Friday 20 April 2018

Foxes' fighting spirit gives Gunners second-half scare

Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1

Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal in their Premier League clash with Leicester City at the Emirates. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Theo Walcott celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal in their Premier League clash with Leicester City at the Emirates. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Laurent Koscielny scores Arsenal's opening goal in their Premier League clash with Leicester City at the Emirates. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leicester City's Jeffrey Schlupp and Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin battle for possession during their Premier League clash at the Emirates. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Arsenal's Mesut Oezil looks to outfox Leicester City midfielder Esteban Cambiasso during their Premier League clash at the Emirates. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky and Leicester City's Matthew James battles for the ball during their Premier League clash at the Emirates. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Matt Law

Leicester City's Thai owners may be undecided over whether Nigel Pearson has a long-term future at the club, but the club's players produced a performance against Arsenal that suggested they remain fully behind their manager.

Despite suffering another defeat that keeps them rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, Leicester gave the Gunners an almighty second-half scare.

Two days after he was sacked and then reinstated, Pearson will have taken plenty of encouragement from the way his team responded to going two goals down at the Emirates. They deserved at least a draw.

Following his grapple with Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur at the weekend, Pearson took the wise decision to start last night's game in the stands.

Had he been on the touchline, then Pearson may well have reached out to give Wes Morgan and Jeff Schlupp a good shake for making decisive errors that undermined what had otherwise been a good first half for Leicester.

Morgan lost Laurent Koscielny at a corner, allowing the defender to open the scoring for Arsenal, while Schlupp was at fault for the home side's second goal that was eventually scored by Theo Walcott.

Pearson had nearly been lifted from his seat in just the 13th minute, as Leicester went within inches of taking a shock lead.

Esteban Cambiasso produced a wonderfully weighted pass through the Arsenal defence that set Riyad Mahrez away on the left and the winger's low shot went through the legs of goalkeeper David Ospina, but the ball bounced narrowly wide.

Pearson handed debuts to Robert Huth and Matthew Upson in a five-man defence, and the pair had goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to thank for keeping the scores level.

Leicester looked nervous every time Mesut Ozil got the ball and the German played a significant part in Arsenal breaking the deadlock after 27 minutes.

He rolled a foot over the ball that allowed him to fire in a shot that Schwarzer saved. Ozil took the resulting corner himself and Koscielny lost Morgan to side-foot the home team ahead.

Leicester players and staff were upset that an apparent foul by Alexis Sanchez on Paul Konchesky went unpunished as the ball made its way to Koscielny.

Pearson would have been largely satisfied with the way his team had played, but a silly error from Schlupp resulted in Arsenal doubling their advantage three minutes before the half-time break.

The Ghana international tried to dribble past Hector Bellerin in his own half, but the right-back tackled him and Arsenal worked the ball over to Ozil. His long-range shot was parried by Schwarzer and Walcott (pictured) produced a good finish to fire the loose ball into the net. Pearson was back on the bench for the second half and watched his team continue to attempt to create chances when they had the ball.

Leicester's record £9.7m signing Andrej Kramaric had been quiet in the first half, but looked far livelier after the break. Having seen Ospina save two of his shots, the Croatia international pulled his side back into the game with his first goal for the club.

Arsenal's defending was woeful, as they first failed to properly clear a corner and did not deal with Mahrez's ball back into the box. Kramaric, though, gave Ospina no chance with a superb shot from 12 yards with just under half-an-hour remaining.

With 11 minute remaining Kramaric found space but couldn't lob Ospina. Arsenal hung on. Just. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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