Arsenal blew Leicester away with a dominant second half performance to secure a 3-1 victory.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang grabbed two goals within minutes of coming onto the pitch as a Mesut Ozil inspired Arsenal side continued their fantastic run of form.
Sarri-ball and Emery-ball have been the hot topics in the Premier League columns recently but it was the return of Arsenal-ball which gave the Gunners the victory tonight. One touch passing with flair, pizzazz and sheer lairiness blew a seemingly confident Leicester side away in the second half.
Claude Puel’s side have won plenty of plaudits this season, and rightly so. In the first half they looked confident in themselves and James Maddison was running the show. But it was the young Englishman’s opposite number, Ozil, who took control of the game. It was the German’s first time captaining Arsenal from the start of the game and one in which he left the pitch in the 80th minute to a rapturous ovation.
As Arsene Wenger celebrated his 69th birthday yesterday, his former team wished Le Professeur ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’ in the best way possible: By playing – and winning – the way the Frenchman loves.
But it wasn’t always plain sailing. Leicester dominated the first half and looked most likely to go on and win. A Hector Bellerin own goal gave The Foxes a deserved lead in the 31st minute. Ben Chillwell continued his glistening international form by forcing Bellerin into his error. Flying forward from the left wingback position he has now comfortably made his own, his cross-cum-shot deflected off a hapless Bellerin – rarey beaten for pace – and past Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal.
But The Gunners have been rejuvenated under their new manager, Unai Emery. The Spaniard has moulded a resilient side and going behind didn’t dishearten them. Just before half-time, that man Mesut Ozil got his side back into the game. Starting and finishing the move, he played a ball out wide to Bellerin. The Spaniard drilled the ball into the box and Ozil, taking the speed out of the ball, found the bottom corner.
And half time didn’t slow down Emery’s Arsenal, dominating the second half. But how it could have been oh so different had Leicester had a little more luck. Wilfired N’didi’s header from a Maddison corner stinging Leno’s crossbar. It seemed all of Leicester’s conviction was stored in N’didi’s header as their fight ended from then.
Aubameyang and Mehdi Guendouzi were introduced and within six minutes, the game was over. Auba helped himself to a quickfire double but it was more a case of right place right time than super sub. Ozil and Bellerin again combined; The German picking out his full back with a delightful through ball and the Spaniard leaving Auba with an easy finish.
Arsenal’s third – and Auba’s second – was the return of Total Arsenal. A fantastic, sumptious one-touch move that carved Leicestr’s defence apart without so much of a whimper. Dummying the ball and continuing his run, it was (you guessed it) Ozil who received the ball in the box and gave Auba an open goal, meaning the Gabon international had scored four goals in just 26 minutes of play.
Words: Sam Carter