Danny Welbeck threw the Premier League title race wide open when he scored a dramatic winner with only seconds left as Arsenal beat leaders Leicester City. The Foxes looked set to hold out for a vital draw as a thrilling game went into injury time, despite being reduced to 10 men after Danny Simpson was sent off for a second yellow card early in the second half. This was until Welbeck, playing his first competitive game since April last year, glanced Mesut Ozil’s free-kick past the magnificent Kasper Schmeichel to spark wild celebrations at Emirates Stadium as Leicester lost in the league for just the third time this season. Jamie Vardy gave the Foxes the lead with a hotly-disputed penalty on the stroke of half-time after he tumbled over Nacho Monreal’s outstretched leg.
Substitute Theo Walcott then set up a frantic final 20 minutes with a side-foot finish from Olivier Giroud’s superb knockdown. Leicester still lead the table – but Arsenal’s win leaves them only two points clear. In those closing seconds, with the Emirates awash with tension and anxiety, it looked like Leicester would secure a point that would feel like a victory to manager Claudio Ranieri and his players. It would have been a draw achieved with a numerical disadvantage at the home of a title rival – and would have given them four precious points from visits to Manchester City and Arsenal. Instead, Welbeck’s intervention left Ranieri and his men desolate after an outstanding backs-to-the-wall performance, exemplified by the brilliance of keeper Schmeichel as he kept Arsenal at bay, with one late save from Giroud world-class especially notable.
As for Arsenal, this result will revive their title hopes as the impact will be just as dramatic for them. It would have felt like a defeat had they not beaten a Leicester side reduced to 10 men for 36 minutes. So the title landscape has changed – but it is still Leicester at the top of the table. Walcott’s equaliser and that injury-time winner from Welbeck, who has been out for almost a year with a knee injury, was reward for their persistence and effort in the second half. It was not just vital in the context of this game, it was crucial in the wider context after a poor run of home form which had seen the Gunners fail to win in four league games – with three draws and a defeat – before last week’s win at Bournemouth.