Arsenal 4 Leicester City 3
Report by Colin Murrant
Another incredibly frustrating night at the Emirates with City losing there by the odd goal for the fourth season running since their return to the Premier League: the last three years succumbing to late goals.
There are a lot of positives to take from the match but in the immediate aftermath the defeat was hard to take. Apart from some lapses in concentration, the main contributory factor to this was the ridiculous decision to substitute Matty James in the 81st minute. If James was tired I would understand the substitution but 10 minutes earlier a statement had been made that we would defend the lead, Amartey on in the midfield for striker Okazaki. Then Iheanacho, a forward to replace a midfielder: why not bring King or Chilwell on if James needed to be replaced? The change completely disrupted City who up to this point were under pressure but looked organised. I have said before that I believe Shakespeare is naïve in his game management and this substitution did nothing to allay my fears.
The other negative is Big Wes who is clearly now not up to Premier League football, he is lost without Huth who I am sure will be paired with Maguire in the heart of the City defence. Morgan was culpable in three of the Arsenal goals.
I must admit that I thought I read all of the rule changes for this season but two escaped me. Firstly, if you are off-side the free kick can be taken in your defending half (prelude to Arsenal’s second goal); and secondly, if you control the ball by letting it run down your arm it is not hand ball (Ozil lead up to Arsenal’s third goal). So admittedly this is sarcastic but nonetheless illustrates on another day, with the rub of the green, how we could have won the match. Another bad day for Mike Dean who saw both incidents and let play go on; a referee that is incredibly inconsistent and according to one Nigel Pearson, an arrogant man.
On the positive side:
- Maguire is exciting the way he brings the ball out of defence and is a danger in both boxes. Perhaps defensively can improve but great to see a young talented centre back at City. Onlooking Gareth Southgate would have been impressed.
- Vardy looks sharp, amazing how he looked under confident against Borussia Monchengladbach until he got his first of two goals, he looks on fire now. 4 goals on two consecutive Friday nights and poachers’ goals. Onlooking Gareth Southgate would have been impressed.
- Matty James had a good game and hopefully his two-year nightmare can be put to rest.
- Albrighton’s work rate and crossing was exemplary
- Kaspar looking sharp, two world class saves from deflected shots. Hopefully now staying at City.
- Iheanacho showed enough in his Monchengladbach cameo to give great optimism.
It was the 25th anniversary of the Premier League. I read in the Metro paper on the train to London how their journalist thought it appropriate that Leicester were the first team on show for the opening match of the quarter centenary occasion given they were the greatest story that had happened during that time.
The match itself was a defence’s coach nightmare, all seven goals defending errors, although SKY TV would have been delighted with their first Friday Night Premier League opener.
I could write about the incidents and it would take pages to record the action in this thrill by the minute encounter. I therefore reflect purely on the seven goals.
1-0 less than 2 minutes gone and Elneny is given too much space and time to cross from City’s left, Morgan leaves Lacazette and the comparatively short player has a free header for a dream debut.
1-1 5 minutes and Leicester are quickly back in it, a corner is played to Albrighton who aims for the far post, Maguire heads back across and Okazaki heads in with Cech isolated
2-1 30 minutes, some loose play midway in the Arsenal half sees them lose the ball which is switched to Albrighton. A superb left foot cross into no man’s land between keeper and defence sees Vardy nip into put City into the lead with a rifle finish.
2-2 Seconds from half time, a melee in the City box sees City fail to clear and the ball breaks to Kolasinac who squares to Welbeck to roll into an empty net.
2-3 57 minutes City restore their lead. Initially Mahrez jinks from left to right and sees his shot tipped over by Cech. Mahrez takes the resultant corner and Vardy, unmarked, heads into the far post. City team and fans erupt.
3-3 A corner to Arsenal on 83 minutes following an unpenalised handball by Ozil. The ball is eventually worked to the far post where three Arsenal players are unmarked. Ramsay fires an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
4-3 2 minutes later and the nightmare has happened, Arsenal lead. Following a great Schmeichel save from a close-range effort Lacazette, Giroud heads in from the corner.
So, a nightmare result but an outstanding away performance which was warmly appreciated by the City faithful. who were left wondering what we have to do to win at the Emirates. A pause in play before the Arsenal third goal, I thought of this report, I thought of the heading as an ‘I was there moment’, alas it ended in disappointment and Déjà vu. As I write this report on Saturday morning, City are currently bottom of the League. On the basis of this performance I fancy it will not be for long. The best is yet to come.
Arsenal Team: (3-4-3) Cech, Holding, Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette. Subs: Ospina, Mustafa, Coquelin, Ramsey, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud
Leicester Team: (4-2-4) Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan (c), Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, James, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Homer, Chilwell, Amartey, King, Gray, Slimani, Iheanacho
Referee: Mike Dean
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation