Arsenal 2-1 Leicester: Danny Welbeck scores dramatic last-minute winner as Gunners edge title rivals at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal edged a thrilling victory over Premier League title rivals Leicester on Sunday
Jamie Vardy gave the Foxes the lead from the penalty spot towards the end of the first-half
Arsenal equalised through substitute striker Theo Walcott who finished off a fine team move on 71 minutes
Leicester were reduced to 10 men when defender Danny Simpson was sent off for a second bookable offence
Another substitute, Danny Welbeck, scored a last-minute winner for Arsene Wenger’s side

The last time Danny Welbeck played for Arsenal, Leicester were 17th and one point off the relegation zone. Maybe he thought they still were.

Arsenal’s absentee striker succeeded where so many had failed this season. He finally broke Leicester’s resistance. A man down from the 54th minute, they had stayed strong. Yes, they had conceded in the 71st minute, erasing a first-half lead.

But there was no shame in a point at the Emirates Stadium and while Arsenal were getting closer and closer, Leicester’s resistance was admirable.

And then, from what was always likely to be the last attack of the game, Welbeck restored the natural order. Marcin Wasilewski needlessly gave away a free-kick, flattening Nacho Monreal when all he had to do was close him down.

Mesut Ozil whipped in a free-kick and Welbeck’s head did the rest. Was this the sign that the pressure will crush Leicester in the end? The inability to hold out against a tide of elite privilege and entitlement.

The best players, the quality of the squad, all the advantages of the chasing pack, as embodied by Arsenal’s bench. An England international striker as substitute? How Leicester would love that.

So, this time, they broke. It is how they return from this that matters, though. What they do to pick themselves up, in their next match at home to West Brom. Still six points from nine, in games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal. Would they have taken that at the start? Probably.

Arsenal beat them soundly away from home earlier in the season, but not here. Indeed, they scored after 71 minutes with what pretty much amounted to their first shot on target all game. It came after Leicester had held out against an unremitting onslaught once Danny Simpson disappeared, shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson. Leicester were at full stretch, pinned back in their own half, deep, deep, deep.

It could not last. Finally, Hector Bellerin crossed, Olivier Giroud won the header and Theo Walcott was more alive to it that substitute Demarai Gray, leaving Kasper Schmeichel no chance.

After that, there were thrills and spills, but no more goals until Welbeck’s final intervention. Per Mertesacker tried to over-steer a header into a corner, and missed – Alexis Sanchez came close with a shot, Schmeichel made a quite brilliant save from Giroud with three minutes remaining. Yet Leicester held. As ever, they managed to threaten with the odd break, even against such overwhelming odds.

Did Simpson deserve to go? Probably not. He was booked in the 49th minute for hauling down Sanchez, then grappled unwisely with Giroud from a throw-in.

It seemed a desperately soft second yellow, although repeat offences in quick succession are hardly the brightest move. Anyway, Leicester’s fortune around the penalty area in the first-half – and a very poor dive by Riyad Mahrez in the second-half – balanced the injustices, even if that is a depressing thought. Unlike Leicester, still top of the league. For how long depends on how hurt they are by this.

They have got away with a few of late, Leicester. Robert Huth could easily have been sent-off early for an elbow against Liverpool, and would then have been unable to score his goals against Manchester City the following week.

So it was here. Arsenal had a spot kick rejected that looked appealing – and Leicester had one given that appeared more dubious with each viewing.

Mind you, fans of the league’s smaller entities will merely say that like the current order at the top of the table this is a reversal that is long overdue. Welcome to our world, Arsenal and the rest of the elite.

Still, it wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair. N’Golo Kante certainly looked to have handled when cutting out a cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the ninth minute – and Nacho Monreal’s challenge on Jamie Vardy in the 44th minute was not as nefarious as it seemed in real time, or after a first replay. It was only on repeated viewings that Vardy’s cunning became apparent.

While Monreal did indeed dive in, Vardy made damn sure that there was contact, too. He was smart, though – in a dark-hearted way – and made it very hard for the referee, to give any decision other than a penalty.

There were howls of injustice from the locals, but there probably would have been even if Monreal had taken him out with a billiard cue. Vardy remained unmoved. He took a fabulous penalty, Petr Cech going the wrong way, the ball nestling in his left corner. It wasn’t what Leicester deserved in terms of possession, but they did have the best chances.

Cech needed to make two very good saves to stop worse damage being done before half-time. Leicester’s first chance, in the 16th minute, showed why Leicester are regarded as fresh air in a competition that could have grown stale with the dominance of a handful of super-rich clubs.

Aaron Ramsey was away, having sprung Leicester’s defensive line when Schmeichel made the bold decision to challenge him, 50-50, a good 35 yards from goal. He sprinted out and threw himself into a desperate sliding tackle. Had he missed the ball he probably wouldn’t have been seen again until March.
Instead, he won it, as well as any centre-half, setting up a counter-attack from which Leicester almost scored. The move ended with a Marc Albrighton cross and Vardy’s header, saved low at the near post by Cech.

His second fine stop of the day came after 40 minutes when Kante struck a curling shot from the left which Cech tipped round, magnificently. It was one of those defining performances from Kante, the sort that will make major clubs across Europe take notice.

He was everywhere – Claude Makelele at the back, Patrick Vieira surging forward – and those clubs spending fortunes on recruitment departments must look at the £6m Leicester paid Caen and wonder what their own spies were doing.

Time and again, Kante thwarted Arsenal when it mattered, meaning they saw plenty of the ball but had little to show for it. Oxlade-Chamberlain got into a good position inside the first minute but crossed when he could have shot, Olivier Giroud steered a couple of headers over, Alexis Sanchez nodded one wide. The sending off changed the dynamic, obviously. Until then, Arsenal had promised much, delivered little.

By Martin Samuel for the Daily Mail

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1.Amazing people arent making more of penalty on bellerin. that was another goal stolen from us. add to ramsey’s goal from last week and thats 2 weeks in a row. PLEASE : can we have some limited video challenges????

2.Honestly, I’m surprised by the fact that so many here are abusing Wenger now, meanwhile they are the very persons that were praising him earlier for the team selected today.

3.That’s the best team we have at the moment, once again INJURIES/ILLNESS helped Wenger make a good decision. I think we were very good with the ball, but we all know Arsenal don’t shoot. Characteristically we don’t shoot and that’s a big problem.

4.By the way, you think just because Newcastle were down to ten men so we could just score them tons of goals??? Naaa!!! It’s much more difficult scoring against a team that’s one man down, because all they would be thinking is “DEFEND”, “COUNTER”, “DEFEND”. The lads tried, but truth is that Theo isn’t good enof a striker for Arsenal, HE IS A WINGER, and Giroud is just GIROUD.

5.I don’t care..ugly win but what’s important is that we got three points…but our striking options gives me headache..1clear goal in 4 games is not pleasin

6.Arsenal has to keep their nerves,,,,,,,,,really….well nxt tym ,,,,,u will have to keep yr balls…Arsenal played like a bunch of high school kids with no leader.

7.What’s clear from today’s performance is Walcott is not a CF nor never will be..he has had his chance to prove and hasn’t taken it

8.This lineup is gelling for me: sanchez at CF. ox on LW, walcott on RW. both wingers given permission to run in, not just pass from corner. obviously sanchez wouldn’t park himself on the cb’s shoulder like OG does, he’d be mobile. maybe sanchez could become more like aguero if given 5 games at CF. good to see giroud trying a shot from distance. gotta give him credit for that and roving more today.

9.I don’t know about the “Walcott never will be” prediction, but right now Walcott is lacking in way too many aspects of CF play.Sometimes the CF needs to create something when the rest of the attack is stagnant. He certainly does not know how to do that yet.

10.This team cannot wait for Walcotts progression as a striker any longer,we have been waiting for yrs for him to be something he is not,we need goals ,he is more effective outwide making them..

11.Let’s not talk about other teams’ results and focus on ourselves.
We could not score against a team who were down to 10 men for 70 mins. Enough said.

12.Walcott is not a striker, sooner he and Wenger realise this, the better. Out of Walcott and Giroud i would pick OG in a heartbeat( doesn’t mean he is good though). It’s like choosing out of the worst of options, whichever is less worse.
We need a poacher who is mobile and also provides physical presence.
Does Walcott ever head the ball? Can he convert crosses to goals? no.

13.Today while watching chelsea’s match with my friend, i gave a cynical laugh and he ask what, i replied : “that awkward moment when you realise YOKOHAMA tires arent good for your bus but your bus is already on the expressway”

14We had weeks to address a well documented lack of bite in attack and lack of cover for Coquelin.Has anything been done yet? NO.How would Mr Wenger like to have to sell a prized player on deadline day? He wouldn’t so why wait so long and risk losing a deal?Get a proper top class striker or you are not serious about bringing this club to the level it SHOULD be competing at.

15.Ya’ll should keep moaning bout wenger…the crook doesn’t even care bout what we think so i finally realise am only hurting myself by being frustrated by him.. whatever happens, i’ll always be here to cheer for the team,win or loose. but no way i’ll let this team frustrate me anymore, no way they’ll affect my health again

16.17.It is a very concerning point for a club when its supporters are starting to get apathic. I see more and more (including myself) who have gone beyond frustration-level of disappointment of how the club is run. Usually I would kill for a season ticket if I lived in London, but now I really can’t be arsed to spend that amount of money on a club being driven and entertaining on such a low level as it is now. If change doesn’t come soon (as in this is wengers last season), I suspect the club is going to have a decline in fans worldwide for as long as the trend continues

17.PLEASE stop this experimenting and sign A Top CF.Walcott is a winger. He is capable of scoring 20 goals from there. Keep him on the right.Also no more Ramsey on the right or Ozil on the left nonsense. Seriously, we started the season with almost every player healthy including Walcott, Oxlade, Alexis. These three are our best wingers.

18.Today’s positioning wasn’t too bad. Oxlade on the right, Cazorla cam and Alexis left, with Ramsey b2b that was fine. Only Walcott is NOT suited as a CF.SO please for the love of God, Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Krishna, Odin etc, sign a Top CF

19.Also sign a Very good LW too back up Alexis. I’m sick of seeing Ozil and Cazorla there. Leave Welbeck for League Cup and keep Walcott on the right.That’s it. We need more GOALS!!!!!!!

20.Ramsey was playing centrally TODAY. But the comment above merely suggested that Wenger not go back to the Ramsey at RW which is the most frequent scenario. This is not a one game thing. This has been a problem for a long time.

21.If Wenger is again faced with the choice of benching Ramsey or playing him at RW, Wenger will put him at RW for sure. The only reason Ramsey played centrally today was because Ozil was not in the lineup. No other reason.

22.Calm down all Gooners. The goals will start arriving through the Gunners in their good numbers after the international break. Let’s pray to God to keep the Gunners away from international duty injuries and let them all returned in good conditions to host the Potters. And beat them to the 3 points that will be at stake at the Emirates Stadium. As for me, I thank God and sang praises to Him for given us all the points at St James’ Park, Newcastle. It wasn’t easy, but we won the game. How about you Gooners? did you give Glory to God? By singing, Glory be to God in the highest Amen, for His mercies endureth forever, Amen…..

23.Yes. I took 3 things from the game.

a. Arsenal attack was flat (as you stated).
b. Newcastle was very solid and organized – they had a part in stopping the Arsenal attack.
c. Arsenal figured a way to pull a win.

24.Yes. Arsenal have Ox and Walcott for the RW. And this makes it even more frustrating when Wenger continually plays Ramsey at RW.I believe Wenger would more likely shoot himself in the head than leave Ramsey out for one game.

25.Thank you Wenger. Thank you for keeping our nerves and taking us 1 step closer to the 4TH Place Trophy. You are top top top…quality manager.

26.I’ve been seeing a lot of people whom I don’t recognize lately. where did all you negative nancys come from? You come here and complain about Wenger when the team is struggling. It’s a very weird habit.

27.Newcastle are a tough team to break down- did Utd beat them or score against them last week at old Trafford ?They were at home , went down to 10 men and never left their half afterwards – that’s difficult to breakdown.It wasn’t a good performance , but it’s a win and Newcastle never managed a shot on goal.

