Leicester’s increasingly forlorn-looking pursuit of Premier League leaders Manchester City suffered a big blow as Arsenal came from behind to claim an impressive victory at the King Power Stadium.
On a miserable afternoon at the end of a dire week for the Foxes, they also had influential winger Harvey Barnes carried off on a stretcher with his leg in a brace to add to their already considerable injury problems.
Things had started well for the hosts, who were given an early tonic for their midweek Europa League exit as Youri Tielemens was allowed to run unchecked down the right before firing a low shot into the far corner with just six minutes played.
Arsenal refused to be adversely affected, though, and took control of the game with impressive attacking intent and far greater fluency than Leicester.
David Luiz brought them level, finding space in the box to steer a header in from Willian’s free-kick.
Alexandre Lacazette then put them ahead after the video assistant referee (VAR) judged that Wilfred Ndidi had blocked Nicolas Pepe’s shot in the box with an outstretched arm.
It was second time lucky for the Gunners, who had earlier had a penalty awarded on the pitch but then downgraded to a free-kick after VAR decided the offending tackle on Pepe had taken place just outside the area.
Ivory Coast forward Pepe got in on the act himself, tapping into a largely unguarded net after Willian’s pass had deflected his way.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta actually chose to rest a number of key players on Sunday, including Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose late winner had won their Europa League tie against Benfica on Thursday.
However, it came at a potential cost, though, with Emile Smith Rowe – such a bright spark in recent months – having to leave the field injured in the first half.
The Foxes’ sixth home loss of the campaign leaves them 10 points behind a Manchester City side who have won their past 20 games.
Arsenal move up to ninth, eight points off the top four but with a renewed interest in events above them in the table.
Arsenal’s season salvation job continues
In naming a stronger side on paper for the Europa League tie against Benfica and resting key players at the King Power, Arteta appeared to be suggesting that success in Europe represented his side’s best route back into the Champions League.
That may still be the case, but what the Spaniard and his squad proved on Sunday is that they are far more capable than they have demonstrated for much of this season.
Granted, they got off to an appalling start, practically waving Tielemens in for his early opening goal.
But they did not allow the incident to alter the gameplan – one designed to sensibly take the game to Brendan Rodgers’ side.
They fashioned the better chances over the 90 minutes as a result.
Aside from the goals, Willian fired a low shot just past the post, Luke Thomas’s superb sliding tackle denied Pepe from close range and substitute Aubameyang curled a shot narrowly wide late on.
With eight points and four other teams between themselves and fourth-placed West Ham, a late dart for the Champions League places remains a long shot for the Gunners, but with big players firing and talent in reserve they are in a good place to challenge for their ultimate goal.
More to follow.
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- 6EvansSubstituted forAmarteyat 69′minutes
- 33ThomasBooked at 38minsSubstituted forAlbrightonat 45′minutes
- 21Ricardo Pereira
- 8TielemansBooked at 72mins
- 15BarnesSubstituted forÜnderat 51′minutes
- 17Cédric Soares
- 23David Luiz
- 3TierneyBooked at 90mins
- 25ElnenySubstituted forParteyat 66′minutes
- 32Smith RoweSubstituted forØdegaardat 42′minutes
- 9LacazetteSubstituted forAubameyangat 84′minutes
Match ends, Leicester City 1, Arsenal 3.
Attempt blocked. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is blocked.
Second Half ends, Leicester City 1, Arsenal 3.
Attempt blocked. Daniel Amartey (Leicester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marc Albrighton.
Attempt missed. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Cédric Soares.
Attempt blocked. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marc Albrighton.
Kieran Tierney (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Kieran Tierney (Arsenal).
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt saved. Thomas Partey (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Willian.
Kieran Tierney (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Cengiz Ünder (Leicester City).
Attempt missed. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Thomas Partey.
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City).
Substitution, Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaces Alexandre Lacazette.
Attempt missed. Kieran Tierney (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Daniel Amartey.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Wilfred Ndidi.