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Match Review: Arsenal vs Leicester City

 

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Danny Welbeck may have just revitalised a title winning campaign for his side, and what a way to do it. Arsenal won the game 2 goals to 1, with the winner coming in the final seconds which electrified the Emirates home support. It would be rude to compare Agueros’s last gasp winner with Welbecks, but the ex-Manchester United mans header might prove to be as pivotal. A win was the least Arsene and his side could take from this game, and they did that.

First Half

Arsenal started well, looking like they were not to be another side to join Leicester’s hit list. Inside the first minute we witness Oxlade Chamberlain and Mesut Özil combine intent-fully, and Sanchez narrowly missing from the resulting corner. Schmeichel had to prove he was at the ready when he came flying out of the natural goalkeeping habitat to snatch the ball from Aaron Ramsey’s path. Then, out of nowhere, as they have done continuously all season, Vardy connects with a cross into the box forcing Petr Cech to stretch to parry. This was to be the fuse for Leicester as they upped the anti breaking in numbers turning the Arsenal defence. However, chances were falling at both ends of the park as both defences looked impenetrable. Mesut Özil provided a delicious cross into the box, and one that Giroud could not refuse. The Frenchman nodded the ball past Schmeichel, as the fans lifted from their seats. However, the Arsenal fans raised in conjunction with the assistants flag, as Giroud strayed marginally offside. While the first half went on, the controlling dominance of Ngolo Kante became more notable, with the Frenchman succeeding in 6 tackles and making 8 ball recoveries alone in the first period. Arsenal were looking like a threat in the air, and it was showing in every single corner, a total of six, in the first 45. But it was not to be the Gooners to make the breakthrough as Monreal impeded Jamie Vardy in the box. Some say it was a soft penalty, but the referee, Martin Atkinson has definitely made the correct call. Vardy himself converted the spot kick just prior to the half time whistle.

Second Half

Arsenal, much like the first half, raced out of the blocks again with their intentions clear. Aaron Ramsey came close to equalising but the Welshman shooting boots were far from his feet. Riyad Mahrez had a penalty claim turned away by Atkinson, again with Monreal the culprit, but another correct call. The turning point in this game, and the one that arguably led Leicester City to their downfall was the quick successive bookings for Danny Simpson, meaning Leicester had to finish the job with 10 men. Riyad Mahrez was the unfortunate player to be sacrificed as Ranieiri tried to secure his back line, sticking on Marcin Wasilewski in left back. At this point, Wenger decided to unleash his attack as Theo Walcott was put on in place of defensive minded Francis Coquelin. And the Gunners were to be rewarded as Walcott struck the ball home to tie up the score. Arsenal continued to create chance after chance, but it looked like we would be settling for a point. Until the arrival of Danny Welbeck, who latched onto the silent assassin, Mesut Ozil’s cross to give Arsenal the victory in the dying seconds. 16 million pounds well spent, and how crucial this goal may prove.

Now just 6 points separate the top 4, with favourites Manchester City slipping to 4th. Arsenal and Spurs sit 2 points behind leaders Leicester, and with 12 games left to play, this title race is wide open. It doesn’t get much easier for Arsenal, with another huge game up next, away to Old Trafford.

Wenger’s Words

“It will strengthen our belief that we are in the fight. We had a bit of a dodgy spell, Liverpool 3-3, Stoke 0-0, lost to Chelsea, 0-0 at home with Southampton. Now after that we won two games and we are still mathematically in the fight, that will strengthen our belief”
“A loss today would have been massive, yes. Even after that you get all the negative vibes, the belief goes down, would have been much more difficult. We would not have given up, but eight points is three games to come back. We would need to win three , they would need to lose three.”
“You have Man City, Tottenham and of course Leicester are in it, so at the moment it is very tight. What we want to do is to create a consistency to have a chance to do it. We are conscious we have some big games to come up. It is down to how much can we put that kind of energy into every game.”

Match Stats

Arsenal
Shots: 24
Shots on Target: 6
Possession: 72%
Corners: 11

Leicester
Shots: 7
Shots on Target: 3
Possession: 28%
Corners: 1

Lineups:

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Chambers), Monreal; Coquelin (Walcott) Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Welbeck), Sanchez, Özil; Giroud.

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Mahrez; Okazaki, Vardy.

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