Arsenal 2:1 Leicester City
Ten-man City came within seconds of earning a point at the Emirates on Sunday…
Claudio Ranieri was able to name an unchanged side for the the fifth game running, for this top of the table clash at Arsenal on Sunday.
There was an early spell of pressure for the Gunners which ended with Sanchez sending the ball narrowly wide from an Oxlade-Chamberlain corner.
City, chiefly though the work of the fantastic Kanté, then got a grip of proceedings. The quarter hour mark saw chances at both ends. Ramsey looked favourite to reach a through ball before Schmeichel came haring out of his goal, like a purple streak, to win the race and clear. City pressed forward and Albrighton chipped into the area where Vardy beat Koscielny in the air, but Cech got down smartly to save his downward header on the line.
Play continued to move from end to end – Giroud had a shot blocked by Morgan, and then Kanté delivered a curling shot that was clawed away by Cech.
Morgan, perhaps having one of his finest games in a Leicester shirt, then blocked a Sanchez effort, before Giroud headed narrowly over from a corner.
Giroud’s next header found the net, but the linesman’s flag for offside curtailed the home fans’ celebrations.
A minute before the break City delighted their followers taking the lead from the penalty spot. With the Arsenal fans appealing for a foul by Morgan on Ozil (something they had done for most of the half), City broke swiftly forward. Referee Atkinson waved play on after Kanté was floored and then Vardy burst into the penalty area where Monreal blocked his progress. The ref pointed to the spot and Vardy rattled the spot-kick home, sending Cech the wrong way.
The second half began in the same high-octane fashion as the first, and a key moment soon arrived. Simpson was booked for no more than a failure to get out of Sanchez’s way. The Chilean waved an imaginary yellow card and the ref obliged.
Mahrez then went over in the box after being clipped by Monreal’s knee, but play was waved on.
The moment that would change the game arrived in the 54th minute. In an Arsenal attack down the right, Simpson pulled Giroud back by the arm. It was more of a yellow card than the first, and City were down to ten men.
Ranieri reorganised, bringing Wasilewski on for Mahrez, but not before the departing Algerian international was violently shoved with both hands by Coquelin. The referee took no action, though it was worse than either of Simpson’s offences.
Under increasing pressure City held out until the 70th minute. A Bellerin cross was nodded down by Giroud for substitute Walcott, who nipped in sharply to beat Schimeichel and level the game.
City’s ten men put in a Titanic effort in the closing stages, as chances for Ramsey, Sanchez, Giroud, Mertesacker and Welbeck came and went. It was unrelenting pressure with only one more chance on the break for City, which Vardy fired straight at Cech.
As City saw out the four minutes of time added on, Schmeichel continuing to defy Arsenal’s string of chances, it looked as though they had earned a vital point.
But then Wasilewski committed a needless foul 30 yards out. Ozil delivered a precise free-kick into the danger area and substitute Welbeck, sent a glancing header beyond Schmeichel’s reach to give Arsenal the victory with seconds to go.
It was a cruel way to go down, and Arsenal’s gamesmanship may have left a sour taste in the mouth, but City remained in top spot and could only learn from this experience.
Claudio Ranieri was not impressed: “I am very angry. An international referee gives two yellow cards for normal fouls and the match was full of fouls. In the second half maybe it was because the crowd pushed the referee a lot and put him under pressure. You make one yellow card and you have to stay calm – my players, but also the referee. The draw should have been the real result. There was four minutes extra time signalled and it was five minutes extra time when they scored. But it’s okay. It doesn’t matter. We continue to fight. I am very proud of my players. They put on a fantastic performance.”
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny (Chambers 46), Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin (Walcott 61), Ramsey, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Welbeck 83), Sanchez, Giroud. Subs Not Used: Ospina, Flamini, Elneny, Campbell.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (King 82), Mahrez (Wasilewski 58), Okazaki (Gray 61), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Chilwell, Dyer, Ulloa.
Referee: M Atkinson. Attendance: 60,009.
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