Leicester City earned a first Premier League win over Arsenal since 1994 as Arsene Wenger’s penultimate game in charge of the Gunners ended in another away defeat.
Kelechi Iheanacho rifled the opener past Petr Cech after poor defending from the visitors, who had 20-year-old defender Konstantinos Mavropanos sent off 92 seconds later for hauling down the forward as he broke through on goal.
Arsenal levelled through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Jamie Vardy’s penalty, awarded after Henrikh Mkhitaryan brought down Demarai Gray, and Riyad Mahrez’s late breakaway goal sealed victory for the hosts.
Arsenal remain the only side without an away point in English league football in 2018, while victory for the Foxes means they could still overhaul Everton for eighth place with victory over Tottenham on the final day.
Vardy’s penalty means he has now scored six goals in his last six Premier League games against the Gunners, who have lost seven consecutive top-flight away matches for the first time since 1966.
In the final minutes Arsenal fans chanted Wenger’s name and were joined by the home supporters, many of whom stood to applaud the Frenchman.
Puel gets instant response
Before the match, Foxes manager Claude Puel had called on his side to “be positive, play with quality, tempo and desire” – and they duly responded.
The Frenchman has been under pressure in recent weeks and received a vote of confidence from the club’s board last Friday, but on this evidence he certainly appears to have his players’ backing.
Fousseni Diabate and Mahrez provided constant threat down the flanks, and an attack force of Vardy and Iheanacho had Arsenal’s inexperienced backline constantly troubled.
Puel played under Wenger at Monaco in the 1980s and 1990s, and the Arsenal boss praised his tenacity before the match.
“He can fight,” said Wenger. “I had him as a player and that was the same and I’m sure he can turn it around very quickly.”
Wenger presumably hoped Puel would have waited one more game to get it right.
While this was a good night for Puel, who insists a mid-table finish is acceptable, but he surely faces another challenge once the campaign ends, with the future of Mahrez certain to be on the agenda.
If he can retain the services of the Algerian, who has put in two transfer requests in the last two windows, and get consistent performances out of players like Iheanacho, then the champions of 2016 have reasons for optimism heading into a new season.