Leicester City 3:1 Arsenal
City produced a fine performance in the final home game of the season, with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal…
With City looking for their first league win over Arsenal since 1994, Claude Puel made three changes to his starting line-up with Jakupovic, Simpson and Iheanacho in for Hamer, Benalouane and Iborra.
Before the game we said farewell to Robert Huth, who is not having his contract renewed after a season out with injury. His immense contribution to the Great Escape and the Premier League title will never be forgotten.
After six home games without a win, expectations weren’t high for this game and Arsenal (without an away win in 2018) controlled the opening stage with some neat passing moves. Mkhitaryan got in an early shot straight at Jakupovic, but the keeper was given a more severe test by Iwobi in the 6th minute when he got down to tip a toe-poked effort round the post.
City broke upfield in the 10th minute when great work from Choudhury, set up Iheanacho, who neatly side-stepped his marker but then lost his footing.
Two minutes later City broke away again and Silva sent Vardy through, but his shot was well saved by Cech.
City then delighted the home crowd who had a goal to celebrate at long last.
In the 14th minute. After a spell of pressure, Fuchs launched a cross beyond the far post, Diabaté sent a neat header back into the area and Iheanacho delivered a measured left-footer through a crowd of defenders and past Cech.
The KPS was instantly revived and a minute later City were nearly through again. Iheanacho was in on goal when Mavropanos brought him down, and was judged to be the last man, leaving Arsenal with 10 men for 75 minutes.
Mahrez curled the resulting free-kick in and Maguire attempted a side-foot finish from close range, but Cech tipped it over the bar.
City were rampant now and Iheanacho fired a shot from the edge of the area, but Cech came to the Gunners rescue again.
Diabaté then made good progress down the left before whipping in a cross that was a couple of inches away from Vardy’s boot.
With City in control of the game Arsenal had a rare attack in the 35th minute when Jakupovic produced a fine save to guide a Mkhitaryan shot round the base of the post. Along with some excellent distribution, the keeper was having a fine Premier League debut for City.
In the 38th minute Silva curved a low free-kick round the wall, but Cech tipped it away at full stretch. City broke forward again, but Iheanacho’s angled drive saw the over-worked Cech saving again.
The half-time joy that City had played so well was temepered by the fact that they hadn’t scored more goals from so many chances. And Arsenal came out for the second half in more determined mood.
Two minutes into the second half Kolasinac found space down the left but his shot from an acute angle thumped against the post.
City were soon pouring forward again. A good run from Mahrez set up Vardy, but the offside flag denied City a second goal.
Diabaté then raced into space down the left, but his shot had the sting taken out of it by Cech’s block, allowing for an easy goal line clearance.
For all City’s chances, it was Arsenal who got the next goal in the 53rd minute.
Aubameyang’s well struck volley was brilliantly saved by Jakupovic from close range, but he had no chance when Aubameyang followed up to lash the ball into the roof of the net.
A now open game was end-to-end for a while. Diabaté fired a shot over the bar, and Fuchs also went close, before Mkhitaryan blasted an effort just over the angle of post and bar.
Claude Puel made his first change in the 72nd minute, bringing Gray on for Diabaté, and it soon reaped its reward.
Gray beat his man down the right and sent in a low cross which was cleared straight back to him, but as he took possession Mkhitaryan caught him from behind and the ref pointed to the spot amid furious protests.
Vardy sent Cech the wrong way, smashing it left to regain City’s lead.
Simpson had to limp out of the action in the 82nd minute, replaced by Dragovic, as City attempted to see the game out. But there was one more moment of magic to come.
A superb ball from Choudhury capped a brilliant night’s work for him and sent Mahrez down the right. In what will surely be his last home appearance for City he sent his marker into the car park with a swift change of direction before guiding the ball round the grounded Cech for another wonderful finish.
Five minutes of time-added-on passed without drama and City’s home schedule finished on a very high note after months of disappointment.
In contrast to Saturday, a large majority of the crowd stayed on to applaud the side off the pitch for what had been a great effort.
There was even a chant for Arsène Wenger, who had lost to Leicester for the first time in his long Arsenal career.
9th place was secured and we were left thinking that it hadn’t been too bad a season after all.
Leicester: Jakupovic, Simpson (Dragovic 82), Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Choudhury, Silva, Diabaté (Gray 72), Vardy, Iheanacho (Barnes 88).
Substitutes: Hamer, Iborra, Benalouane, Thomas.
Arsenal: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mavropanos, Kolasinac, Iwobi (Nketia 84), Xhaka, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Welbeck (Mustafi 19).
Substitutes: Mertesacker, Ospina, Nelson, Osei-Tutu, Willock.
Referee: G Scott. Attendance: 32,095.
ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.
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