Leicester 2-0 Arsenal: Jamie Vardy and James Maddison move Foxes into second spot

Leicester 2-0 Arsenal: Jamie Vardy and James Maddison net once again at the King Power to move high-flying Foxes into second spot and ramp up the pressure on under-fire boss Unai Emery

  • Leicester eased to a 2-0 victory against Arsenal at the King Power to increase the pressure on Unai Emery 
  • The hosts had struck the woodwork soon after the second half restart through Wilfried Ndidi’s powerful strike 
  • Arsenal then scored but the goal had been chalked off after Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang strayed offside
  • But the Foxes edged into the lead after Jamie Vardy coolly rounded off a superb flowing move inside the box 
  • James Maddison eased Leicester further in front after being teed up and drilling into the bottom corner 

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We’ve been here before. It’s only November. This can’t last, can it? This is Leicester, after all. They’re bound to fade. That’s a given in the Premier League era. Clubs like Leicester, they’re simply not invited into the mix for the Champions League party.

We learned the folly of such talk in 2016. Since then we’ve all watched as this impressive football club dealt with the cherry picking of their champion players by bigger clubs, the bumpy fall-out from unexpected success and then negotiated a terrible tragedy. All the while they have quietly grown and matured, adding young players, bringing through trainees, signing impressively.

Leicester City are second in the Premier League. More to the point, they are good value for their position. And there is every indication that this is a thoroughly sustainable campaign. Time was when Arsenal would come here with swagger and composure, ready to collect the points. Nowadays they pack the defence and hope to hit them on the counter.

James Maddison fired Leicester’s second against Arsenal to pile the pressure on beleaguered Gunners boss Unai Emery

For when you have James Maddison and the extraordinary Jamie Vardy, who has eight goals in his last six games and 21 since Brendan Rodgers took over in February, you do well to come here with caution.

With Ricardo Pereira also putting in a star turn at right back, both defensively and offensively and with Youri Tielemans and Wilfried Ndidi so utterly reliable, there are stars all over the pitch for Leicester. And then there is the intelligent leadership of Rodgers, coaxing the best we’ve seen from Vardy since that 2016 season along with attacking options all over the pitch. Leicester are simply an excellent team, well constructed, finely balanced and beautifully coached; none of the above applies to Arsenal.

They weren’t terrible. In parts they were good. But they remain a shadow of the club they once were. They have fallen behind the likes of Leciester and will do well to make up the gap this season.

Arsenal plod along under Unai Emery, never quite so bad as to merit his dismissal but never really good enough to suggest an exciting future. Times change quickly in football, reputations come and go. 

So it wasn’t actually a surprise to see Leicester dominating possession in the first half and Arsenal resorting to a back five for long periods of the first half, both to contain the creative threat of Leicester and shore up their own flaky defence.

The two scorers for the hosts celebrate after the Foxes' stellar form continued with an impressive victory at the King Power

The two scorers for the hosts celebrate after the Foxes’ stellar form continued with an impressive victory at the King Power

MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE 

Leicester: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Perez (Gray 59), Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy

Unused substitutes: Justin, Morgan, Albrighton, Ward, Choudhury, Praet

Scorers: Vardy 68, Maddison 75

Booked: Evans

Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, Luiz, Holding (Pepe 77), Bellerin, Torreira (Willock 80), Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang

Unused substitutes: Tierney, Sokratis, Martinez, Martinelli, Saka

Booked: Bellerin

Season at a glance

  • Premier League
  • Premier League
  • Championship
  • League One
  • League Two
  • Scottish Premiership
  • Scottish Div 1
  • Scottish Div 2
  • Scottish Div 3
  • Ligue 1
  • Serie A
  • La Liga
  • Bundesliga

 

Jamie Vardy had fired Leicester into the lead on their home turf after dispatching beyond Bernd Leno and into the far corner

Jamie Vardy had fired Leicester into the lead on their home turf after dispatching beyond Bernd Leno and into the far corner

The Foxes frontman wheeled away in elation as Brendan Rodgers' high-flying men moved up into the lofty heights of second

The Foxes frontman wheeled away in elation as Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying men moved up into the lofty heights of second

Vardy had opted to shoot from the edge of the box but his effort was closed down rapidly by Matteo Guendouzi in the first half

Vardy had opted to shoot from the edge of the box but his effort was closed down rapidly by Matteo Guendouzi in the first half

Arsenal stopper Leno remained untroubled despite the hosts fizzing an inviting delivery across the face of his goal

Arsenal stopper Leno remained untroubled despite the hosts fizzing an inviting delivery across the face of his goal

Referee Chris Kavanagh was unmoved after Caglar Soyuncu appeared to be dragged back inside the box by Guendouzi

Referee Chris Kavanagh was unmoved after Caglar Soyuncu appeared to be dragged back inside the box by Guendouzi

Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding were making their first Premier League starts of the season and by and large the system worked. Leicester had plenty of the ball in midfield, where Wilfried Ndidi toiled and James Maddison swaggered to good effect. Yet they only rarely broke through that Arsenal line.

