Arsenal (0) 0 Leicester City (0) 1
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 25th October 2020. Kick-off time: 7.15pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Alex Rúnarsson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Nicolas Pépé, Shkodran Mustafi, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah.
Yellow Cards: Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 57%
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees: Ian Hussin, Harry Lennard
Fourth Official: Graham Scott
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Paul Tierney; AVAR Stephen Child
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions
The omens are good today; we are unbeaten in our previous twenty-seven home games against Leicester City in all competitions, and of those, we have been victorious in twenty of them. Good to see Thomas Partey in the starting line-up for his first game in the Premiership here at the Emirates tonight, and after his excellent performance against Rapid Vienna three days ago, it will be interesting to see his impact on the match tonight. Let’s go!
A very exciting start for both teams! Within two minutes Bernd Leno was called into action, when his poor clearance fell to the feet of James Maddison, who struck a left-footed shot from about thirty-five yards which went just wide of the post. We snapped back into the action merely minutes later when our first corner of the game saw Alexandre Lacazette flick a header into the visitors’ net, which was cancelled out because Granit Xhaka was in an offside position (apparently). This merely strenghened our resolve, and over the next few minutes, David Luiz, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all unlucky in not opening the scoring for us, thanks mainly to the goalkeeping prowess of Kasper Schmeichel, particularly in the case of the latter. Both Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney were playing exceptionally well in this period of the game, providing superb balls into the Leicester City penalty area for our strikers to run on to. On the half hour, a pass from David Luiz to Keiran Tierney saw the young Scotsman provide an excellent cross for Alexandre Lacazette to head the ball narrowly wide, which to be fair, should have been the opening goal. We continued to press the Foxes back into their own half, and again Alexandre Lacazette was desperately unlucky not to score when young Bukayo Saka’s clever flick-on saw the Frenchman shoot narrowly wide. As half-time beckoned, we were extremely confident and comfortable on (and off the ball, too); so much so that it seemed to be just a matter of time before we scored a goal.
And so, the second half started in earnest with Arsenal pushing the Foxes back into their own half. Unfortunately, David Luiz fell to the ground with an thigh injury and was unable to continue playing, so Shkodran Mustafi replaced him just five minutes after the restart. Bukayo Saka was brutally brought down by Wesley Fofana, and the subsequent free kick became a wasted effort. The visitors started to come back into the match, and audaciously, James Maddison spotted Bernd Leno off his line and tried his luck with a long-range shot, but thankfully our goalkeeper saw the danger as it happened and safely collected the ball. As the visitors’ talisman Jamie Vardy was introduced as a substitute just after the hour, Hector Bellerin was lucky not to receive a second yellow card from referee Craig Pawson when his slide tackle brought down James Justin rather clumsily. Shortly afterwards, Bukayo Saka was replaced by Nicolas Pépé in an effort by Mikel Arteta after sixty-five minutes, to put extra pressure on the Leicester defence, and although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unfortunate not to score when a clever ball from Hector Bellerin was picked up easily by Kasper Schmeichel, it was becoming patently obvious that we depserately needed a goal to get something out of this game, which started to level out now, despite the vistors trying to make a decent show of things. And then the unbelievable happened. With just ten minutes left, an inch perfect Youri Tielemans’ cross into our penalty area for who else, but Jamie Vardy to score with a diving header for the Foxes to take the lead. Almost immediately afterwards, Eddie Nketiah replaced Kieran Tierney in order for us to retrieve something from this match with just minutes remaining. Our frustration was becoming evident, as the harder we tried to equalise, the more difficult it became. We had a penalty shout when Eddie Nketiah was flattened in the Foxes’ penalty area, but Craig Pawson brushed away our players’ protests. With five minutes’ injury time, our efforts become more urgent and our frustrations became obvious, when Granit Xhaka got booked for a pointless tackle almost on the final whistle. It all came to nothing anyway a few minutes’ later, as Leicester City took maximum points from the game, their first win here since 1973.
Such a disappointment all round, really. Basically, we fell foul of a very clever game plan by Brendan Rodgers, which saw Leicester City soak up pressure, keep the scores equal and introduce a proven match winner who did the job, unfortunately. As far as we were concerned, it was a real lost opportunity; had we won this match, we would be in the top four tonight, but unfortunately it was not to be. A harsh lesson learned by all here at the Emirates.
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: Dundalk at the Emirates on Thursday 29th October at 8.00pm (Europa 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.