Nacho Monreal continued his red-hot steak, as his speculative effort cannoned off Robert Huth’s chest to give Arsenal all three points late in the game against Leicester.
After the match against Manchester City I wondered if we would see the same sort of passion from the Arsenal players or if we would revert to type, and the first half was very much ‘on type’ from Arsenal.
The team was, for the first time this season, as I predicted. Nacho Monreal dropped into the back three, while Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin all returned to the starting lineup.
Getting to the byline but with nobody in the middle to find, Kieran Gibbs on his return did his best. When we weren’t trying to get in down the left, we tried through an overcrowded centre with Francis Coquelin all-too-often occupying the space you would expect to see Mesut Ozil.
Alexis endured a terrible half, glossed over by one great effort that cracked the bar, but that was all Arsenal really had to talk about for the first 45 minutes. We somehow managed to finish the half with six shots, two of which were on target. It felt like a lot less.
Arsenal were, as they tend to be, livelier in the second half, and I’m still not sure why they don’t do the half-time talk before kick-off.
Coquelin persisted in being a problem, and with 20 minutes left, Wenger reached for Danny Welbeck, took off Gibbs and went to a back four. Not long after, Coquelin was gone, Aaron Ramsey on in his place with Olivier Giroud replacing Theo Walcott, who did little to stake a place for a return to the starting lineup.
After all subs had been made, Laurent Koscielny landed awkwardly, hyper-extending his knee. Somehow, miraculously, he stayed on. It will certainly be an issue to keep an eye on with Spurs on the horizon.
Arsenal’s luck wasn’t to hold, however. Yohan Benalouane should have seen red for deliberately raking his studs down Giroud’s back. Mike Jones saw it and deemed it only worthy of a yellow, proving that he hadn’t really seen it at all. If he had, he would have had no choice but to give a red. As he didn’t see it, but pretended that he did, a player who had to be told to calm down when he first arrived in England because he was so aggressive, will not face retroactive action.
Just when we were starting to feel sorry for ourselves as time ran out and frustration grew, up stepped Nacho Monreal to save us again. A speculative effort from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection off Robert Huth’s chest and past a flailing Kasper Schmeichel.
Arsenal finally had the lead and there were only a few minutes to see out.
The final action involved the referee once again. This time he managed to book Alexis for getting the ball thrown in his face. Sure, the Arsenal man exaggerated the contact, but the Leicester player THREW THE BALL AT HIS FACE. His punishment? Nothing. Robery Huth, not long booked, then flew into the back of Alexis as hard as he could. The result? Alexis was told to get up, while Hut walked away having given just a free kick.
Refs, eh? How can you not talk about them?
Full match report to follow…