Arsenal comeback to beat Leicester

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David Luiz's goal was his first in the Premier League for 16 months
David Luiz's goal was his first in the Premier League for 16 months
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Leicester’s increasingly forlorn-looking pursuit of Premier League leaders Manchester City suffered a big blow as Arsenal came from behind to claim an impressive victory at the King Power Stadium.

On a miserable afternoon at the end of a dire week for the Foxes, they also had influential winger Harvey Barnes carried off on a stretcher with his leg in a brace to add to their already considerable injury problems.

Things had started well for the hosts, who were given an early tonic for their midweek Europa League exit as Youri Tielemens was allowed to run unchecked down the right before firing a low shot into the far corner with just six minutes played.

Willian put in a Man of the Match performance with two assists for Arsenal
Willian put in a Man of the Match performance with two assists for Arsenal

Arsenal refused to be adversely affected, though, and took control of the game with impressive attacking intent and far greater fluency than Leicester.

Deal of the day

David Luiz brought them level, finding space in the box to steer a header in from Willian’s free-kick.

Alexandre Lacazette then put them ahead after the video assistant referee (VAR) judged that Wilfred Ndidi had blocked Nicolas Pepe’s shot in the box with an outstretched arm.

It was second time lucky for the Gunners, who had earlier had a penalty awarded on the pitch but then downgraded to a free-kick after VAR decided the offending tackle on Pepe had taken place just outside the area.

Ivory Coast forward Pepe got in on the act himself, tapping into a largely unguarded net after Willian’s pass had deflected his way.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta actually chose to rest a number of key players on Sunday, including Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose late winner had won their Europa League tie against Benfica on Thursday.

However, it came at a potential cost, though, with Emile Smith Rowe – such a bright spark in recent months – having to leave the field injured in the first half.

The Foxes’ sixth home loss of the campaign leaves them 10 points behind a Manchester City side who have won their past 20 games.

Arsenal move up to ninth, eight points off the top four but with a renewed interest in events above them in the table.

Arsenal’s season salvation job continues

In naming a stronger side on paper for the Europa League tie against Benfica and resting key players at the King Power, Arteta appeared to be suggesting that success in Europe represented his side’s best route back into the Champions League.

That may still be the case, but what the Spaniard and his squad proved on Sunday is that they are far more capable than they have demonstrated for much of this season.

Granted, they got off to an appalling start, practically waving Tielemens in for his early opening goal.

But they did not allow the incident to alter the gameplan – one designed to sensibly take the game to Brendan Rodgers’ side.

They fashioned the better chances over the 90 minutes as a result.

Aside from the goals, Willian fired a low shot just past the post, Luke Thomas’s superb sliding tackle denied Pepe from close range and substitute Aubameyang curled a shot narrowly wide late on.

With eight points and four other teams between themselves and fourth-placed West Ham, a late dart for the Champions League places remains a long shot for the Gunners, but with big players firing and talent in reserve they are in a good place to challenge for their ultimate goal.

Injuries undermining Foxes’ challenge

Leicester’s own team selection is becoming increasingly a case of whoever is fit and available.

Having rested some players for the disappointing midweek defeat by Slavia Prague, the Foxes were back to the best they could muster, but this still meant the absence of Wesley Fofana, fellow defender James Justin and, most importantly, James Maddison.

The England midfielder’s creative energy was noticeably missing on Sunday, with Kelechi Iheanacho failing replicate it as his replacement.

When Barnes – the only man to really test Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno aside from Tielemens – departed on a stretcher, he stripped the Foxes of further attacking spark, making the martialling of Jamie Vardy a much easier job for the Gunners.

Leicester have points in the bank, but Rodgers now faces a challenge to ensure his side can rediscover some momentum and avoid slipping late out of the Champions League qualification places as they did last season.