Arsenal beat 10-man Leicester City 2-1 to keep Premier League title hopes alive
Second-half goals from Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck cancelled out Jamie Vardy's penalty
Arsenal beat Leicester City 2-1 in a thrilling encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon. A first-half penalty from Jamie Vardy gave the league leaders a 1-0 lead before Theo Walcott came on as a substitute to level the game in the second half. But Danny Welbeck scored the winner in the final minute of injury time to give the Gunners three precious points to keep the pressure on the Foxes.
Arsenal: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker (C), Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan (C), Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton, Riyad Mahrez, Shinji Okazaki, Jamie Vardy
Before the game, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said: “We respect Arsenal, but we want to play our own game and show our strengths.” The Foxes had lost only twice in the league this season, one of those losses coming against the Gunners in September last year. This win saw Arsenal do the double over Ranieri’s side.
First Half: Vardy gives Leicester City the lead
Arsenal started the first half very brightly and had two chances in the very first minute. A quick counter-attack saw Alexis Sanchez release Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right but his low cross was put out for a corner-kick. The cross for the corner was sent to the far post and Alexis managed to get an acrobatic header off which went just wide of the post.
The Gunners dominated possession in the first 10 minutes of the game, seeing more than 70% of the ball, and were denied a penalty when Kante appeared to handles the ball in the box when Oxlade-Chamberlain tried to skip past him in the box but the linesman kept his flag down. Replays suggested that the ball hit the side of his abdomen as he tried to tuck his arm in.
Okazaki then had the Foxes’ first chance of the game in the 14th minute when a lobbed ball over the defence saw him clear on goal with only Cech to beat. But his volley off the lob sailed over the bar, much to the relief of the home fans.
The next minute first saw Arsenal break with Ramsey in open space but Schmeichel came out of his box to snuff out the danger. Second later, a cross found Vardy near the six-yard box but his header was low and Cech did well to get down low and make the save.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud played a quick one-two in the 25th minute to set up Alexis but his shot was blocked by Morgan. The resulting corner saw Giroud rise highest but he failed to get his header on target as it went over the bar.
Giroud then had the ball in the ball in the back of the net at the half-hour mark after back-pedalling in the box and heading a cross past Schmeichel but the linesman raised his flag for offside. Replays suggested he was marginally offside.
Kante then forced Cech into a fine save with a curling effort from near the edge of the box. The shot was headed to the far corner before the Czech goalkeeper parried it away for a corner.
The end of the first-half saw a controversial penalty call from referee Martin Atkinson. A counter saw Kante find Vardy before Nacho Monreal tried to nick the ball from him inside the box. Although there was no contact, Vardy cleverly stuck his left leg out to ensure there was contact and went down. The English striker himself stepped up and sent Cech the wrong way to score his 19th goal of the season.
Half-time: Arsenal 0-1 Leicester City
Second Half: Substitutes Walcott and Welbeck get the three points
Arsenal would find themselves in more trouble as Koscielny injured himself in the first half after his tackle on Kante (for which he was booked) and did not come out for the second half. Calum Chambers came on to take his place alongside Per Mertesacker as the French defender was diagnosed with a dead leg.
The Gunners had a chance in the first minute after the restart but Ramsey’s shot from outside the box was dragged wide of the post. But they kept at it as they looked to attack Leicester’s final third in numbers.
Nine minutes into the second period, the Foxes shot themselves in the foot when Danny Simpson got a second yellow card for pulling back Giroud. The red card reduced them to 10 men and Ranieri sacrificed Mahrez for Marcin Wasilewski to shore up the defence. It was the Foxes’ first red card of the season.
Ranieri then took off Okazaki to take the extra man out of attack and brought on midfielder Demarai Gray. Wenger then decided to attack and brought on Theo Walcott for Coquelin.
Wenger’s substitution worked as after numerous attacks. Bellerin’s cross into the box was headed down by Giroud and an unmarked Walcott ensured he put the ball in the back of the net to level the score at 1-1.
The home side then pressed for a second goal and came very close again when a cross into the box was acrobatically met in the air by Giroud but Huth was on hand to block the shot. The rebound fell to Ramsey in the box but he failed to shoot on target. A minute later, Ozil found Alexis making a run down the left towards the box but the Chilean forward’s shot was way off target.
In the final 10 minutes, Andy King replaced Albrighton while Danny Welbeck made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt this season after coming on for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Mertesacker then had the chance to score his first goal of the season when Ozil’s cross was floated in. The German defender tried to caress the header past Schmeichel but the attempt was inches wide of the post.
Schmeichel then made two saves to deny Giroud in the 87th minute – the first a stinging left-footed shot that was on target and the second an easier save from a header. It was all Arsenal in the final minutes with Vardy unable to create anything up front on his own.
Arsenal then got their second goal in the final minute of stoppage time when Danny Welbeck headed home Ozil’s cross from a set-piece. The win sees the Gunners temporarily move to second place with Tottenham Hotspur to play Manchester City later today.