Match report and free highlights as Thomas Partey's header and Alexandre Lacazette's penalty secure victory over Leicester as Arsenal move back above Manchester United into fourth place in the Premier League table
Monday 14 March 2022 06:23, UK
Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top-four finish with a 2-0 win over Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.
Thomas Partey's header gave the Gunners an early lead and Alexandre Lacazette made it two from the spot just before the hour mark after Caglar Soyuncu's handball.
The three points lift Arsenal back above Manchester United into fourth, one point ahead of them with three games in hand. Leicester remain in 12th in the table.
Arsenal: Ramsdale (8), Cedric (7), White (8), Gabriel (7), Tierney (7), Partey (8), Xhaka (7), Saka (7), Odegaard (9), Martinelli (7), Lacazette (7).
Subs: Smith Rowe (6), Pepe (6), Nketiah (6).
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Albrighton (6), Amartey (6), Soyuncu (5), Thomas (5), Pereira (6), Dewsbury-Hall (6), Mendy (6), Maddison (5), Barnes (6), Iheanacho (5).
Subs: Ndidi (6), Justin (6), Daka (6).
Man of the match: Martin Odegaard
Brendan Rodgers will be frustrated that errors undermined Leicester but Mikel Arteta's men were better in the big moments.
That familiar weakness from set pieces was exposed when Gabriel Martinelli's left-wing corner was headed in by the unmarked Partey at the near post on 11 minutes.
Partey went close to doubling Arsenal's advantage in a dominant opening display from the home side when he hit the crossbar, although Leicester did come back into the contest.
Harvey Barnes came close before Ben White put in a vital tackle on James Maddison but it was Aaron Ramsdale's superb save from Barnes that kept Arsenal ahead at the break.
The penalty took the game away from the visitors, referee Anthony Taylor being told by the VAR to check the monitor when Partey's header touched Soyuncu's fingertips.
The contact was clear on the slow-motion replays, with Luke Thomas' goal-line clearance sparing the Turkey international defender the red card. Lacazette made no mistake.
The home side were able to enjoy themselves from there on in with the impressive Martin Odegaard conducting the game to its conclusion - a fifth consecutive Premier League win.
Arsenal hold the advantage in the race for a top-four finish, and not just because of their points total and the number of games in hand, but also because they are playing far better football than their rivals.
Arsenal were boosted by the return of forward Emile Smith Rowe, although the youngster was fit enough only for a place on the bench as Mikel Arteta went unchanged from the win over Watford.
Brendan Rodgers welcomed James Maddison back to the team, one of four changes from the win over Leeds as Kelechi Iheanacho, Ricardo Pereira and Nampalys Mendy came in for Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, and Hamza Choudhury.
"He has got the ball on a piece of string sometimes," said former Arsenal striker Alan Smith, on co-commentary for Sky Sports at the Emirates Stadium. Back in the studio, Jamie Redknapp agreed. "He looks incredible at the moment, his confidence is sky high."
Some of Odegaard's football had the crowd gasping with delight, one reverse pass to Bukayo Saka had not been spotted by half of the supporters in the stadium but the Norwegian saw it and executed it even at pitch level. His vision adds a new dimension to Arsenal.
Odegaard created five chances for his team-mates in the first half alone and it is not just that creativity - he works too. Nobody in the Arsenal team won back possession more times in the final third. He was the clear man of the match. "Smooth as silk," added Smith.
"They are a really good side and we had to raise the level that we showed against Watford and we have certainly done that today in every aspect of the game, I think," Arteta told Sky Sports.
"We had moments where the speed of the ball, the understanding, the movement, the link between the players, it was terrific. It was a big result for us.
"We are in a very good position but there is still a lot to fight for. Now it is Liverpool, we know how tough it will be and we will have to prepare the game to win it."
Even going into the game, Leicester had conceded the most goals from corners of any Premier League team this season and it did not take long for that weakness to undermine them once again. That inability to keep the ball out keeps costing them.
Thomas was the man marking Partey but he found himself underneath the ball while Barnes and Ricardo Pereira could not get close enough to the Arsenal midfielder either. Partey, incredibly, was completely unmarked to score.
Brendan Rodgers' side played some good football after that, twice testing Ramsdale, and it would have been a fair reflection of the game if they had gone in level at half-time. But when cheap goals are given away, the rest does not matter. It is a recurring problem.
"We gave away a poor goal from a corner yet again," Rodgers told Sky Sports. "That is obviously disappointing because you come away from home, in any game, but especially away when we looked solid, to give that away puts you on the back foot.
"But I thought our response was really good. We started to make more passes and not be in such a rush. Barnesy has a good header and Aaron makes a brilliant save. He has had a couple against us where they look like they are in.
"At half-time we were still well in the game. I am disappointed with the penalty. It is so soft. I don't want to criticise referees but they take so long to look at it and if you slow it down long enough you then see that Cags gets his fingernails to it. That's 2-0 and we are chasing it."
Arsenal will next face Liverpool in the Premier League on Wednesday at 8.15pm, live on Sky Sports.
Leicester will return to Europa Conference League action when they take on Rennes in the second leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday at 5.45pm. The next Premier League game for the Foxes will be played against Brentford on Sunday at 2pm.