Written by Contributer: Sean Gallagher
EPL Roundup Matchday 26: Gripping Rivalry Game between Leeds and Man United Delivers; Tottenham Defeat Man City in Instant Classic; Top-4 Race Heating Up
Even when there isn’t a perfect looking game on the schedule, this weekend showed the Premier League can be dramatic and gripping. Let’s take a look at the best moments from around the league!
Leeds vs Manchester United (2-4)
Take a moment to appreciate what a truly classic game this was! This is the first time we got to see a Leeds home game with fans against their rivals Man Utd in the Premier League in nearly 20 years. We got a bit of everything: horrendous weather, plenty of goals, rowdy (and at times scandalous) home supporters all on top of what is already a huge historical rivalry. Throw in Man Utd in that scenario who already make headlines for the wrong reasons in nearly every game and you get the match we witnessed on Sunday morning.
Leeds are struggling, no doubt about it. I’ve never been a fan of their manager Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play which entails an all out press/attack that consistently leads to conceding goals. In 8 of their last 10 they’ve given up at least 2 goals. That’s simply not good enough to compete in this league. As entertaining as it is to watch it isn’t producing good results and Leeds now find themselves in a relegation fight. Sunday’s game against Man Utd was no exception when the Red Devils struck twice in the first half to go into the break up 2-0. For Ralf Rangnick’s side that should mean game over. Of course, it wasn’t.
Leeds came out firing in the second half and did the impossible by scoring 2 goals in less than a minute evening the scoreline at 2-a-piece. It was madness, chaotic, dirty, and everything in between. These are the little things we missed last season when games were played behind closed doors; the intensity in a rivalry like this would be lacking.
Manchester United retook the lead when Brazilian player Fred scored 3 minutes after he subbed onto the game. During United’s goal celebration a coin was thrown onto the field by a Leeds fan and hit Man Utd player Anthony Elanga. A very unfortunate moment that you never want to see. What took this game from good to great, though, was Elanga then promptly scoring after this incident to ice the game in the 88th minute. The Red Devils left Elland Road victorious and Leeds are now forced to look over their shoulder at teams just below them. The big winners on the day had to be the fans who caught the game.
Manchester City-Tottenham (2-3)
Title race! Title race! The biggest game of the weekend delivered in a big way with Tottenham unbelievably righting the ship after multiple losses were beginning to plague their season. This game actually topped Leeds-Man United just for the incredible drama we witnessed at the end. It’s rare you see Man City draw in the Premier League let alone lose like they did on Saturday. They hadn’t been defeated since October when Crystal Palace came to the Etihad Stadium and shocked everyone with a 2-0 upset. Surely Tottenham, who had just lost 3 in a row in spiraling fashion, couldn’t come to Manchester and win?!
Something about Spurs and specifically Harry Kane and Heung-min Son always seem to give Manchester City problems. They beat them earlier this year making the North Londoners just the 4th team ever to “do a double” against Pep Guardiola’s Man City.
Tottenham didn’t waste any time applying pressure on City and Dejan Kulusevski continued his great form with his new club by scoring within 4 minutes. It was a classic linkup between Son and Kane and all Kulusevski had to do was slot it into the open net off of Son’s pass. The lead only lasted a half hour as Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris spilled a cross in familiar style to hand Ilkay Gundogan and Man City an equalizer before the break.
The second half belonged to Harry Kane. Against the club who attempted feverishly to buy him over the Summer, the Englishman took over and willed Spurs to victory. He was on the right end of another play with fellow-superstar Son and then scored what would’ve given Spurs a 3-1 lead in the 73rd minute. It was remarkable that he was able to beat Ederson near post, but the celebrations of Spurs and their traveling supporters were halted when VAR checked the goal and ruled Kulusevski offside in the buildup. This changed everything and kept Man City in the game down just a goal.
As Man City pushed to stay in the game for the final 20 minutes, they were rewarded when another VAR check went their way; a correct handball call on Spurs defender Christian Romero gave City a penalty in the final minutes. When Riyad Mahrez took a fantastic top-corner spot-kick to tie the game 2-2, it would’ve been enough to cement this game as nearly a classic. Of course it wasn’t done yet. Tottenham weren’t going to let this one end without pushing for a late-winner and that’s exactly what they got. Yet again it was Kulusevski in the build-up. And who else but Harry Kane on the end of a perfect cross heading it into the bottom right corner. The call by Peter Drury, the away fans losing their minds, a goal at the death it was just spectacular to watch.
- Liverpool beat Norwich after an early scare and look what happened! Man City lost and Liverpool amazingly control their own destiny as it stands. Of course there’s a lot of season left to play, but somehow we have a title race absolutely back on our hands
- Oh boy, Everton. They’re making me sound like a broken record. Frank Lampard and co. had a poor showing against Southampton and now face ramped up pressure from those below them. Watford, Newcastle, and Burnley all picked up points over the weekend which leaves the Toffees with little room for error. As if it couldn’t get worse Everton’s schedule is absolutely brutal the rest of the way
- Huge win for Wolves over Leicester. They probably weren’t the fully deserved winners on the day, but all that matters in the race for 4-7 are getting 3 points any way you can.
- Hakim Ziyech covered up a relatively poor game for Chelsea against Crystal Palace with a last-minute goal to win the match. Romelu Lukaku’s performances are becoming hard to watch. Chelsea’s big Summer transfer touched the ball just twice in the whole first half, and 7 times in the entire game
- Arsenal also kept up the top-4 pressure getting a deserved victory against Brentford. The Gunners sit in 6th at the moment and play 7th place Wolves for the second time in two weeks on Thursday. Very crucial game
- Newcastle just keep on competing and digging out points. They got an impressive point against West Ham on Saturday afternoon and continue to stay above the relegation zone. For where they were just a month ago it’s a huge step forward. The new transfers have been paying off