Arsenal, England and a tale of two very different stoppage times

<span>Composite: Getty, Shutterstock</span>
Composite: Getty, Shutterstock


Is this the silliest Premier League season yet? Things were already strange enough before mid-table Chelsea put four past title-chasing Tottenham a month ago; since then, the Barclays-o-meter has been pushed close to breaking point. The last 30 days of top-flight fixtures have been packed with late winners, multi-goal thrillers, drama, betrayal and rage. Much like Football Daily’s noisy neighbours, the Premier League appears to have an inexhaustible supply of fireworks.

It’s also fitting that the Hatters of Luton Town have bookended this wild run of games, which began in earnest when they forced Liverpool to grab a late leveller on Bonfire Night. Rob Edwards’ side took things up a notch on 5 December, taking table-toppers Arsenal the distance in a barnstormer. With the visiting Gunners in their day-glo away kit, the whole spectacle looked like a jumbo box of highlighters in a washing machine, and made about as much sense. It was a night of thunking headers, Ross Barkley turning the clock back and Aaron Ramsdale watching his replacement perform like a clumsy waiter.

Declan Rice’s towering last-gasp header turned a troubling 3-3 draw into a galvanising 4-3 win. Luton, meanwhile, will hit the ice baths before City rock up to the Kenny on Sunday. If they keep playing to their strengths, Football Daily’s new favourite team have a very real chance of staying up. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Scotland, already relegated from the top tier of the Women’s Nations League before they took on England in their final game, which packed in a surprising amount of stoppage-time drama for a 6-0 defeat.

Talk in the buildup had focused on Team GB’s Olympic qualification and a potential conflict of interest for Scottish players hoping to make the cut if England earned a place. The Lionesses had to win with a three-goal swing over the Netherlands, playing Belgium at home. Lucy Bronze exploited the open spaces to head home England’s sixth in the 93rd minute, by which time the Dutch were only 3-0 up. Sarina Wiegman then became a kind of human Livescore, holding up three fingers to her players as time ticked down. England then gathered in a post-match huddle, apps at the ready, just in time for the Netherlands to score a fourth. Damaris Egurrola’s Rice-like header sent them through to the finals in a moment so dramatic, we can practically hear Peter Drury’s commentary.

Egu–RROLA! At the Koning Willem II Stadion, as at Kenilworth Road, three goals have become four! Damaris’ Dutch delight, the Lionesses slain. Orange turned to Olympic gold …

You get the idea. Back at Hampden, England’s party was pooped and with it went hopes of a British women’s team at next summer’s Big Sports Day. Perhaps, given the awkward and avoidable situation Scotland were put in last night, and the increasing demands on players in the women’s game, that might not be a bad thing. One thing’s for sure, even with late goals flying in, this silly Premier League season is yet to offer that kind of drama after the final whistle – but don’t rule it out.


Join Scott Murray in the clockwatch chair from 7.30pm GMT for all the evening’s action, including Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester City, while Tim de Lisle will be on hand for MBM updates from Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea.


“Seeing a Muslim on the television, or at a live game, will hopefully strive to highlight to other young children, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to feel as though there are no barriers to them being involved in the professional game. A large part of my religion is to serve my community and becoming a match official is an incredible opportunity to do that” – Abbas Khan has been officiating in League One and League Two for six seasons and tells Morgan Ofori about striving to break down barriers.


I keep reading that teams are ‘two points (or even one point) clear’ at the top of the table’. In my mind, you have to be at least three points ahead to be clear, but four points would be definitively clear. I have no idea where I got this from, but know it to be true. Is there an unwritten rule of a three-point tolerance for being clear or have I imagined it? I have played in teams that have been clear, and I know nobody would have ever said in the pub after that ‘we’re two points clear’. It’s nonsense. If you’re clear, you can lose and not be caught. Similarly, I read yesterday that Liverpool were five points adrift of Arsenal with a game in hand. Adrift? In second place? With a game in hand? Please football pedants define ‘clear’ and ‘adrift’ before it goes too far” – Jimmy O’Brien.

Reading yesterday’s Football Daily about the amount of football to be available on television, I can’t be the only person to think of David Mitchell. I won’t attempt to humorously estimate the numbers and I don’t expect to win a book for mentioning it. Just click the link and watch the video” – Tim Scanlan.

Please can I be among the 1,057 readers to suggest that investigations into the break-in at Kurt Zouma’s home (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs, full email edition) should focus on known cat burglars. I knew they would get their revenge one day” – Richard O’Hagan (and 1,056 others).

Send any letters to Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Jimmy O’Brien, who gets a copy of Pretty Polly: The History of the Football Shirt, published by Pitch Publishing. Visit their brilliant football book store here.

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