Supporting Arsenal often feels like sticking a fork in your eye just to feel the relief when it’s removed.
This was supposed to be fun.
This was not fun.
Making three changes to the side that lost at the weekend, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck all dropped to the bench with Tomas Rosociky, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez returning to the side.
We should have known what to expect as Leicester went close within the first two minutes but they had clearly left their shooting boots at the bottom of the table before travelling to London and boy, were we thankful.
The first half was a weird one.
By the break Arsenal were two goals up, and deservedly so, yet Leicester could have quite easily have found the back of the net at least three times.
The opener came from a set piece, the 14th Arsenal have scored this season. That’s more than any other side for those who like to keep track of this sort of thing.
An Ozil corner, which the German himself had won after a rasping shot was parried by Mark Schwarzer, was met by Laurent Koscielny’s foot and the defender’s finish was reminiscent of the way his compatriot, Giroud, strikes the ball.
A quite lovely goal.
The second came through Ozil once again, the German enjoying his football with some passes that were so filthy they quite possibly should be illegal.
This time, picking out Walcott, Theo had no time to think and mess it up and swept the ball into the back of the net.
Two nil and there was a rout waiting for Arsenal if they wanted it.
Winning easy is boring
The second half opened with a clear handball by Danny Simpson in the Leicester box which was waved away by Mike Jones, the same Mike Jones who handed Liverpool two penalties against the same side because he confused a face with a hand and would go on to give Leicester three freekicks for less obvious handballs outside the box.
But that was no surpirse.
This was a referee whom I said in my preview was capable of getting the big decisions wrong but in this game he demonstrated that he doesn’t discriminate against the smaller ones either.
This challenge wasn’t even a freekick (on the line so it’s a penalty and don’t start with ‘he won the ball‘).
Allowing Leicester to kick Alexis Sanchez black and blue to the point where he had to be substituted, he then stood back and watched as they did the same to Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil.
As if to compound it all, he then booked Arsenal players for ridiculous reasons, the worst being Giroud, on as a second-half substitute for the injured-by-Leicester Sanchez, for getting the ball in the back as Schwarzer cleared the ball when he was quite obviously not trying to block the keeper.
[There’ll be plenty more on Jones in our ref review, so if you fancy getting your blood pressure going again, keep an eye out for that.]
Jones, however, was the least of Arsenal’s problems in the second-half as they struggled to deal with a powerful Leicester side who created chance after chance after chance.
Lucky, lucky Arsenal
Make no mistake about it, if Leicester had known how to finish, we’d have lost this game badly.
Careless in defence, Arsenal left space behind both fullbacks who seemed to have forgotten what their primary job was and with little-to-no help from their widemen, it was all too easy for Leicester to pull our defence out of shape and create openings at will.
Their goal came from Arsenal failing to clear in the manner that they seem to enjoy so much. A good finish, the danger should have been dealt with long before it fell to Andrej Kramaric to score what was his first goal for the club.
We’re generous like that.
Arsenal did fashion a chance or two of their own, most notably Santi Cazorla’s curling effort in the second half, but after being saved by Schwarzer, Leicester broke and we looked like the Arsenal defence of old – nowhere to be seen as a side barrelled down on our goal.
The half went from bad to worse as Aaron Ramsey, brought on to help stabilse things defensively in place of Walcott, trod on the ball and signalled immediately to the bench that he needed to come off.
He looked disgusted as he trudged straight down the tunnel and it was the face of a man who knows he won’t be back this weekend.
Arsenal had to play the last eight minutes guided by Mathieu Flamini’s pointing and shouting.
For all Leicester’s pressure and help from the referee (I can moan about him because we won, right?) Arsenal managed to see out the game, less through determination and teamwork and more down to Leicester’s incompetence in front of goal.
It was a bad evening all around – from Arsenal’s performance, to the referee’s and that of the Leicester front men.
Thankfully, we’d managed to put together two chances which we had taken in the first half before we really started rocking and that was enough to see us over the line.
That won’t always be that case.
Arsenal got very lucky.
With Liverpool beating Spurs Arsenal are now back above Tottenham and in fourth place.
Told you it wouldn’t take long.