Arsenal 2-1 Leicester: Five talking points as Welbeck rescues Gunners
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 14/02/16 4:22pm
Danny Welbeck ignited Arsenal's title challenge with a last-gasp winner against Leicester on his first appearance in almost a year.
Welbeck snatches late win
Arsenal breathed life back into their Premier League title charge with a 2-1 victory over Leicester.
The substitute rose to flick Mesut Ozil's free-kick beyond Kasper Schmeichel in the fifth minute of stoppage time and clinch a 2-1 win for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Earlier, Jamie Vardy had given Leicester the lead from the penalty spot, before Danny Simpson's sending off tipped the contest in Arsenal's favour.
Theo Walcott dispatched the equaliser in the 70th minute, and the Gunners missed a string of chances before Welbeck finally broke the visitors' resolve.
Here, we round up the top talking points as Arsene Wenger's men moved to within two points of the Premier League summit…
Substitutes save Arsenal
In a season of fairytales, Welbeck could hardly have scripted it better. Ten long months had passed since his last appearance in a goalless draw against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, but desperate times called for desperate measures, and the striker marked his return to the side in the best possible way.
Welbeck's flicked header from Ozil's free-kick was perfectly executed and gave Schmeichel no chance, and he wasn't the only Arsenal substitute to make a decisive impact. Walcott's subdued performances have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, and he had not scored in 10 games when he replaced Francis Coquelin after 61 minutes.
I'm very happy for Danny Welbeck because I see him every day in training and he's suffered a lot not being able to help the team.
But when Olivier Giroud cushioned Hector Bellerin's cross into his path in the 70th minute, the England man produced a composed, side-footed finish for the crucial equalising goal. Wenger's substitutions ensured Arsenal ended the game with only one central midfielder on the pitch, but his boldness paid off.
Simpson sending-off pivotal
The pivotal moment arrived nine minutes after half-time, when Leicester full-back Simpson was shown his second yellow card for pulling back Giroud. Up until then, the visitors looked good value for their lead, with Claudio Ranieri later saying he felt they would have won had they not gone down to 10 men.
Wenger: We were relentless
Arsene Wenger hailed his side's "relentless energy" as Arsenal came from behind to defeat Leicester.
The red card certainly changed the flow of the game, with Leicester forced to sacrifice the dangerous Riyad Mahrez for defender Marcin Wasilewski. The substitution immediately reduced their attacking options, allowing Arsenal to apply continuous pressure. What's more, it was Wasilewski who conceded the late free-kick from which the Gunners got their winner.
Gunners undone by Leicester counter-attack
After Manchester City were ripped apart by Leicester's counter-attacks at the Etihad Stadium last weekend, all eyes were on how Arsenal would cope. Wenger's plans were disrupted by an injury to Gabriel Paulista, and Leicester took advantage of the Gunners' vulnerability just before half-time.
The hosts were calling for a foul when Wes Morgan appeared to climb on Mesut Ozil, but Leicester sensed their opportunity as Martin Atkinson waved play on. The exceptional N'Golo Kante beat Laurent Koscielny to the loose ball, and Vardy then drew a foul from the isolated Nacho Monreal in Arsenal's box.
'Leicester played like champions'
Jamie Carragher and Thierry Henry praise the performance of Leicester.
It was Leicester's 10th penalty of the Premier League season and the sixth that has been won by Vardy. Giroud attempted to put the Englishman off as he prepared to take it, but his emphatic finished typified Leicester's fearless approach to their title challenge.
Kante's midfield masterclass
The defeat was particularly harsh on Kante. The midfielder has been one of Leicester's star performers throughout the season, and his man-of-the-match performance at the Emirates came after Wenger revealed Arsenal had passed up on the chance to sign him before he joined Leicester in the summer.
Kante constantly disrupted Arsenal's build-up play and his touch map showed just how much ground he covered. In total, the midfielder made six tackles, seven interceptions and recovered possession on 13 occasions. He impressed in attacking sense, too. He took up dangerous positions as Leicester poured forward in the first half, and accounted for three of their seven shots on goal.
"He's just too much," said Thierry Henry in the Sky Sports studio, and Jamie Carragher was similarly impressed. "He has been everywhere," the former defender said at half-time. "He has been on the edge of his own box, he has been beating players on the left. He has been amazing."
Finishing still a concern for Arsenal
Arsenal should have been home and dry long before Welbeck's winning goal, and their struggles in front of goal remain a cause for concern. The last 20 minutes of the match resembled an attack-versus-defence training drill, but the Gunners spurned chance after chance.
In the last 10 minutes alone, Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertesacker, Welbeck and Giroud all missed glorious opportunities. Walcott's 70th-minute equaliser was their first accurate effort of the game, and in total only six of their 24 shots hit the target. With fixtures against Barcelona, Manchester United and Tottenham on the horizon, the Gunners desperately need to rediscover their clinical touch.