Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said his side are “taking a direction I like” after they followed up their Europa League win over Benfica with an impressive comeback victory at high-flying Leicester. Things started badly for a much-changed Gunners side, with poor defending allowing Youri Tielemens to run unchecked down the right before firing a low shot into the far corner with just six minutes played. Arsenal refused to be adversely affected, though, and took control of the game with impressive attacking intent and far greater fluency than Leicester. David Luiz headed them level from a free-kick before Alexandre Lacazette levelled from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee (VAR) judged that Wilfred Ndidi had blocked Nicolas Pepe’s shot in the box with an outstretched arm.
Pepe sealed the deserved win with a close-range finish to take the Gunners into the top half of the table. Leicester’s loss comes three days after their disappointing Europa League exit to Slavia Prague and is a big blow to their increasingly forlorn-looking pursuit of Premier League leaders Manchester City. On a miserable afternoon at the end of a dire week for the Foxes, they also had influential winger Harvey Barnes carried off on a stretcher with his leg in a brace to add to their already considerable injury problems. The Foxes’ sixth home loss of the campaign leaves them 10 points behind a Manchester City side who have won their past 20 games.
Arsenal move up to ninth, eight points off the top four but with a renewed interest in events above them in the table. Arteta actually chose to rest a number of key players on Sunday, including Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose late winner had won their Europa League tie against Benfica. In naming a stronger side on paper for Thursday’s game and resting key players at the King Power, Arteta appeared to be suggesting that success in Europe represented his side’s best route back into the Champions League. Granted, they got off to an appalling start, practically waving Tielemens in for his early opening goal. But they did not allow the incident to alter the gameplan – one designed to sensibly take the game to Rodgers’ side.