Wenger laughs off Mourinho tirade
Leicester 2 Arsenal 5
Arsene Wenger has dismissed Jose Mourinho's latest attack and the Arsenal manager must have felt like a king after his team's emphatic statement of intent ahead of another crucial week.
Seven days after the ugly Battle of the Bridge, this was Wenger's vision of his team in high definition and a warning to their Premier League rivals that they remain realistic challengers for the title.
Alexis Sanchez's hat-trick may have hogged the headlines but the fluency of Arsenal's attacking and their clinical finishing suggested that Wenger's refusal to sign another forward may not have been so bewildering.
Arsenal are in perfect shape for their Champions League game against Olympiakos tomorrow while the visit of Manchester United next Sunday is shaping up as one of the pivotal games of this season.
Wenger is "not under pressure" - as Mourinho claimed last Friday - when Arsenal play like they did at the King Power Stadium.
When told that he was allegedly the manager who gets away with everything, Wenger laughed and replied: "No, I didn't realise that, I must say. I feel I have just done my job with the team and for our fans.
"Honestly, I'm not too concerned about the other results. Thirty years in football now, and I know that what is important is to play football well.
"What we want is to manage a team who enjoy playing together and get better every week."
Wenger was more comfortable focusing on this win, which ended Leicester's eight-game unbeaten run under Claudio Ranieri.
In a game of 42 chances, Arsenal recovered from a sloppy start to punish defensive frailty and cut the deficit on leaders United ahead of their intriguing showdown.
"Two weeks ago, you could say one team were going to run away with it and now it's tight again. You have to be consistent and that's what we focus on," Wenger said.
"Of course the City result [the 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur] was a boost - you want the distance to the leaders to be as minimal as possible.
"It's tight and you're in danger everywhere in this Premier League. I feel that the quality of our game is getting better, week by week, and overall we are finding the level that we had shown at the end of last season."
Arsenal did require a wake-up call after Jamie Vardy collected his fourth goal in four games, but then ran away with it.
Theo Walcott enhanced his status as Arsenal's first-choice forward with a sweet finish before Sanchez took over.
The Chilean had not scored in eight previous games, but took his three goals with ruthless efficiency, with the best reserved for last, an excellent drive from 25 yards after a clever flick created space.
Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score and Walcott admitted that Arsenal's attacking players are thriving on the competition.
"I've been biding my time to get the opportunity to play up front," he said.
"It's a good option for the manager to have and, if I can continue to play well, I can stay there. We will be judged on the whole season, but we'll take it game by game.
"When given the opportunity any player needs to try and make the difference and Olly has come off the bench twice and scored, which is great."
Ranieri will not be toasting many clean sheets if his team fail to learn from this. For all their verve and vigour going forward - with Vardy adding a second goal in added time - Leicester looked susceptible at the back.
They played their part in an absorbing contest, though, and are a refreshing antidote to the safety-first tactics of many teams.
Vardy has done enough to earn another England call-up as the league's leading scorer. On current form, it seems ridiculous that some critics continue to bemoan his inclusion in the national team.
"My confidence is sky-high at the moment but I know if I want to keep being involved in that England squad, then I have to keep putting the performances in for Leicester first," said Vardy.
"But my performance meant nothing because we didn't get the result we needed. We're all focusing on Norwich and getting back on another unbeaten run." (© The Daily Telegraph, London)