Arsenal have yet to win a Premier League game this season after failing to break down the Leicester defence, despite dominating the game at the Kingpower on Saturday evening.
Arsenal travelled to Leicester knowing that if they were to stop an implosion in their fanbase, they dare not lose. That, at least, they didn’t do.
Opting for the pace of Rob Holding ahead of the more experienced Calum Chambers, Wenger recalled Laurent Koscielny to the side, brought Granit Xhaka in for his first start and rewarded the Ox for his display against Liverpool by starting him on the left.
It was a fast start from both sides but it soon settled into a familiar pattern which saw Arsenal dominate and Leicester sit deep, hoping to hit on the break. Once again, Arsenal showed that they still weren’t entirely sure how to break down two banks of four as if they haven’t been trying for ten years.
Arsenal carved out a couple of chances, mostly down Leicester’s right, but the lack of runners or movement off the ball meant that players were coming to collect it rather than stretching Leicester to create the space that would allow them through.
Time after time Sanchez was far too deep, coming to get the ball instead of trying to make himself available closer to the Leicester goal where he could be far more dangerous.
The biggest call of the first half probably came at the end when Kos put in a quite brilliant toe to deny Danny Drinkwater. Despite replays showing he clearly got the ball (and not after/through the man), Robbie Savage was still yammering on about how it should have been a penalty (more on that in our referee review tomorrow morning).
0-0 at the break and it was hard to think that either side really deserved a lead, although Arsenal certainly shaded it.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first and quickly settled into the same sort of pattern. Arsenal needed to be patient while alert not to let Leicester spring.
Then, after about 15 minutes, they started to concede possession to Leicester as if remembering some half-time instructions they might have been given. They started to ask Leicester to find a way through their defence, turning the tables on the hosts.
Coquelin was lucky not to get a second yellow and from the resultant free-kick, Riyad Mahrez went close, although Cech always had it covered. It was notable that BT focused on Le Coq’s non-second yellow without once mentioning the handful of challenges Vardy alone got away with in the first half.
Then it was Leicester’s turn to sit back again and allow Arsenal to hold the ball and see if they’d worked out how to find a way through.
It was like watching two teams try and break through a wall with marshmallows at times.
Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere replaced Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla as Wenger searched for the key that would unlock the Foxes defence. Ozil’s first contribution was a Cruyff turn on the touchline at halfway to set Theo through on goal.
Many wondered why Coq had been left on, but that likely has something to do with Xhaka not being entirely match fit and Wenger determining the risk of a two-yellow red suspension being better than those of a pulled hamstring for the Swiss midfielder.
With Ozil looking livelier than the rest of the team after only a few minutes, Wenger called for Olivier Giroud to replace the Ox, moved Alexis back out where he belonged, and played with an actual striker.
Could we handle the excitement for the final ten minutes?
There was certainly no sign that either side would settle for a point in this game and Arsenal’s creative firepower started to make Leicester look vulnerable. It was only Arsenal who looked like scoring at this point, despite Leicester’s unsuccessful attempts to break and relieve some pressure on their defence.
Arsenal were hassling and harrying all over the pitch, giving Leicester no time on any ball in any area of the pitch. Giroud and Ozil linked up beautifully only to be denied by Schmeichel, and Arsenal set up camp around the Leicester box.
With just two minutes on the clock, Bellerin was unbelievably clumsy and should have conceded a penalty. Remarkably, Clattenburg gave nothing despite being positioned perfectly.
Leicester were finding a way out now, and nerves were on edge everywhere. Mahrez dazzled but was thwarted by Cech and that was followed by a freekick on the edge of the Arsenal box deep into injury time which hit the wall with hearts in throats everywhere.
In the end, as is so often the case, Arsenal simply couldn’t find a way through and they head back to London with a single point, knowing that all three were very much there for the taking.
This is our snap report. Please check back later and tomorrow when we will have more ratings, player focus pieces along with official reaction and our reaction to that.