Arsenal (1) 1 Leicester City (0) 1
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Tuesday, 7th July 2020. Kick-off time: 8.15pm
(3-4-2-1) Emiliano Martínez; Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney; Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Nicolas Pépé, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Matt Macey.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (21 mins)
Red Cards: Eddie Nketiah
Yellow Cards: Shkodran Mustafi
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 38%
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions
Tonight we entertain the enigmatic Leicester City, who are currently sitting third in the Premiership table. It is vitally important that we continue our winning run at The Emirates tonight, as we need to put pressure on Wolverhampton Wanderers (who we defeated on Saturday) and above them, Manchester United, in order to grab a Europa League place for next season. Let’s go!
Arsenal certainly had the best of the early exchanges tonight, and we showed confidence in all departments of the team. Emiliano Martínez made two important early saves from the visitors, the best of them being a snap shot from Marc Albrighton which he kept out of the net with his feet! Leicester City started to move the ball around a little faster with more aggression and certainly more purpose, which left them wide open for a quick attack from our chaps. Kieran Tierney struck a beautiful shot from twenty-five yards which Caspar Schmeichel parried, but a couple of minutes later we broke out of defence, with Bukayo Saka receiving the ball on the right from a long ball that came his way via Dani Ceballos; he slotted the ball across the Leicester penalty area and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang simply tapped the ball home for the opening goal of the match. The goal quickly livened up the proceedings, and on the half hour mark, Bukayo Saka was unlucky not to score, when his strongly taken shot was parried by Caspar Schmeichel for a corner. Now the wind was certainly in our sails, and we started to expose the weaknesses in the visitors’ defence time and time again. Alexandre Lacazette, by rights, should have scored, and had it not been for the alertness of the Leicester goalie, he would have found himself on the score sheet. We moved the ball around very well, despite being hampered by the North London rain, and we kept continuing to probe the Leicester goal with intelligent shots which came from clever midfield play, mainly from the peerless Dani Ceballos, who was playing with great freedom and awareness. The wet conditions meant that there were one or two unfortunate accidents just before the break, and by the time the referee blew for half-time, both sets of players looked like they were ready for a hiatus.
The second half started off just as lively as the first, with some interesting end-to-end play being created from both teams. A foul on Alexandre Lacazette just outside the box led to a well-taken free-kick from David Luiz, whose shot was turned away by Caspar Schmeichel for the first of three consecutive corners. Emiliano Martínez made a superb match-saving save from Kelechi Iheanacho ten minutes after the restart, and it was becoming obvious to everyone that the conditions were starting to ruin what would otherwise be a far more open match than it was. However, we still managed to exert pressure on the visitors, and a potential second goal by Alexandre Lacazette was chalked off for offside just before the drinks break. Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah replaced Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka with twenty minutes of the match remaining, which gave us pace, strength and fresh legs where it was needed out there. Ridiculously and pointlessly, Eddie Nketiah was dismissed just four minutes after arriving on the pitch for at best, what could be described as a strikers’ tackle. Being down to ten men, Arsenal now put their shoulders to the wheel and changed formation to accommodate the loss of a man. Dani Ceballos was replaced by Lucas Torreira on the eightieth minute, and five minutes later, taking advantage of the extra man on the pitch, Jamie Vardy grabbed the equaliser. With eight minutes’ injury time, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and suddenly the match became more frenetic with both sides sensing the urgency to grab the winning goal, but it was not to be, and the scores finished even on a wet and controversial evening.
Overall, we deserved to get more out of this match than we ended up with, and if Eddie Nketiah had not had been dismissed controversially, then we may well have ended the match as the victors, as we did have enough chances to win this match quite comfortably. Still, although it’s two points dropped, we still come out of this game with a point, which is certainly better than nothing. Kieran Tierney and Dani Ceballos were superb tonight, as was Emiliano Martínez; with the North London derby coming up on Sunday, we need to go into that game with the winning mentality that we have shown of late, and if we do that, then there’s no reason why we cannot return home with three points. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 0BX on Sunday, 12th July at 4.30pm(Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.