Jamie Vardy takes Leicester second as pressure on Arsenal’s Unai Emery grows | Football


The last time Leicester played a league match in such a downpour they scored nine goals. There was never any chance of that happening here yet in moving up to second place in the Premier League the Jamie Vardy and James Maddison double that won the points for the Foxes was arguably just as valuable.

Leicester have now won four in a row since their last league defeat at Liverpool, and with every passing week look an even better bet for a Champions League placing. Arsenal did not play badly here, they even had their chances to take something from the game, but their winless run now extends to four, they remain on the fringes of the elite and life is not going to get any easier for Unai Emery over the international break.

“We’re not really thinking about the title,” Brendan Rodgers said when asked about the possibility of overtaking Liverpool as well as Manchester City. “But if we can bring European football back here that would be great.”

Arsenal took the field with a flat back five in an attempt to neutralise Leicester’s variety of attacking options, a tacit admission of insecurity that set the tone for the early part of the game.

Leicester spent the first quarter trying to work out a way to enter the Arsenal area, and though the visiting defence held tight they had a couple of scares due to David Luiz giving the ball away in his own half.

For all the home side’s possession and pressure, however, it was Arsenal who created the best opportunity to open the scoring when Alexandre Lacazette took the ball off the toes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but managed to miss the target with a shot from the edge of the six-yard area. Leicester had an excellent chance to go ahead when Héctor Bellerín made a mistake on his first league start of the season, playing a pass from the touchline straight to Vardy, and though the striker did the right thing in allowing the ball to run on to Ayoze Pérez the former Newcastle forward’s shot just cleared the bar. A Pérez cross from the right flashed across Arsenal’s goal with no one in a blue shirt able to get a touch moments later, before Youri Tielemans opted to blast a shot wastefully high after carving a swathe through midfield with the assistance of Maddison.

Unai Emery watches his Arsenal team lose at Leicester.

Unai Emery was taunted by the home fans as Arsenal suffered another defeat. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

Leicester kept getting closer as the first half progressed, and only the watchful presence of Calum Chambers at the far post prevented Vardy reaching the most inviting of low crosses from Pérez. Maddison went close with a free-kick on the stroke of half-time after he had been fouled just outside the area by Lucas Torreira, before Arsenal finished the half with a free-kick routine of their own, David Luiz launching a ball from his own half for Aubameyang to chase. It ended up reaching Kasper Schmeichel first, though the Leicester defence was almost caught out, a warning that Arsenal are never quite out of a game even when they are fighting to stay in it.

Leicester upped their attacking efforts at the start of the second period and should really have gone ahead in its opening minutes. First Harvey Barnes made inroads down the left but crossed too high for Pérez to finish, then after Ricardo Pereira reached the byline on the right his perfectly placed cut-back gave Wilfred Ndidi almost too much time to finish. It looked as though the midfielder could hardly miss but he did not get over the ball well enough and a slightly casual sidefoot came back off the bar. Arsenal had the ball in the Leicester net shortly after that, just to show what an open game it had become, though the linesman flagged for offside when Aubameyang touched in Sead Kolasinac’s cross from the left and after an acceptably short delay – one that one would like to think was not prompted by the Arsenal fans chanting “VAR, VAR” – his decision was ratified by the remote technology.

Pereira did well to cover back and pinch the ball from Aubameyang in the area after the Arsenal captain had eluded the central defenders once again to fasten on to another long ball from David Luiz at the back. The full-back was furious no offside flag had been produced but replays showed Aubameyang was onside and Pereira’s intervention had been necessary.

The Leicester breakthrough came midway through the second half, when a subtle flick from Barnes found Tielemans in front of goal and he had the presence of mind to simply move the ball on to his left to an unmarked Vardy. Leicester’s leading scorer does not miss chances like that and Vardy duly stuck the ball beyond Bernd Leno, before turning provider seven minutes later after the impressive Pereira had made ground through the middle. The full-back’s accurate diagonal pass found Vardy, who turned the ball back for Maddison to beat Leno a second time with a shot through Bellerín’s legs.

Once ahead, Leicester played out the remainder of the game with that brisk passing and pressing game they do so well, while Arsenal capitulated in the way they do so often. It must have made miserable viewing for Emery, especially with the crowd alternating between chants of “Ole” for the passing and “You’re getting sacked in the morning” for the Arsenal manager.


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