10-man Arsenal continued their losing streak away from home to Leicester City and are in danger of completing the season without a single away win this Calender year. A 3-1 win was slightly flattering For the foxes because for the majority of the game Arsenal were still in it. At 1-1 it was end to end stuff and the result could have simply gone either way.
The script no Arsenal fan wanted, began to unfold but it wasn’t the usual inept performance. In fact, it was a valiant effort under the circumstances, yet Leicester managed to take the lead as fate demanded. Then after only 15 minutes Kelechi Iheanacho was through on goal but was unceremoniously dragged over by the young Greek defender, Konstantinos Mavropanos.
It appeared the youngster tried to swap shirts before full time, giving the Leicester man a heaving tug to send him turf bound. This prompted a straight red card and the defender will reflect on an error of judgment that has interrupted a promising start to his fledgling Arsenal career.
He shouldn’t dwell on it too much because he has been a breath of fresh air in defence, looking extremely capable and confident. He should also be aware that some of the greats of Arsenal sides down the years have clocked up a collection of red cards in the heat of the battle and gone on to become legends like a certain Patrick Viera. If he does half as well, then he will be in good company.
Arsenal continued to attack despite the loss of a player in a key area and Aubameyang was rewarded with another goal from a delightful piece of skill from Maitland-Niles who is fast emerging as a jewel in the cabbage patch. In defence or midfield, the youngster has shown an abundance of energy and displays great ability and technique. He will surely be will be a major part of the new Arsenal revolution next season but one hopes in a central midfield role.
Mustafi was drafted in to provide cover for the absent Greek, which almost made things verge on the ridiculous. The German seems so poor and clueless at times you could be forgiven for thinking that he was a striker who has been converted to the unfamiliar position of defender. He seems to be constantly looking for others to solve the problem or is guilty of abandoning his teammates in the hope that an unexpected hurricane may take the ball away from the danger zone.
With the wind of change imminent, Mustafi himself may be blown many miles from North London in the earliest possible transfer opportunity. Arsenal could have nudged in front but like so many occasions this season, particularly away, the advantage was wasted because of a poor final product and indecision. To make matters worse Arsenal engaged in some ping pong defending which saw Leicester’s Demarai Gray take a tumble from the leg of Mkhitaryan.
I still don’t know if it was a penalty or not, the replays didn’t seem conclusive and without the ref having some sort of slo-mo, multi-angled vision, it would probably still be difficult to be certain. I’m not suggesting Gray dived but if you are showing your laces in the box in close proximity to an advancing player, you can expect the obvious.
Vardy converted from the spot and milked the applause. From that point, it appeared that whatever Arsenal had left in the tank evaporated. The deflated Gunners were still capable of salvaging something with Aubameyang at the other end but Mahrez, so often linked with the Gunners, killed the game off with an Arsenal style counter-attack.
It seemed a little harsh but football often dishes out injustices to the non deserving and Wenger must be looking forward to booking the taxi and plane tickets to end this particular spell of misery. It’s been one thing after another for the Frenchman and the ultimate insult at the end of his management. Arsenal weren’t terrible, far from it but they weren’t brilliant either. They were up against a Leicester side that are lucky to hold the League position they have. One that makes a game tough but are not exactly Manchester City.
Arsenal struggle mentally against these types of teams and capitulate far too easily for comfort. They seem incapable of holding on for a point. They regularly snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory and have a defence that crumbles like a stale digestive. Whoever comes in needs to reorganise and make three or four urgent acquisitions to make it function properly. Wenger’s claim that his team can challenge with a few additions is optimistic at best and I suspect there will be a few faces joining Mustafi on his travels.
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