Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester dented Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League with a dominant victory at the King Power Stadium. The unmarked Youri Tielemans headed in a cross from James Maddison just before the hour mark, then Vardy struck late on with a header and a tap-in from close range. Arsenal played almost an hour of the contest with 10 men after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off. A third successive Premier League defeat left them two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who drew 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford in Sunday’s late kick-off.
Leicester can still finish seventh – they are three points behind Wolves with two matches left – which could earn a Europa League place depending on the outcome of the FA Cup final. Arsenal’s task was made significantly more difficult after Maitland-Niles was sent off for the first time in his career following two bookings in the space of 28 minutes – for a soft foul on Ben Chilwell and then needlessly scything down Maddison near the halfway line. However, a three-goal margin flattered Arsenal and, even with a full complement of players, it is difficult to envisage a different outcome such was the conviction of the performance of Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester.
Arsenal were indebted to goalkeeper Bernd Leno for a string of fine saves, the pick a magnificent one-handed diving effort to paw away a Wilfred Ndidi header. Arsenal fans must be fed up with the sight of Vardy, such is the former England’s striker’s potency against them. He has scored eight goals in as many matches against the Gunners – and now has 10 in his past nine appearances against any opposition. While much has been made of the young squad that Rodgers will seek mould at Leicester, 32-year-old Vardy remains an influential presence. On the evidence of this performance, it appears as much as mindset issue as personnel for Unai Emery’s side. Where the Gunners brim with vim and vigour in the confines of Emirates Stadium, that seemingly dissipates on the road as caution infects their approach.