The moment the title race turned in Arsenal’s favour
Danny Welbeck scores Arsenal’s winner v Leicester 1 An injury-time winner from substitute Danny Welbeck gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium as Arsene Wenger’s side closed the gap to just two points on Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes.Returning hero Welbeck’s winner came 25 minutes after Theo Walcott had levelled the match, cancelling out Jamie Vardy’s penalty – scored just before half-time.But it was Danny Simpson’s unnecessary dismissal which Leicester fans will be cursing long into the night, as the 29-year-old right back picked up two yellows in quick succession while his side were 1-0 up.The Gunners started brightly as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain surged down the right wing and won a corner for his side within the first minute. Alexis Sanchez headed the resulting set piece narrowly wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s right-hand post; however Chamberlain would continue to give Leicester left-back Christian Fuchs problems for the duration of the half.In the ninth minute, having beaten Fuchs, Chamberlain appealed for handball against N’Golo Kante, although referee Martin Atkinson’s decision to wave this appeal away seemed justified in hindsight.Leicester’s first real chance of the match came after 16 minutes as Jamie Vardy’s header forced a brilliant stop from Petr Cech. The Arsenal goalkeeper would later save his side’s blushes again as he clawed N’Golo Kante’s excellent curling effort away from the top corner of the Gunners’ goal.And then came the defining moment of the first half as Kante initiated a Leicester breakaway amid Arsenal appeals for a foul by Wes Morgan on Mesut Ozil. Kante was then harshly fouled himself by Laurent Koscielny, but play was waved on by Martin Atkinson as the ball fell to Jamie Vardy who burst into the penalty area and drew a silly challenge from Nacho Monreal.Despite the Spanish left-back’s desperate proclamation of innocence, referee Atkinson signalled for a 45th minute penalty.Vardy picked himself up, dusted himself down and smashed the ball past Cech to give the Foxes a vital lead with one of the last kicks of the half.Having not been able to respond straight after the goal, Arsenal started the second period as they’d started the first – at an electric pace. Efforts from Ramsey and Giroud threatened Kasper Schmeichel’s goal, with the problems Alexis Sanchez was causing Leicester right-back Danny Simpson helping to change the course of the game.In the 49th minute Sanchez drew a foul from Simpson, which saw Leicester’s right-back awarded a yellow card and, just five minutes later, Olivier Giroud did the same, sending Leicester down to ten men.Claudio Ranieri’s decision to replace Riyad Mahrez with defender Marcin Wasilewski temporarily appeared to have solved the problem as Leicester initially soaked up Arsenal’s pressure. But, in the 70th minute, Hector Bellerin’s ball in from the right was cushioned perfectly by Olivier Giroud into the path of Theo Walcott, whose side-footed finish levelled the game.From then on, it was 25 minutes of constant Arsenal pressure as Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker all missed fantastic chances to win the game for their side.With time running out, Arsene Wenger made the decisive call and introduced Danny Welbeck to the action after 83 minutes, for the Englishman’s first appearance after nine months on the sidelines.It looked as though Leicester would escape with a hard-earned point, when Arsenal were awarded a free-kick around 35 yards from goal. Mesut Ozil took this opportunity to float a perfectly-weighted ball into the area which Welbeck was able to head past a devastated Schmeichel.There were jubilant scenes at the Emirates as Welbeck and everyone connected with the home side celebrated what felt like a decisive moment in the title race.Only time will tell how important Welbeck’s goal will be in the context of this season’s top spot, but for now it leaves Arsenal just two points behind Leicester City.With 12 matches remaining, the title race is well and truly on.