Leicester City 0:0 Arsenal
Last year’s 1st and 2nd placed teams cancelled each other at the KPS on Saturday evening, though City had a stonewall penalty denied them in the 88th minute…
Claudio Ranieri made four changes to his starting line-up with Huth, Mendy, Okazaki and Albrighton in for Hernandez, King, Gray and Musa.
The City team were greeted onto the field by another superb Union FS tifo display, declaring ‘Champions of England’.
Arsenal started well, and Sanchez and Cazorla both had shots blocked early on.
After a further spell of Arsenal possession without much threat, Morgan got a vital touch to a Bellerin cross with Walcott waiting to pounce in front of goal.
In the 26th minute Oxlade-Chamberlain made space for himself, cutting in from the left before curling a decent effort inches wide of the right hand post.
At the other end Vardy showed a burst of pace that set Albrighton up, but his cross was cleared.
On the half hour Cazorla delivered a free-kick from the left wing which beat everyone and was heading for the top right hand corner before Schmeichel tipped it over.
Three minutes before the break the home crowd were roaring for a penalty.
A cleverly angled ball from Mahrez sent Vardy in on goal down the right. Cech was out smartly to block, and the loose ball fell to Drinkwater who appeared to be tripped by Koscielny, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on.
Goalless at the break.
Although no subs were introduced for the second half, Ranieri was soon forced into a change when Mendy went over awkwardly on his ankle. After some treatment the debutante tried to carry on, but it was immediately clear that he couldn’t and he was replaced by King.
City were the better side at this stage, and Mahrez went past Coquelin with a brilliant stepover but was crudely brought down. Clattenburg didn’t deem the offence worthy of a second yellow and Mahrez’s curling free-kick brushed the crossbar.
Bellerin then sent a long range effort straight at Schmeichel.
The 67th minute saw City’s second substitution, with Okazaki, who had run himself into the ground, replaced by Ulloa.
City continued to press forward: Albrighton tackled Xhaka and sent Vardy in down the right. He bore down on goal but fired wide under pressure from Koscielny.
Gunners sub Ozil then beat Fuchs with a neat swivel down the right, but Walcott’s shot didn’t test Schmeichel.
Ozil’s introduction turned the game in Arsenal’s favour, with too much activity round City’s goalmouth for comfort, but sterling work from Simpson and Morgan kept them at bay.
The game turned again on a City substitution, when Musa came on for Albrighton and injected new momentum into the game.
He did enough the seal the points with two minutes to go, racing past Bellerin down the left and heading for goal before the defender tripped him from behind. It was as clear a penalty as you could ever hope to see, but Clattenburg, with a clear view of the incident, inexplicably waved play on.
There was one more chance for City in time added on, when Mahrez capped a fine run with a shot saved by Cech. The rebound didn’t quite fall to Musa, who hesitated too long and the chance was gone.
This was a great improvement on last week’s performance and only Mark Clattenburg knows why City didn’t get a late chance to claim three points from the penalty spot.
Typically Ranieri refused to place the blame elsewhere:
“I am not a manger who says: ‘That was a penalty,’ that is crying. For me it is OK, the referee made a very good performance and for me a penalty is when the referee whistles. He didn’t whistle, so it wasn’t. They kept more possession. They were very dangerous, but not with the clear chance. We kept less possession, but we know this. But we created a lot more clear chances to win the match. It was unlucky. But I am very happy for our spirit, for the union of the team.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mendy (King 53), Drinkwater, Mahrez, Albrighton (Musa 86), Okazaki (Ulloa 67), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hernandez, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.
Arsenal: Cech, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Walcott, Sanchez, Xhaka (Wilshere 73), Cazorla (Ozil 73), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Giroud 78). Subs Not Used: Gibbs, Ospina, Chambers, Elneny.
Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 32,008.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
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