28.I laugh at those giving out about Giroud and wanting Walcott played instead – they’re pretty quiet now.Giroud as good player – anyone who says different or uses terms like “donkey” hasn’t a clue about football.Better strikers are available but he’s the best we have and a lot of teams would be delighted to have him.

29.About the Walcott vs Giroud debate …….Walcott had some great games prior to this. Against the right opponents his pace can be devastating. You can’t fully judge a new CF by 1 or 2 games only. If that was the case Giroud and many other CFs would be retired by now.That said, it is clear Walcott is lacking in many of the skills needed to be a good CF. Will he gain those skills?? It seems doubtful at this stage in his career. You are right – his future at CF is far less than certain.And Giroud’s stats prove he is a much better striker than many fans will admit. His goal production stats were nearly identical to both Costa and Benzema for last season (goals+assists in all comps per minutes played).

30.Arsenal have not been great in attack this season but it may not be all bad because …….

a. Take a look at some of the opponents. W.Ham has shown they can beat good teams. And Arsenal are the only team to beat Palace this season. These may seem like bottom table clubs but they are playing very well.

b. In the last 3 games Arsenal have been denied 2 clear PK opportunities and Ramsey’s goal for erroneous offside call. If these types of calls turn the other way this can spark the Arsenal confidence and attack.

c. Wenger often picks up his transfers very late in the window.

31.Agreed, for all the negatives there has been some positives,we have often left st.James park with less and played alot better, still think Wenger might suprise us yet in the window!!!

32.I realize Arsenal must concentrate on their own business and not worry about how other clubs are doing but…….. Every time I get a chance to to see Joozhey lose a game my heart soars like a hawk and……

33.We couldnt even score today against 10 men for almost 70 minutes. Lucky with the own goal.Teams will make it difficult for Arsenal to play by parking the bus from now on and it is shown on the pitch that we do struggle against organized team. Striker is very important for us because
Ozil is strugling. I can assure u top striker can make Ozil as good as Zidane or Bergkamp.

34.Seventy six percent possession, 22 shots on goal against ten men and we rely on an own goal to get a result? Sure they parked the bus, wouldn`t you? Wenger reckons Arsenal kept their nerve, I reckon it was Newcastle who kept their nerve. There are no strikers better than what we have on the market so we make do with what we have. Put Walcott back where he belongs and try the Ox at CF. Would we have done better if Ozil had played? Maybe, maybe not! Play Ramsey box to box or bench him. We need Wiltshere to crack stubborn defences.


Wenger – Arsenal had to keep their nerves…..

What a nail-biting afternoon for Arsenal fans as we watched Newcastle defend admirably for over an hour with ten men against the might of the Gunners attack force, and the only way that we penetrated their defence was when we got a lucky own goal from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s wayward strike.

Wenger believes that the sending off actually made it harder for us because the Toon just camped out in their penalty area and the Gunners had to wait patiently for an opening. “Patience and nerves.” Le Prof said after the game. “I believe that we needed to not rush our game, to wait for our chances and to take one of them.

“I must say that Newcastle decided from the start to make the game quite physical and we had to keep our nerves and not become a little bit aggressive as well. I thought we did that well. Afterwards it was a strange game. You play away from home, 11 against 10, and you know that they will play 15 yards deeper, you play 10 against nine in the final third.

“the crowd is behind their team which puts pressure on the referee, and then it’s very difficult. We didn’t find the space. They defended well and they’ve shown why they didn’t concede at Manchester United as well. We are happy to have the three points and to win 1-0.”

Arsenal have now only gained a point at home from two games, but we seem to do better away from the Emirates. “It was important.” Wenger continued. “We know we’ll turn it round at home so it was important mathematically not to drop points today, not to be too far from the top teams. It was important mentally as well because we dropped points at home. We had two different away games at Newcastle and Crystal Palace but we’ve got six points. That is very good.”

It was very nerve-wracking from where I was sat, but it was nice to see Liverpool and the Portugese bus conductor drop points later on. Perhaps we are not looking so bad after all, but when are our strikers going to find out where the net is