Following their 2-0 win over Leeds United in the League Cup and the subsequent draw at home to Sunderland in the next round, Arsenal fans have plenty to be thankful for at the moment.
The return of their full-strength eleven, which included the return of Ben White, ensured that Arsenal entered the match with an unchanged team from the side that won 3-1 over Aston Villa and arguably their best team on current form.
Their win over Aston Villa may have won them plaudits aplenty in previous weeks, but the looming figure of Leicester City is tough to ignore as possibly Arsenal’s biggest test post-Manchester City drubbing, with Leicester already coming off the back of a 4-2 slaughtering of Manchester United.
Arsenal started with the usual ferocity that one has come to expect from Mikel Arteta’s team. The high press, led by Alexandre Lacazette, was as effective as always, pushing Leicester into cheap and easy passes, and often causing Kasper Schmeichel to hurry his kicks, resulting in a turnover of posession.
In recent weeks, Arsenal have found more joy from set-pieces than open-play, given Nicolas Jover’s superb tactical nouse and Saturday was no different. A brilliant corner from young Bukayo Saka met the towering head of Gabriel Magalhães and the Brazilian defender’s g;ancing header sored into the top far corner to give the visitors the lead.
Arsenal did not let up from there. The constant threat of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison still loomed larged, but Arsenal weathered the storm and were soon able to start a counter attack as Thomas Partey robbed Leicetser of posession, switching the play expertly to Saka, who fed Lacazette, the Frenchman was unable to wriggle through the defence, but Leicester’s poor clearance was latched onto by the in-form Emile Smith Rowe and the youngster smashed in Arsenal’s second from close-range.
Leicester began to gain more of a foothold in the game now and had a number of close chances, including Kelechi Iheanacho, who’s left-footed effort forced a fingertip save from Aaron Ramsdale.
Ramsdale was again called into action, producing perhaps the save of the season so far, with an acrobatic save from James Maddison’s superb free-kick and was quick to get down low to smother put Jonny Evans’ follow-up, which was also cleared off the line by Thomas Partey.
The second-half was pretty much one-way traffic for 25 minutes. Lecester piled on the pressure constantly, but to no avail. Either Ben White or Gabriel were there to smother chances, or it was Aaron Ramsdale, producing save after save after save after save that even had the legendary Peter Schmeichel singing his praises on Twitter.
Arsenal weathered the storm and were able to claim victory in the end. Perhaps Leicester should have been down to 10 men at one point in the match after Jonny Evans deliberatley held back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, yet he was only shown the yellow card, only for Aymeric Laporte to be shown the red a few hours later for a similair foul in Manchester City’s disastorus 0-2 loss to Crystal Palace.
It was a close-run game that was ultimatley decided by Leicester’s dreadful start. Leicester had plenty of oppourtunities to get back into the match, but Ramsdale’s performance was simply too good.
The goalkeeper was pretty much everywhere and Leicester simply didn’t have the quality on the day to beat him. They tested him plenty, but the keeper was equal to every challenge, including the aforementioned acrobatic save to deny James Maddison’s free-kick.
The performance of the defence should not be missed either. Takehiro Tomiyasu was exceptional on the right flank, Ben White and Gabriel Magalhães more than dealt with the attacks that faced them and Nuno Tavares was as brilliant as ever, especialy going forward as the Leicester City fans began to scream at their players to close him down more often.
It was a very good win for Arsenal, they held on for dear life in the second-half, but the 3 points are all that matters and a visit from Watford at the Emirates Stadium awaits them next. An assured 3 points on paper, but Arsenal must maintain their concentration and ensure that they come away victorious, as Watford have proven a tough nut for Arsenal to crack in the past.
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
18.) Takehiro Tomiyasu
4.) Ben White
6.) Gabriel Magalhães
20.) Nuno Tavares
5.) Thomas Partey
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
7.) Bukayo Saka (Pépé 85’)
10.) Emile Smith Rowe (Kolašinac 90’)
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c)
9.) Alexandre Lacazette (Ødgeaard 58’)
1.) Bernd Leno
16.) Rob Holding
17.) Cédric Soares
31.) Sead Kolašinac
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
25.) Mohamed Elneny
8.) Martin Ødegaard
19.) Nicolas Pépé
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
Leicester City team:
1.) Kasper Schmeichel (c)
18.) Daniel Amartey (Barnes 45’)
6.) Jonny Evans
4.) Çağlar Söyüncü
27.) Timothy Castagne
8.) Youri Tielemans
42.) Boubakary Soumaré
33.) Luke Thomas
10.) James Maddison (Daka 70’)
14.) Kelechi Iheanacho (Lookman 45’)
9.) Jamie Vardy
Leicester City subs:
12.) Danny Ward
23.) Jannik Vestergaard
5.) Ryan Bertrand
20.) Hamza Choudhury
25.) Wilfried Ndidi
22.) Kieran Dewsbury-Hall
7.) Harvey Barnes
37.) Ademola Lookman
29.) Patson Daka