Leicester City (0) 3 Arsenal (0) 0
King Power Stadium, Filbert Way, Leicester LE2 7FL
Sunday, 28th April 2019. Kick-off time: Noon
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolašinac; Mkhitaryan, Torreira; Xhaka, Iwobi, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Koscielny, Mavropanos, Guendouzi, Nketiah, Willock
Red Card: Maitland-Niles
Yellow Card: Maitland-Niles, Sokratis
Referee: Michael Oliver
What a terrible end to an awful week. Nine goals conceded over three matches, and not one solitary point won by the team over that time. Let us be honest about it, with no disrespect intended, Leicester City are hardly Barcelona, but today our performance at The King Power Stadium certainly made them look like the Catalonians. Right from the start of the match, we were on the back foot, and the sense of déjá vu in the stadium amongst the Arsenal supporters became evident.
The talking point of the first half was all about Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Having collected a yellow card for a foul on Ben Chilwell, his second yellow (and subsequent sending-off) after 36 minutes for a controversial tackle on James Maddison merely served to compound impending disaster for us. Both Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy came close to opening the scoring for the home side, but if it were not for the agility and positioning of Bernd Leno, we could have been on the back foot a lot earlier than we actually were. Unbelievably for a club of this stature, Arsenal only had one shot on the Leicester City goal over the whole of the match, and that was from young Alex Iwobi in the latter stages of the first half.
Ironically, it was Alex Iwobi that was sacrificed for the first of three substitutes at the beginning of the second half; his replacement was defender Laurent Koscielny, and it was now obvious that Mr. Emery was realising that things were going badly wrong, and maybe a change of formation and player may just help slow the progress of the home side down. No chance. On the hour, our punishment started. James Maddison, who was unmarked, placed a perfect cross into the Arsenal penalty area for Youri Tielemans (an on-loan player from Monaco) to have a relatively easy task in heading the ball into our net to open the scoring.
After this, everything from Arsenal’s perspective went horribly wrong. Leicester City were quick, dynamic and hungry; we became sluggish, uninterested and utterly clueless. Hoping to change matters, the ineffective Henrikh Mkhitaryan was replaced by Mattéo Guendouzi after 73 minutes, and then Eddie Nketiah for the disappointing Alexandre Lacazette a little while later, but even this didn’t help. Kasper Schmeichel’s upfield kick completely confused the life out of both Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny; so much so, that the quicksilver Jamie Vardy nipped in behind them, and cheekily scored with a second attempt after his initial shot rebounded off of the crossbar. And still the pain didn’t subside for us. In injury time, Ricardo Pereira, having drawn Bernd Leno out of position, simply slotted the ball to Jamie Vardy, who simply tapped the ball into the vacant Arsenal net.
Arsenal have only chalked up two victories on the road in the Premiership all season, which is quite frankly not good enough for a club of this stature. On these performances we don’t look good enough to finish in the top four, let alone winning the Europa League, talking of which we play the first leg of the semi-final in this competition at The Emirates against València on Thursday evening, a match that has become a must-win for us at all costs. This squad is utterly disastrous and needs to be completely ripped apart snd rebuilt in the summer (if Mr. Emery can get the necessary funds to do so, that is). There is no heart, no structure, no willingness to change matches within the squad; Arsenal have just slipped away and have bcome a timid version of their former selves. It was a good job that we had a winning run earlier in the season, otherwise we could be facing some even more serious issues with our Premiership position had this not been the case. So disappointing, so very, very disappointing. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. 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.