Arsenal 1 Leicester 1
Jamie Vardy’s late leveller gave Leicester a valuable point against ten-man Arsenal after an incident-packed encounter at Emirates Stadium.
With the clock ticking down on Leicester’s hopes of a top four finish, Vardy struck his 22nd Premier League goal of the season to extend his lead at the top of the goal scorers charts and keep Leicester on track to book a ticket to next season’s Champions League.
On a wet night in north London, Arsenal dared to believe their own fading hopes of a top four spot were being revived after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 21st minute opener, but the final outcome gave a fair reflection of a game that ebbed and flowed.
Arsenal could have been out of sight by half-time after a dominant first-half display that saw a confident home side carve out a succession fo chances that left Leicester keeper Kapser Schmeichel exposed time and again.
Leicester had a couple of early chances to test Arsenal keeper Emiliano Martinez and Kelechi Iheanacho should have done better when he got a sight at goal after 10 minutes, yet the Gunners took control of the game as Jonny Evans looked shaky as part of a three-man Leicester defence.
Kieran Tierney forced a fine save out of Schmeichel, before Arsenal’s dynamic front three of Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka started to click into gear as the home side took a 21st lead.
A swift Arsenal break concluded with Saka finding space down the right flank and his perfectly weighted cross was greeted with the finish it demanded from the clinical Aubameyang.
Leicester were relieved to get to half time with just a one goal deficit.
After the restart, they looked threatening on the break with Iheanacho and Vardy offering a speedy cutting edge, yet the momentum the Foxes had built up in the opening two thirds of this season has long since evaporated.
Leicester looked certain to wrap up a third place finish in the Premier League at the turn of the year, but that optimism has been replaced with pessimism since Brendan Rodgers and his team returned to action last month.
Looking unsteady at the back and failing to take enough of the chances they are creating, a 73rd minute red card for Arsenal substitute Eddie Nketiah just two minutes after he came onto the field ensured this game would have a surprising last twist.
TV replays suggested Nketiah caught James Justin on the knee and after referee Chris Kavanagh looked at the replays on a monitor at the side of the pitch, he wasted little time in brandishing a red card for a crestfallen Nketiah.
Leicester had not looked like getting back into the game until that moment, but playing with an extra man for the final 20 minutes of action gave them the boost they craved and Vardy duly delivered their reprieve five minutes from time.
A VAR check assessed whether Ayoze Perez got a touch on the cross that eventually found its way to Vardy and if he had, an offside flag may have condemned Leicester to a defeat.
Yet this point was a reward for Rodgers’ side as they look to fend off the advances of Chelsea and Manchester United in the push for a Champions League finish.