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Son’s failure shows Premier League title will be won by inches

LONDON — Premier League titles are won over the course of a season, but there is always a defining moment that points to success or failure, and, for a split second, Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min had the destiny of Arsenal and Manchester City at his feet.

As he raced towards Manchester City’s goal in the 86th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Son would either push Arsenal to their first championship in 20 years or bring City closer to their fourth consecutive title.

But the fact that City now face West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, knowing that a victory would ensure they become the first team in English football history to win four titles in a row, is largely down to the fact that Son missed a golden opportunity to win the title. cancel out Erling Haaland’s first goal and equalize for Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs.

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With only backup goalkeeper Stefan Ortega to beat, Son had both corners of the net to target. But he aimed his low shot too close to Ortega, who blocked the effort with his outstretched right leg.

Had Son scored, the pendulum in the Premier League title race would have swung firmly back to Tottenham’s bitter rivals Arsenal, leaving City in second place, behind the Gunners on goal difference, heading into the final game of the season . When Son charged through on goal, City manager Pep Guardiola held his head in his hands before falling to the ground in a mixture of panic and relief when Ortega saved his team.

You can only imagine how Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and his players reacted when the opportunity presented itself to Son. Probably something along the lines of euphoria quickly followed by agonizing discouragement. That’s when the title was truly on the line – a split second almost at the end of a 38-game season.

But by the time both teams left the field, City had sealed a 2-0 victory. Haaland scored again, from the penalty spot following a foul by Pedro Porro on Jérémy Doku, just four minutes after Son had wasted the chance to equalize. The cold reality of the final scoreline doesn’t tell the story of what could have been for Spurs and for Arsenal.

City won, they moved two points clear at the top and Arsenal now need West Ham to avoid defeat at the Etihad – the Hammers have lost their last seven away league matches against City – to have a hope of finishing first. Arsenal must also beat Everton at home.

But the irony of Son’s defeat is that it was celebrated by Spurs fans. A post about X from the prominent Spurs fan account @HotspurRelated, published seconds after Son’s miss, showed the striker under a caption reading “Our captain.” It was full of sarcasm, as highlighted in the next post, an image of Son’s miss, next to the words “Hang it in the Louvre.”

It seemed like no one inside the stadium, except Spurs manager Postecoglou, was sad to see the striker missing. City fans were relieved and Tottenham fans were happy to avoid giving Arsenal a helping hand towards the title. Throughout the match, chants of “Stand up if you hate Arsenal” echoed through the stadium. When the match was lost to Spurs, the home fans chanted “Are you looking, Arsenal?” »

There was some satisfaction in the fact that Spurs were unable to disrupt City’s title race, although the home side could have done far more damage to Arsenal’s hopes had they not lost to them in the north London derby last month. For Postecoglou, the obsession with harming Arsenal rather than focusing on Tottenham’s own ambitions – a draw would have kept them in the race for Champions League qualification – was clearly a source of irritation.

“Outside, inside, everywhere,” Postecoglou said. “It’s been an interesting exercise. These are my observations. You can make your assessment. I probably misinterpreted the situation. But that’s okay.

“Maybe I’m out of step, but I don’t care, I want to win. What other people, what they want to feel and what their priorities are, doesn’t interest me at all.”

Despite the strange atmosphere inside the stadium, no one could accuse Postecoglou’s players of not trying to achieve a positive result. Rodrigo Bentancur, Brennan Johnson and Son all forced important saves from Ederson before the City no.1 was forced off the field after being injured during a challenge with Bentancur.

Ortega then broke into the gap and made a big save from Dejan Kulusevski before denying Son four minutes from time. Had Spurs been ruthless in front of goal it might have been a different story, and Arsenal, rather than City, would have gone into the final game in pole position.

But it was City who took their chances when the big moments arrived. Haaland tapped in from close range in the 51st minute after collecting Kevin De Bruyne’s pass, and the forward put the game beyond the home side’s reach when he scored from the spot in the first minute of added time .

City did what they always do: they punished teams for not taking their chances. But this time, it’s not the beaten team that suffers the most from their waste. It is Arsenal, Tottenham’s traditional rival, who will now have sleepless nights after this match.

His son might have one too, but it’s Arsenal’s nightmare rather than his.



News Source : www.espn.com
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