Arsenal vs Leicester City Report: Three Points Are What Matters


On a day where many Arsenal fans were hoping and probably even expecting a big bounce back win against the last place side in the Premier League, the Gunners were left wanting.  

The Arsenal side put forward  did surprise me a little.  I thought at home against Leicester City might be a good opportunity to give Laurent Koscielny’s achilles a rest and give a debut to our new boy Gabriel.

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More concerning to me, though was the inclusion of Alexis Sanchez.  Maybe I’m just a bit jaded after the mountain of injuries over the past seasons, but I would have liked to see him sit out one more as we are not lacking options out wide or up front.  I was however glad to see Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky get another go in the starting lineup.

Leicester, on the other hand, set up about as you would expect a bottom side to lineup at the Emirates.  They set up in a 5-4-1 or as one of the NBC commentators described it, they were “set up to avoid a drubbing.”  Mission accomplished Nigel Pearson.  

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the personnel on either side of the tunnel though, was the appearance of Leicester manager Nigel Pearson who had reportedly been sacked after this weekend’s loss to Palace.  To be fair, Leicester did officially deny the rumors though.

The First Half

The match began a lot like at the weekend with both sides really up for it and consequently both getting their share of chances.  Specifically for Leicester, Riyad Mahrez was the stand-out man.  He looked really impressive down the left against Hector Bellerin and almost put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute after an impressive ball forward from Esteban Cambiasso.  

A few minutes later Arsenal had an equally impressive chance shot down by an impressive bit of defending to knock out a ball nearly in goal.

The opener would finally come from an Arsenal corner in the 27th minute.  

The in-swinging corner from Ozil found Koscielny on a near post run and he finished it neatly.  It really is great to have a defender like him in the side who you know is going to bag a few every year.  

On a sidenote, is it just me or does Laurent seem to get clobbered every time he scores?  For some reason today and the FA cup semi-final last year stand out in mind.  Anyway…

The next real chance came when Mahrez (who else?) was picked out inside the 18 yard box and tried to curl one in.  It ended up  going wide but only by a narrow margin.  

Then, four minutes before half, Arsenal got their second.

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Mesut Ozil capped off another impressive half back from injury with a great run and let loose an absolute screamer at the Leicester keeper, Mark Schwarzer.  Schwarzer uncharacteristically did not deal with the shot very well and it fell fortuitously to Theo Walcott.  Theo put it away in recent Theo fashion, making it look really easy.

The match went into the half 2-0 with the Gunners probably looking to add to the lead in the second half.  Leicester supporters surely felt as if this matches a microcosm of their season.  A truly talented side which has consistently played well and just not quite job the job done in the final third.  I don’t know what Pearson said to them at the half, but maybe we should get him in our locker room.

The Second Half

The second half started with what would end up being the trend of the next 45 minutes – the Leicester attack.  It really was all Foxes and it culminated in the 62nd minute with Kramaric’s first goal for Leicester City.  After an extended period of Cambiasso hand ball, Leicester attack, a deflected Mahrez (who else?) cross was slotted home by Leicester’s January signing.

If you ask me, while Ospina really can’t be blamed for the goal, maybe he should have been better.  Deep down I still think Wojciech Szczesny is the better keeper and maybe this performance will get him back in the squad.  Ospina only made me uncomfortable all match, especially in the air, a forte of the Pole.

The rest of the match, however uncomfortable (Pearson had Nugent, Ulloa, and Kramaric all on the pitch near the end), ended with 3 points to the good guys.  A couple of things stand out in my mind.  

First, while he fell off in the second half, Ozil remained in remarkable form.  He could/probably will be a crucial part of our title? top 4 push and seeing him in form and especially willing to attack and shoot, something I thought he was lacking previously, is incredibly encouraging.

"“I feel that we were in control for the first half but when we were in control they had one or two good chances on the counter-attack. In the second half we lost our cohesion, our technical superiority and Leicester was always dangerous going forward. They are very quick in transition from defence into attack. At 2-1 we became a bit nervous but overall what was important for us was to get the three points.”-Arsene Wenger"

Second, Per Mertesacker and Kos did have a great day in the defense.  An ever present Leicester attack was time and time again repulsed by the central defense pair and Kos even got a goal to show for his fine display.

Third, unfortunately , Theo and eventually Giroud were less than impressive.  They both  seemed to (unsurprisingly)  lack in defense and the Frenchman spent an inordinate amount of time on the floor.  That being said, if Theo is going to score every game – he’s 3 for 3 in starts since injury – I don’t really care.

The bad news….  Alexis seems to have picked up another knock in the first half (why did he keep playing in the second, up 2-0?), and Aaron Ramsey was only on the pitch 9 minutes before he was forced off.  

It has been a difficult year for Ramsey between lack of form and injury, and this is certainly the absolute last thing he needed.  Let’s hope it’s not as bad as initially feared, but Wenger said it was a hamstring which is normally at least 3 or 4 weeks.  He just can’t see to catch a break.

On a day where there was definitely a lot to complain/wonder about, we got the 3 points in the end.  That is really all that matters and all that is left for us Gooners to do is hope the side can push on against Middlesbrough this weekend and Crystal Palace in the next league fixture.  

Oh yeah, and Sp*rs lost, what a perfect time for Super Mario Balotelli to show up.


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