed day in the second city.
Emre Can netted a third just shy of the hour – that strike were added to by successful efforts on goal from Divik Origi, Nathanial Clyne and Kolo Toure, strikes which condemned the Birmingham outfit to a pasting on home soil against the rampant Mersysiders.
Remi Garde’s men are eight points from Premier League safety with 12 games to play – they look set to end 24 consecutive years in the league they have never been previously relegated from.
Liverpool, meanwhile, rise to eighth in the table.