Leicester 0-1 Arsenal: Gunners Remain at the Summit
Final Result: Leicester 0-1 Arsenal (Martinelli 46′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tomiyasu 93′); Jorginho, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard (Partey 84′), Martinelli; Trossard (Nketiah 70′)
Arsenal made a great gesture of giving the captain’s armband to Oleksandr Zinchenko in commemoration of the one year anniversary of the Russia – Ukraine conflict. The game itself was expected to be a tight affair, and the only change Mikel Arteta made to the team I previewed was bringing on Leandro Trossard for Eddie Nketiah. The Gunners had the lion’s share of possession and dominated proceedings early on without any clear cut chances created.
However, the Gunners took the lead from an amazing finish from Leandro Trossard, that was ruled out after a VAR check. Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard had worked up a series of short corners that didn’t have the desired effect, so Saka decided to go old school and swung the ball into the danger area, but the Leicester goalie, Danny Ward, punched the ball cleared and after a turnover of play, Granit Xhaka found Trossard on the edge of the area and evaded his marker before blasting the ball to the top corner with Ward rooted to the spot. Arsenal’s joy was short lived, as the VAR checks showed that Benjamin White had impeded the goalie in the buildup. Seemed pretty weak to me, but hey, I’ve seen worse.
The officiating in the Premier League has been shambolic in recent campaigns, and clearly there has been a lot of inconsistency even with the VAR system. It was on show yet again when Harry Souttar ‘slipped’ and clearly scythed down Saka in the Leicester box, but nothing was done. I don’t want to believe that the VAR officials actually checked the incident, because it would have been worse if they checked it and decided nothing was wrong with what the Leicester towering center back did.
With the game delicately poised at 0-0, Leicester thought they had gotten the lead when a poor Zinchenko header was fed straight to Tete, whose through ball found Seniorman Kelechi Iheanacho in behind the defense. The Nigerian forward showed great composure to chip the ball past Aaron Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal but he didn’t time his initial run early and the goal was ruled off for offside.
Right after the restart, Arsenal commenced the game like a house on fire and got their reward with a lovely goal from Gabriel Martinelli. After some intricate passing play, the ball found its way to Trossard on the right that carefully threaded the ball through Timothy Castagne’s legs to Martinelli’s path. The Brazilian winger bore down on goal, with pressure from Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi but he picked his spot and placed the ball to Ward’s far post. Martinelli couldn’t celebrate the goal properly as his knee was stamped on by Ndidi inadvertently.
Arsenal thought they had doubled their money when Martinelli latched onto Odegaard’s pass in behind the Leicester defense, and unselfishly teed up Saka to side foot the ball to an empty net but Martinelli was rightfully offside and that chance went begging. Arsenal continued their onslaught with Saka feeding the captain of the day, Zinchenko, but his goal-bound shot was saved by Ward. Zinchenko has been a revelation this season, and his contributions to Arsenal’s attacking play have been immense.
Leicester made a couple of changes to move the wind to their sails but the game became a scrappy affair, marred by a lot of fouls and stopped plays. Jorginho in particular, was on the end of some nasty challenges but he held his own. There was a very nasty situation when Youri Tielemans and Xhaka went for the ball in the air. The Swiss midfielder received a whack in the head for his troubles, but the Belgian cultured midfielder linked with a move to Arsenal this summer landed on his ankle, and couldn’t continue the game, leaving Leicester to battle on with 10 men.
The ref’s whistle was like music to the ears of everyone involved with Arsenal, as Arteta’s men weathered the storm of poor form that hit them a couple of weeks ago, and the ship is steady at the top of the table. The win put Arsenal five points past Manchester City, but Pep Guardiola’s men went to Bournemouth and battered them with aplomb to cut the gap back to two.
The Gunners are still in the summit and they are loving it.
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