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arsenal v leicesterArsenal 2 – 1 Leicester City

Arsenal lined up 4-2-3-1

Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker (c), Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Sanchez, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Giroud

The clock had just ticked over 95 minutes, the game was 1 – 1 and you felt Leicester were on the verge of extending their lead over Arsenal to 7 points. Mesut Ozil stood over a free kick… The Emirates fell silent, then Danny Welbeck on his first start for 10 months rose highest to glance home a header to win the game for Arsenal and close the gap on leaders Leicester to only 2 points which reignited a fading title charge. The stadium erupted. The feelings immediately after, were ones of joy, happiness and relief but what grew gradually was frustration- frustration that for long periods Arsenal were second best to a Leicester side who never looked troubled until the sending off of Danny Simpson and who showed everyone watching that they are the real deal in terms of fighting for the title.

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Welbeck scores his last gasp winner.

For the first half of the game, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a game between two mid table teams that had nothing to play for. Arsenal had no passion, no sharpness in their play, and offered little as an attacking threat and as for the crowd, such was the quietness that you could almost hear a pin drop, there was no atmosphere to inspire the players, only moans and groans when passes went wayward and when attacks came to nothing. Arsenal once again had Petr Cech to thank for keeping the score at 0-0, he reacted superbly when Jamie Vardy looked certain to score with a downward header. He then pulled off a magnificent one handed stop to prevent the brilliant N’golo Kante from scoring with a curving dipping shot. Leicester had recovered from their shaky start and were finishing the first half as the stronger side. Although Arsenal had much of the ball, they offered little going forward and were limited to putting hopeful crosses into Giroud, who was dealt with easily by Morgan and Huth.

Jamie Vardy converts the penalty

Right on half time, Leicester countered and released the brilliant Kante down the right side of midfield, although he was taken out by an on rushing Koscielny (who injured himself in the process), the ball found its way to Vardy who ran into the box and took advantage of Nacho Monreals outstretched leg to win a penalty. Whether it was harsh or not and with the half time whistle being greeted by a chorus of boo’s, you could not argue with the fact that Leicester deserved their half time lead.

The sending off of Leicesters Danny Simpson in the second half provided a critical moment not just in the match, but in Arsenals season, 11 v 11 you couldn’t see Arsenal coming back for a draw, let alone winning the game. If Leicester had managed to open up an 8 point gap with 12 games to play, that would have been one hell of a deficit to regain. So, when Simpson was sent off for admittedly harsh but deserved reasons, Arsenal simply had to win, but if Arsenal couldn’t break down the 10 men of Leicester at home, do they deserve to win the league? Arsenal laid siege to Leicesters goal and set up camp in their half and finally on 70 minutes, with their first shot on target, Theo Walcott scored Arsenals equalizer.walcott

Love him or hate him, Theo Walcott has a knack of popping up when we need him lately, as incredibly frustrating as he can be, and although he’s yet to deliver on all that potential after 10 mixed years at Arsenal, when he connected with an unbelievable cushioned down header from Giroud, you hoped again that he could push on to be a lethal striker, but I’m yet (along with many others) to be fully convinced.

Once Arsenal had drawn level, finally the crowd had reason to cheer, and that bolstered an invigorated Arsenal, with Leicester tiring, Arsene Wenger brought on Danny Welbeck, and to be fair not much would have been expected from him on his first start this season, still he looked sharp and keen and will no doubt be starting the upcoming F.A cup game against Hull. The fairytale was written for this game though, and once Leicester conceded the needless free kick right on full time, who else but Danny Welbeck to rise up and provide a telling flick into the bottom left hand corner. The title race continues…

during the Barclays Premier League match between XXX and XXX at Emirates Stadium on December 28, 2015 in London, England.I have to make a special mention to Calum Chambers, who was brilliant when he came on for the injured Koscielny. I feel that this performance will kick start his season, especially now Koscielny and Gabriel are out injured, the young centre back maybe finding some regular game time, and a chance to prove his critics wrong after coming in for some harsh words in his first full Arsenal season.

 

In other news…

This week Arsenal have been linked with Micheal Carrick from Manchester United, the 33 year old will be available on a free transfer this summer.

Gabriel has picked up a knock and has been sent to back to his former club Vitoria for treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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