It was his 22nd Premier League goal of the season, earning the Foxes a valuable point while denting ten-man Arsenal’s Champions League ambitions.
Leicester City Grab a Share of the Spoils Against Ten-Man Arsenal
The match began in Leicester’s favour with the Foxes exhibiting incisive movement and passing when venturing into the final third. Early pressure almost told with both Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho forcing stand-in goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into good saves early on.
After a nervous first 15 minutes though, Arsenal had weathered the storm. The front three of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka were beginning to cause problems with the latter featuring regularly in the opposition penalty area. Eventually, Arsenal capitalised. A sumptuous defence-splitting pass by Dani Ceballos sent Saka on his way who kept his composure to lay it on a plate for Aubameyang who tapped home his 20th Premier League goal of the season.
This flowing move set the tone for the rest of the half. The captivating display from the front three made Leicester’s usually solid defence look wayward. Kasper Schmeichel heroics twice denied Lacazette to ensure Leicester’s first-half deficit was restricted to one.
Moving into the second half, the game visibly calmed in tempo. Having gained the upper hand, Arsenal displayed less attacking intent, allowing Leicester to slowly grow back into the game. Early on, Vardy picked out an inch-perfect cross for Iheanacho who forced another fine save from Martinez.
Proceedings went back and forth until a devastating moment for substitute Eddie Nketiah completely changed the shape of the game. Mere minutes after coming on, Nketiah made a seemingly genuine attempt to play a bouncing ball which resulted in a knee-high challenge on James Justin. After lengthy VAR consideration, Chris Kavanagh deemed the challenge to be dangerous and showed Nketiah what he knew was coming.
It was park the bus time for Mikel Arteta’s men. Unfortunately for them, it did not last long. Demarai Gray taking the Gunners’ defence out of play with a cross that left Vardy wide open to fire in yet again against Arsenal to make it 1-1. With little chance of scoring themselves, Arsenal managed to see out a nervy eight minutes of injury time to take a reluctant share of the spoils from a captivating encounter.
Arsenal will certainly feel aggrieved to be taking a solitary point from a game they dominated for long spells. Without any major defensive tests for much of the game, Arsenal shone offensively with a dynamic front three and the fantastic Ceballos pulling the strings from deep. The Spaniard put in another impressive performance amid discussion of making his loan deal from Madrid permanent this week. It appears Arteta has cracked the code of how to translate his raw ability into tangible on-field results.
Further encouragement will be taken by Gunners fans from the performance of 18-year-old Bukayo Saka. The youngster looks totally at home alongside world stars Lacazette and Aubameyang. His assist to the Gabon forward was his 12th of the season in all competitions. This statistic puts him behind only Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold, which is certainly good company to be keeping.
Leicester can consider themselves lucky to come away with a point. The absence of marquee full-backs Ben Chilwell and Ricardo forced Brendan Rodgers to re-shuffle his backline. Soyuncu, on the left side of a centre-back trio, looked wayward. Meanwhile, Justin and Albrighton on the right and left failed to inject the same attacking impetus as their injured teammates.
Lucky or unlucky, the Emirates played host to a fascinating encounter this Tuesday night. Both teams have positives to take from the game, Arsenal in terms of their performance, Leicester in terms of the result.
Next up, Leicester face a flailing Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this Sunday. Meanwhile, Arsenal travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for what is sure to be a fiery North London derby with much more than bragging rights and pride on the line.