Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Rosicky, Walcott, Cazorla, Ozil, Alexis
Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Ramsey, Welbeck, Giroud
Arsenal got back to winning ways with a scrappy, unconvincing 2-1 win against Leicester City at the Emirates this evening.
Arsene Wenger made a number of changes to the team that lost to Sp*rs, bringing in Alexis, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky for Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey.
The game’s first chance fell to the visitors when Mahrez stepped inside Monreal in the area and saw a deflected effort drift wide with Ospina scrambling. From the corner Alexis had to make a block and the league’s bottom team looked to make a bright start.
The Chilean showed the first signs of Arsenal’s intent, bursting into the box but he was crowded out, and after 13 minutes it was Leicester who threatened once more. Mahrez beat the offside trap, drove into the box and put a shot between Ospina’s legs which again went just wide of the far post.
It seemed to wake Arsenal up however, and a fantastic Mesut Ozil pass found Theo Walcott in the box. The England man’s movement and touch was good, but the finish was half-hearted and hit straight at Schwarzer. From the resulting corner Alexis headed over when he should probably have hit the target.
The former Barcelona man hit a 19th minute free kick into the wall having been fouled by Matthew Upson, and Ozil’s subtle brilliance almost brought about a goal when the keeper pushed his toe-poked effort around the post. It was the incident that brought the opening goal though.
The corner came in, nobody got anywhere near the ball, and Laurent Koscielny ghosted in to slot home at the near post area from 6 yards out. 1-0.
There was some worry over Alexis when he was hurt by a pretty nasty Upson foul on the edge of the box, but the Chilean got treatment and carried on – however, he looked constantly troubled by the injury.
And at 1-0 there were still dangerous moments for Arsenal to contend with. Mertesacker defended brilliantly to clear from inside the six-yard area, while Mahrez again bamboozled the defence before curling a shot inches over the bar.
The miss proved costly as moments later the Gunners doubled the lead. The move began with Bellerin racing back to the win the ball before it was moved to Ozil in midfield. The German’s stinging drive from distance was too hot for Schwarzer to hold and Theo was there to tuck home the rebound into the far corner. 2-0.
Ozil put a free kick just wide before the half came to a close, although there was still time for for David Ospina to come and miss a Leicester corner but thankfully the Foxes couldn’t make anything of the situation.
Arsenal began the second half with claims for a penalty when Danny Simpson handballed inside the area, but in fairness the ball was hit at his hand and the referee gave the corner instead. From that, Tomas Rosicky hit a cracking volley wide.
At the other end Kramaric hit a shot straight at Ospina after good build up play from Strangle McPearson’s side, while Matty James miscontrol with just the Arsenal keeper to beat saw another Leicester chance go begging. They were then forced into a change with an injured Upson (some things never change), being replaced by Wasilewski.
The warning signs were there for Arsenal and after an Opsina save from Kramaric it took a Mertesacker clearance off the line to prevent a goal. From the corner it looked as if Cambiasso handled the ball to keep it alive and when the ball rebounded to Kramaric at the back post he turned and fired in at the near post past Ospina. 2-1.
Santi Cazorla almost hit back straight away with a shot that Schwarzer saved well, before Arsene Wenger made his first substitution bringing on Olivier Giroud for the lacklustre, and probably injured, Alexis.
It didn’t stop the visitors threatening though as Mahrez, for the fourth time in the game, curled a shot just wide when he drove at the heart of the Arsenal defence. That brought about another change with Aaron Ramsey replacing Walcott.
It didn’t do much for our football as again Leicester looked most likely to score. A familiar weakness was exposed when a break from our own corner saw Kramaric clean through but his attempt to chip the onrushing Ospina was poor.
It got worse when Ramsey picked up an injury and was replaced by Mathieu Flamini in the 82nd minute, and the referee ignored a series of fouls on Arsenal players. When he did finally give a free kick for a blatant push on Giroud there were enormous cheers from the Emirates crowd.
Five minutes of added time produced more pressure from the visitors, and a ridiculous yellow card for Giroud when Schwarzer just kicked the ball at his back, but in the end Arsenal hung on for the win.
Scrappy, not a very good performance, but a win and that’s the main thing.