Leicester City (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 2
King Power Stadium, Filbert Way, Leicester LE2 7FL
Saturday, 30th October 2021. Kick-off time: 12.30pm
(4-4-1-1) Aaron Ramsdale; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhães, Nuno Tavares; Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Emile Smith-Rowe; Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Martin Ødegaard, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Nicolas Pépé, Mohamed Elneny, Sead Kolašinac, Gabriel Martinelli.
Scorers: Gabriel (5 mins), Emile Smith-Rowe (18 mins)
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 38%
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistant Referees: Simon Bennett, Dan Robathan
Fourth Official: Robert Jones
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Jarred Gillett; AVAR Sian Massey-Ellis
We all recognise that today’s match at the King Power Stadium will be a difficult one, hence the change in formation. Again, we have both of our main strikers on show right from the start, so it will be interesting to see if we can punch a hole through the Foxes’ defence, utilising this attack-minded formation, and along with a powerful four-man midfield, it should all make for an interesting Saturday lunchtime clash.
After a moving Remembrance Day ceremony involving both managers laying wreaths in the centre circle on behalf of the fallen of both world wars, we kicked the match off in earnest, showing intent by taking the game to the home side in the early stages. After just five minutes, we scored the opening goal, courtesy of Gabriel. Shortly after a first Arsenal corner was kicked out for a second, Gabriel rose to meet the high delivery to flick his header past Kasper Schmeichel and into the net. This early goal fired our boys up, and both Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were desperately unlucky in not scoring a second goal for us shortly afterwards. The home side looked a little all at sea, almost nonplussed after our early strike, and they seemed to be having issues in getting themselves together against a very confident Arsenal side. Our confidence paid dividends, when after eighteen minutes, we grabbed a second goal when Alexandre Lacazette looked like he wass going to shoot in the penalty area but the ball ran away from him. Jonny Evans’ clerance was poor and Emile Smith-Rowe was on hand on the edge of the eighteen-yard box to neatly slot the ball into the back of the Foxes’ net. We were completely dominating the match at this point of the game, with every man playing their part and confidently knowing their role within the system. Aaron Ramsdale was called into action after twenty-six minutes, when he dived at the feet of Youri Tielemens to deny the home side a scoring opportunity; and again a minute or so later, he pushed a dificult shot from Kelechi Iheanacho past the right-hand post to show everyone what a fine goalkeeper this young man truly is. Leicester City’s game plan appears to be one-dimensional, in as much that they are attacking us straight down the middle of the pitch, a move which our defenders are finding it a comfortable process in dealing with this particular simple tactic. The match started to level out, and although both sides had their chances, it mostly came to nothing in the midfield areas. Incredibly, three minutes from the break, a James Maddison free-kick was superbly saved by Aaron Ramsdale, and although Jonny Evans followed in, Thomas Partey managed to kick the ball away to save the day. Incredible drama. The two minutes injury time brought no more action, and so we went into half-time deservedly two goals ahead.
The home side kicked off the second half, and suddenly the match became more intense and quick with both teams challenging with gusto and vigour. Ben White and Nuno Tavares at the back were excellent in their positioning and tackling, and it was their quick thinking on several occasions that prevented the Foxes from scoring, as the home side started to assert themselves in the first quarter of an hour of the second half. Alexandre Lacazette was replaced by Martin Ødegaard after fifty-seven minutes, but the substitution was not enough to stop the home side from increasing the pressure on our goal; Aaron Ramsdale was abolutely immense today, throwing his body in front of each and every shot from the Leicester City forwards. A sterling performance by the young man between the sticks. Time after time our defence was placed under intense pressure at the mid-way point of the match, and every time they stood up to be counted in order to deny the home side the oxygen of a goal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nearly scored a valuable third goal when Kasper Schmeichel saved from him from close range, and shortly afterwards Bukayo Saka was also very unlucky not to score when his mid-range shot went skywards. The match started to get rather scrappy now, with one or two unsavoury incidents here and there, which saw free-kicks being given liberally by referee Michael Oliver, followed by entries in his book with the yellow card being shown on a couple of occasions. After Martin Ødegaard went to ground following a bad tackle, Bukayo Saka was replaced by Nicolas Pépé with just six minutes of the match remaining. The match started to lose some of its previous fire and fury now, and with two minutes of the game remaining, Emile Smith-Rowe was replaced by Sead Kolašinac in order to shore up the defence in the dying embers of this battle. In the five minutes’ injury time, our game management was the difference between the two sides, and we kept our heads to take three points back to North London, and now fifth in the Premiership table.
All things being equal, a fabulous performance by all concerned. Aaron Ramsdale was truly magnificent today, a world-class performance from a goalkeeper that will surely grow in stature from now on. Arsenal looked good, played with confidence and are now nine matches undefeated across all competitions; we left the King Power with no injuries and no bookings, add to that the players adapting very well to the 4-4-1-1formation (which oscillated between that and 4-4-2 at different times during the match) then you have a recipe for sucess. Keep going lads, you’re looking good.
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: Watford at Vicarage Road on Sunday, 7th November at 2.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. 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.