Arsenal saw chance after chance go begging and we paid the ultimate price - as Leicester City took the points at The Emirates thanks to a late Jamie Vardy goal...who else, right?
Arsenal went with what resembles our strongest lineup. Arteta was taking the threat of Leicester seriously. Our midfield was the trio of Xhaka, Ceballos and Partey, with our forward line being Auba, Saka and Lacazette. In defence, Tierney, Luiz and Gabriel were our backline, with Bellerin making up the back four.
Now, the first half ended goalless, but the forty-five minutes we played were probably the best we have played this season. Finally, the ball was being played quickly and we played in some magnificent crosses, thanks largely to Tierney, that were begging to be put away.
We should have been a goal up within four minutes when Lacazette headed in, but the goal was chalked off for offside. Replays suggest though, that the goal should have stood. Xhaka was the one judged to be offside, but he didn’t impede play, so the ruling was a little off to say the least.
David Luiz was spraying balls left, right and centre and the Brazilian was nearly responsible for setting up the opener but the move fizzled out with Bellerin. The pass though, was spot on.
Saka was looking bright too, and after Lacazette held the ball up well, Saka drove straight at Schmeichel. We were getting closer.
Tierney then crossed in for Auba, but our number14 headed over when well placed. Surprisingly off target, but promising.
Five minutes later, a carbon copy of the above, and again, Auba headed off target. Not in the best of form lately.
Then, yet another Tierney cross and it was Lacazette who was on the end of it. The Frenchman didn’t connect well though and it went wide.
It was the last chance of the half and we had created plenty and crucially, we had completely shut down any Leicester’s moves. They were toothless thanks to us but would we pay for our profligacy.
The break delivered no changes, but three minutes later, Arteta had to make a change. Luiz took a knock and was replaced by Mustafi, who has only just returned from long-term injury.
Then, the injustice of officiating struck again as Youri Tielemans, already on a yellow, tripped Xhaka cynically. No second booking, and Leicester were downright lucky.
Then, the game began to change. Bellerin was lucky to not see red with a second yellow, which preceded Brendan Rodgers bringing on perennial Arsenal thorn in the side, Jamie Vardy. He came on for Praet, so the Foxes were going all out. And the onus was beginning to shift. Leicester were growing into the game.
Leicester were seeing much more of the ball now. It seemed that Arsenal had run out of the energy to maintain the press, but our best chance of the game did then occur. Aubameyang finally had green to run into on the right. He chose to cross and it found Bellerin, but Schmeichel saved incredibly well.
It should have been a goal.
We weren’t content with letting Leicester get more of the ball and getting back in though. We were fired up for this and Arteta chose to shuffle the pack again. Saka came off for Pepe, and we would have plenty of threat up top.
And wouldn’t you know it, with ten minutes left, Jamie Vardy scored.
We had really deserved to be leading but our wastefulness cost us dearly. TIelemans delivered a pass that left sub, Under, to square it for Vardy with the opportunity to plant a diving header in the goal.
Arteta responded immediately with a change, as Tierney came off for Eddie Nketiah. We were on the verge of a first home loss against Leicester since 1973 – and Rodgers first win against Arsenal at The Emirates. We needed to respond quickly, but the Foxes had numbers back and were going to defend their lead stoutly.
We really were pushing and we had mere minutes to salvage something from a game we really should have been picking up maximum points from.
In injury time, two flashpoints. First, Nketiah was barged down by Fofana in the box and Craig Pawson gave the free kick to Leicester? Then, Vardy was found in the box and his effort was well saved by Leno.
There was no time left
Leicester saw out the win and we had now lost two on the spin. Arteta needs to take the positives from this, but what lessons can we learn?
This game was different from the rest
We actually created in this game. The finger-pointing levelled at us for not making any chances in our last few was something we weren’t guilty of this time around. By all rights, we should have been out of sight by half time.
Profligacy cost us
Both Lacazette and Aubameyang missed gilt-edged chances. If they had just converted half of their opportunities this game, we would have won the game at a canter.
Losing Luiz cost us
Of course, bringing in a Mustafi who hasn’t played in months would cost us. The German’s rustiness meant that he lost Vardy for the goal, but Mustafi can’t be blamed, nor our defence. It was our attack that failed this time around.
Important to remember
This season we were filled with optimism for good reason. We are far from the finished article but the reasons why we couldn’t wait for this season still exist. A newly found robustness. A defence that isn’t a laughing stock. Promising youth and a spine in our side. We will get there, but Arteta has plenty of work to do.
No rest for the wicked, next up is our Europa League home game against Irish side Dundalk on Thursday.
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