Good Result, Disappointing Performance
Arsenal 2 (Koscielny 27′, Walcott 41′) – Leicester City 1 (Kramaric 61′)
Following the loss to Tottenham, it was paramount for the players to respond against a Leicester side clinging for their Premier League lives. The manager of the away side, Nigel Pearson, had been on the spotlight following his altercation with Crystal Palace’s James McArthur. Arsene Wenger made some changes to the squad that struggled against Tottenham with Tomas Rosicky coming in for Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott replaced Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez spearheaded the attack in place of Olivier Giroud.
Surprisingly, Leicester started better with the African Cup of Nations returnee, Riyad Mahrez, twisting and turning Nacho Monreal before firing a shot that was blocked by Laurent Koscielny. Sanchez had his first sniff at goal when he combined with Santi Cazorla but as expected, a swarm of Leicester defenders blocked the Chilean from causing any real damage.
Mahrez continued to have a stormer as he got in behind Hector Bellerin but his drilled effort went wide off the mark. Arsenal stepped up a gear when Mesut Ozil threaded an inch-perfect pass to Walcott but the Englishman opted to chip Mark Schwarzer in goal. With the Aussie standing his ground the ball came straight at him. Ozil swung in the resulting corner and Alexis headed the ball over the bar.
After some intricate passes, Ozil threaded another superb pass to Cazorla but he was offside. Ozil continued to stamp his authority on the game as well showed quick movement to connect with Alexis before prodding the ball that was parried to safety by Schwarzer. Ozil sent in the resulting corner and Koscielny was on hand to poke the ball home.
Alexis’ rustiness was on show as he continued to do his bit to make things happen but the Leicester defenders were offering him any sniff at goal. Alexis night took a bad turn when he was clattered by Matthew Upson and from that moment he was never the same. Bellerin had a rare foray forward but his left footed shot was a tame effort. Bellerin’s wing seemed open as Kramaric sent Paul Konchesky clear and the full back’s cross at the feet of Schlupp but Mertesacker reacted quickly (two things that don’t match) to make a superb block. Mahrez had another effort that went wide
Arsenal extended their lead with a nice bit of improvisation from Ozil and Walcott’s swiftness. The German mastro received the ball in midfield and from quite some distance he launched a torpedo at Schwarzer. The Aussie goalie spilled the ball and it fell to the one guy in the world you wouldn’t want such a chance to come to, Theo Walcott. The English speedster blasted it past the Aussie to put the Gunners in driving seat.
With Arsenal two goals to the good, it seemed as if it was going to be a long night for the away side but on the contrary, Leicester started a renaissance. Arsenal actually had a chance to make it three when Walcott had a chance to go clean on goal but he made the wrong option to locate Mesut Ozil when a shot on goal would have been a better option and that chance went begging.
Alexis had a claim for a penalty when he played a ball that hit Danny Simpson’s hands but Mike Jones chose not to award the penalty. This is the same ref that pointed to the spot when Leicester was faced in the exact scenario against Liverpool at Anfield. Inconsistency.
Leicester finally got a goal they actually deserved when Kramaric fired it past Ospina following a goalmouth scramble. The Colombian shot stopper would hav ebeen disappointed to be beaten on his near post but Alexis somewhat impaired his vision, so I wasn’t really surprised when it crept in.
There was this aura of anxiety at the Emirates that the Gunners were going to ‘Anderlecht’ up again so every misplaced or sloppy pass was met with a roar of frustration. Cazorla found a little gap at fired a shot but it was parried by Schwarzer. Wenger brought on Giroud for a clearly injured Sanchez and later on he brought on Ramsey for Walcott to add some steel to the midfield.
Leicester applied some intense pressure on the Gunners with Mahrez sending a curling effort that went wide and there was a scary moment when Kramaric was one on one with Ospina but he chose to chip the goalie instead of finding the corner of the net, so it turned out to be easy pickings for the Colombian shot stopper.
The game ended on a sad note for Ramsey as he picked up a recurrent hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Mathieu Flamini. The ref’s whistle coincided with a collective sigh of relief from the Arsenal faithful as they’d just did enough to ease past bottom-placed Leicester.
With Spurs losing to Liverpool at Anfield, a good night became better but all in all, it was a good result but a disappointing performance from the Gunners.
You can download the Gooner Daily BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.
You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.
You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button