Race for EPL top 4: Disappointing outings for Spurs, Arsenal

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Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal had disappointing outings while Manchester United and Chelsea drew over the weekend as the race for the top four of the English Premier League winds up.

Tottenham were beaten 1-0 at their new stadium by an underrated opponent; West ham United.

According to The Independent, Tottenham treated this derby like a dress rehearsal, and they paid the price. With not just one but two eyes on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final with Ajax they walked through this game, and straight into disaster.
West Ham United were good value for this 1-0 win, holding Spurs off in the first half and then picking them off on the break in the second. Michail Antonio scored the game’s only goal but it was far from their only chance in a second half in which Spurs looked tired and distracted.

It was only in the final minutes, with Vincent Janssen on as a substitute, that Spurs started to threaten an equaliser and by then it was too late. Now Spurs have missed an opportunity to tie up a top four finish. And whatever happens against Ajax at the Champions League, their last two league games suddenly have much more riding on them than they would have wanted.

Arsenal were a mess on Sunday, continuing their woeful run of three loses in three matches.

Arsenal suffered another damaging defeat at the hands of Leicester City on Sunday, thanks partly to a soft first-half red card, but not helped by a poor overall performance.
Unai Emery clearly had a gameplan to sit back and hit Leicester on the counter-attack, but the players weren’t able to execute on that. The Gunners’ counters were toothless and they didn’t look any more defensively solid despite all the men behind the ball.
Given that it clearly wasn’t working, tactical changes needed to be made, but by half-time it was already too late. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off after picking up two yellow cards for his only two fouls in the match, and Arsenal never looked like winning after that. The London club lost 3-0 to Leicester.

Two teams that are also aiming to finish in the top four; Manchester United and Chelsea played a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Another hideous mistake from David de Gea gave Chelsea a point at Old Trafford and surely ended Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the top four.

United’s midfielder, Juan Mata has this to say about the game:

“We wanted to win, we needed to win, so we are disappointed. We played well in the first half; that’s how we should start every game, to be honest. David is unquestionable – his level has been fantastic for this club. The amount of points he has earned us in the last seven years is incredible. We all have good and bad moments in our career, and he is determined to react positively. He’s one of the best in the world. It will be very difficult for us to finish in the top four now. We have to win the last two games and see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool and Manchester City continued their grinding contest for the Premier League championship this season as both teams won their games. Liverpool tore Huddersfield apart in a 5-0 thriller on Friday and Man City were aided by Aguero’s brilliant in a difficult match against Burnley on Sunday, which they won 1-0.

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