Arsenal ensured their Invincibles record will stand for another season as they defeated the only remaining unbeaten side in the Premier League at the King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Arsene Wenger made a number of changes to the side that dumped Tottenham out of the League Cup in midweek with only Aaron Ramsey, Mathieu Flamini, and Per Mertesacker retaining their places.
The game was fairly open from the start and there were just six minutes on the clock when Santi Cazorla saw his rather tame effort cleared just a yard or two away from the Leicester goal line.
A few minutes later, Cech was forced into a great save which was then followed up by a Leicester effort that hit the post as Arsenal were slow to close down and were giving Ranieri’s players far too much space. The warning signs were there, if Arsenal hadn’t been informed of them before the match.
The Foxes may be good at coming from behind, but Arsenal have won 32 of the last 33 in which they’ve taken the lead, all of last 20. Conversely, they haven’t come from 1-0 to win since Anderlecht away some 11 months ago – the first goal seemed like it might be more than a little important.
So it was beyond frustrating when Aaron Ramsey looked to be fouled in the Leicester box only to see Craig Pawson wave play on and Leicester to go up the other end and score through Jamie Vardy. Replays showed that the Leicester defender got a toe to the ball but he also took the Arsenal man out – it was a tough call.
A few half-chances followed for Arsenal before Vardy was prevented from doubling their lead thanks to the bar. This time, however, it was Arsenal’s turn to break and as Cazorla found Theo in behind the Leicester defence, he slotted coolly past Kasper Schmeichel in their goal.
Arsenal were then forced into a change with just 20 minutes on the clock, Flamini replaced by Arteta due to a hamstring problem and for a time the Gunners looked like they were chasing shadows as Leicester stretched them brilliantly across the whole pitch.
Alexis, however, struck to give Arsenal the lead just after the half hour mark as Hector played a ball across the face of the goal. Reaching Theo first, the forward couldn’t convert at the far post and the ball bobbled to Alexis who was presented with an empty goal to grab his first of the season.
The first half positively flew by as both sides went to-to-toe without a bus in sight but it was Arsenal who managed to take the advantage into the break. Surely the second half couldn’t be as frenetic?
Arsenal started the second half looking the sharper and Alexis went close to grabbing his second when his shot was deflected onto the roof of the net. He was then given another chance to score when Theo found him at the far post but his header was blocked and went for a corner.
His reward came not long after however, found by a delightful chipped ball over the top from Mesut Ozil with 57 minutes on the clock as the Chilean rose unchallenged in front of the keeper to meet it with his head.
Arsenal had a real stranglehold on the game now, in terms of the scoreline and how they were controlling the match, producing some incisive build up play and flowing passing moves reminiscent of this side when it is full of confidence.
It was a delight to watch.
Ozil could have made it four, but he hesitated with his shot while Theo could have finished the game with just under 25 left but his curled effort was tame and easily saved.
Leicester weren’t giving up but they were certainly less dangerous than they had been in the first half as Arsenal defended well with Arteta marshaling them in a way that mocks all those who say he’s finished.
With ten minutes left, the game was finally put to bed and it was that man Alexis again with the best of the bunch. Picking it up from a throw, he touched it past his man before rifling it into the bottom left corner, the keeper given no chance.
It was a beautiful hattrick.
Then it was time for Arsenal to have a bit of a LOL in their own box but Petr Cech was able to sort it all out without making things infinitely worse. It’s nice to have a keeper that can do that.
Cech was then called into action again and again and before Vardy grabbed a second for Leicester after Cech had made another great save. It was all a little too late for them, thankfully, with just over a minute of normal time left.
By this point there had been a combined 40 efforts on goal in the match but there was still enough time for Giroud, on as a second half sub for Theo, to miss a golden chance to score Arsenal’s fifth after Santi found him just a yard or two from the Leicester goalline. A minute later he made no mistake with a great finish. 2-5.
The match was officially bonkers.
It was a superb win against a stubborn side that like to play good football. With City losing to Spurs earlier, the Gunners moved to within three points of United – Arsenal’s next league opponents – who now top the table.
Happy Invincibles Day!