Arsenal pay price for lack of cutting edge against Leicester

Fans call on club to sign centre forward after injury to Olivier Giroud

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saves from Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy during the English Premier League  match at the King Power Stadium. Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saves from Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy during the English Premier League match at the King Power Stadium. Dylan Martinez/Reuters

 

Leicester 1 Arsenal 1

It was a day that did nothing for Arsène Wenger’s dubious claim that Arsenal are well-stocked in the striker department and under no pressure to bring in a replacement for the injured Olivier Giroud before the shutters come down on the transfer window. Yaya Sanogo was given the job of leading the line but was withdrawn 13 minutes from time, still without a goal in 17 Arsenal appearances and, on this evidence, well short of being the centre forward that Wenger needs.

With the game deep into time added on, the Arsenal supporters offered their own judgment on what they had witnessed on an afternoon when Leicester thoroughly deserved to pick up their second point of the season. “Sign a f***ing striker” reverberated from the travelling supporters. Bathed in sunshine, their mood was darkened by the absence of a cutting edge as Arsenal registered 24 attempts on goal but only six on target.

Leicester played with tremendous belief and energy and on another day could have been celebrating a famous victory. Alexis Sánchez had put Arsenal ahead with his first Premier League goal but Leonardo Ulloa scored his second of the campaign two minutes later. Both team’s had opportunities to win the game, including Sanogo and the Leicester substitute Jamie Vardy, who was denied by the Arsenal goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny, seven minutes from time.

Mirroring exactly what happened here on the opening day of the season against Everton, Leicester conceded in the 20th minute but equalised in the 22nd minute. The goal that gave Arsenal their brief lead was a scrappy affair that said little for Sanogo’s conviction in front of goal and less still for Leicester’s offside trap.

Santi Cazorla’s dinked pass caught the Leicester defence running one way and Sanogo the other. With the goal at his mercy, the Frenchman seemed to hesitate before attempting to hook the ball over Kasper Schmeichel. The Leicester goalkeeper got a touch to the ball but succeeded only in diverting it into the path of Sánchez, who had the straightforward task of sweeping home from little more than six yards.

Leicester could have been forgiven for fearing the worst at that point but, to their immense credit, Nigel Pearson’s side brought parity moments later and looked the more impressive side for the remainder of the first half.

Working tirelessly to close Arsenal down by pressing high up the pitch and always dangerous when breaking from deep, Leicester made life uncomfortable for Arsenal during that period without ever really looking like scoring again.

Ulloa had taken his goal well but Laurent Koscielny’s part in it raised questions about whether Arsenal’s medical staff were wise to allow the Frenchman to return to the pitch following a clash of heads with Jeff Schlupp earlier in the game that resulted in a lengthy delay and forced the central defender to leave the pitch for several minutes.

It was Schlupp who escaped on the Leicester left, after a nice exchange with David Nugent, to set up Leicester’s equaliser. Running out of space close to the byline the Leicester winger delivered a superb cross that caught Koscielny ball-watching and allowed Ulloa, pulling off the back of the Arsenal defender, to head back across goal and beyond Szczesny. Four minutes later Koscielny was withdrawn and replaced by Calum Chambers.

Arsenal struggled through the rest of the half and were fortunate not to fall behind eight minutes after the interval. Riyad Mahrez, a lively presence on the Leicester right, released Ulloa on the left-hand side of the penalty area. The Argentinian did the first bit expertly, bringing the ball back inside onto his right foot and sitting Chambers on his backside in the process, but his attempt to clip his shot inside Szczesny’s near post ended with the ball striking the side-netting.

It was a reprieve for Arsenal and one that they should have punished when two chances came their way in the space of as many minutes. The first fell to Aaron Ramsey, from another of those delicious pitching wedge chips from Cazorla, but the Welshman, with Sanogo screaming for the ball to be squared, headed tamely into the hands of Schmeichel.

Two minutes later opportunity knocked for Sanogo, after Nacho Monreal broke clear on the left and fed a neat pass into the path of the striker’s diagonal run. There was little finesse about what followed as Sanogo drilled a left-footed shot that Schmeichel, sprinting from his line, was able to smother.

Leicester, however, continued to offer a threat. Mahrez, showing some nice footwork, skipped away before finding Ulloa, who helped it on to Nugent in space on the left. Looking to sweep the ball into the far corner, Nugent saw his shot blocked by Mathieu Debuchy.

Vardy also had a chance to strike the telling blow but, after getting away from Mathieu Flamini and Monreal and running onto Nugent’s pass, the substitute’s angled shot was beaten away by Szczesny.

(Guardian Service)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.