The moment the title race turned in Arsenal’s favour

first_img 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.last_img read more

Southampton 0-2 Arsenal: Gunners keep Champions League hopes alive

first_img1 Arsene Wenger’s side moved within three points of fourth placed Manchester City Alexis Sanchez hit his 20th Premier League goal of the season as Arsenal saw off Southampton to keep their Premier League top-four hopes alive.The Gunners secured a vital 2-0 win in this game in hand to leapfrog Manchester United into fifth and now sit three points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City.Sanchez struck the opener on the hour mark at St Mary’s before Olivier Giroud came off the bench to make sure of the points with a close-range header.Under-fire Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has constantly reiterated his side cannot put a foot wrong in their remaining games, and they were solid enough to take home victory from the south coast to keep them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.Arsenal went into this match needing a win but also having to address woeful away form that had seen them take two points from a possible 24 on the road against current top-half teams.They were not at their best here but in truth they did not need to be – this was nothing like the 4-0 thrashing they dished out in the corresponding fixture last term.Southampton appear to be coasting to the season’s end, with reported pressure on manager Claude Puel likely to ramp up after another lacklustre display.Saints had their moments but looked short of ideas in attack, where out-of-sorts forward Manolo Gabbiadini again drew a blank.The game started with nothing of the tempo and chances from Sunday’s opening exchanges from Arsenal’s weekend win over Manchester United.But it was the visitors who had the first real chance as Aaron Ramsey sent an effort wide of goal following good work from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.The former Saints youngster was enjoying a bright spell down the right but there were no further opportunities of note in the opening half-hour.That was until the Arsenal three-man defence conspired to play both Dusan Tadic and Gabbiadini onside, with the latter seeing an effort well saved by Petr Cech.Wenger was forced into a change as the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain went off with what appeared to be a hamstring issue – Hector Bellerin on in his place.Gabbiadini then sent a contentious free-kick wide of Cech’s goal before Arsenal’s skipper for the night had to be at this best to tip a Nathan Redmond drive over the bar.Both teams started the second half looking to get on the front foot but it took until the hour for Sanchez to open the scoring for Arsenal.The Chile forward picked up a pass inside the box from Mesut Ozil and left both Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens on the ground as he cut back inside and finished well.The second came in the closing stages as substitute Giroud made certain of the points, heading home Ramsey’s nod back across the box after more good work from Sanchez.It was a professional display from there on in from Arsenal, who recorded a first league win at Southampton since their unbeaten title-winning season of 2003/04.This victory may not mean as much as it did during the ‘Invincibles’ campaign, but it could have long-lasting ramifications for both Wenger and Arsenal as the Frenchman continues to contemplate whether to sign a new deal.last_img read more