Ayoze Perez managed to get behind Holding to cross requiring Calum Chambers to clear early on. Bernd Leno’s lapse in concentration on 21 minutes, allowing the ball to run past him, was foolish in the extreme with Jamie Vardy lurking and pressing but they survived that. 

Indeed, in their occasional forays into the last third of the pitch, Arsenal looked reasonably dangerous. Mesut Ozil, retained in the starting line up for a Premier League match for the first time this season, flickered every now and then. And a well worked move on 10 minutes allowed Bellerin to cross for Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang, whose touched saw the ball break for Alex Lacazette, who shot wide under heavy challenge from Jonny Evans. Arsenal protested hopefully but VAR remained unused. 

As the half progressed, possession began to count. Bellerin gave the ball away on 26 minutes and Perez shot just over. Harvey Barnes shot into Leno on 27 minutes. Sead Kolasinac crunched into Perez inside the area on 29 minutes but was deemed to have played the ball and committed no foul.

The closest Leicester came was a Perez cross on 33 minutes which beat Leno and was tantalisingly sitting up for Vardy until Chambers got the faintest of touches to turn it away from him. 

Alexandre Lacazette had squandered a golden opportunity for Arsenal after bending a strike wide from close range

Alexandre Lacazette had squandered a golden opportunity for Arsenal after bending a strike wide from close range

Manager Emery watched on from the sidelines as the rain hammered down on his miserable 50th game in charge of Arsenal

Manager Emery watched on from the sidelines as the rain hammered down on his miserable 50th game in charge of Arsenal

Calum Chambers had to be alert to deny Vardy a tap in after nicking the ball away from the Leicester striker's feet

Calum Chambers had to be alert to deny Vardy a tap in after nicking the ball away from the Leicester striker’s feet

Maddison also came close for the Foxes after bending a superb free-kick just inches over the top of the crossbar

Maddison also came close for the Foxes after bending a superb free-kick just inches over the top of the crossbar

Leicester struck the woodwork soon after the restart after Wilfried Ndidi unleashed an effort through a crowd of bodies

Leicester struck the woodwork soon after the restart after Wilfried Ndidi unleashed an effort through a crowd of bodies

A clever corner routine from Maddison saw Youri Tielemans shoot over on 38 minutes and then Maddison made the roof of the net ripple with a curling free kick on 42 minutes. There was brief moment of excitement and anticipation, which quickly died as the illusion became clear.

Come the restart, Leicester immediately looked more incisive. On 50 minutes, Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira combined well down the right to allow the Portuguese to cut the back for Ndidi with Leno stranded. In fairness to Ndidi, the penalty box was crowded and so it wasn’t quite the tap in it appeared. However, he lent back and lifted the ball onto the bar when he should have just drilled it through the forest of players. It was a huge opportunity.

That said, Arsenal were beginning to flourish too, initially through well executed counter attacks. Bellerin shot just over on 53 minutes having strode purposefully through the Leicester midfield. They thought they had opened the scoring when Ozil’s quickstep and pass released Kolasinc on 55 minutes, whose cross was delightfully turned in by Aubameyang.  

Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw a goal chalked off after straying offside during the goalless draw at Leicester

Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw a goal chalked off after straying offside during the goalless draw at Leicester

The centre forward though was offside, spotted by the assistant referee and confirmed by VAR. But Arsenal were probing now, not merely playing on the counter, as the game opened up. David Luiz floated in a delightful ball on 62 minutes, which fell nicely for Aubameyang. As he opened up his body to shoot, Pereira intervened majestically to clear.

Yet just as Arsenal threatened to impose themselves, they revealed their familiar defensive frailties. Even with the extra man in the back line they couldn’t prevent Leicester playing around them on 68 minutes, Pereira feeding Barnes whose flick played in Tielemans. He simply drilled the ball across goal where Vardy was waiting in space to score that eleventh goal of the season, his renaissance under Rodgers continuing apace.

Arsenal folded pretty soon after, again at sixes and sevens as Leicester passed around them. The excellent Pereiera touched the ball across the box to Vardy who touched it back to Maddison, who shot straight through Bellerin’s legs and past Leno from the edge of the area for 2-0.


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