Nervy Arsenal hold on to overcome Leicester at Emirates Stadium
21:42 10 February 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1
Goals from Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott were enough for Arsenal to clamber into fourth place despite a nervous second half against struggling Leicester.
Koscielny converted Mesut Ozil’s corner to open the scoring in the 27th minute and Walcott doubled the Gunners’ advantage just before the break, following up after Ozil’s attempt had been saved.
But Leicester looked the better side in the second half, halving the deficit through Andrej Kramaric on the hour mark and the home side were left hanging on for the three points.
The visitors began with a confidence that belied their position at the foot of the league, with veteran Esteban Cambiasso spraying some measured passes through gaps in the Arsenal defence.
Two of those found the pacy Riyad Mahrez, who first sidestepped Nacho Monreal to fire a shot that deflected behind and galloped beyond Hector Bellerin to reach the second and force a save from David Ospina.
Arsenal did manage to prise the Foxes’ defence open in the 15th minute as Ozil played Walcott through, but the forward’s attempted chip was blocked by veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Schwarzer also denied Ozil with a low save to his left, but he was left helpless from the resulting corner, which the German whipped to the near post for Koscielny to arrive late and sidefoot home.
Mahrez threatened to draw Leicester level with a curling attempt that crept just wide of Ospina’s far post, but instead the Gunners doubled their lead four minutes before half-time.
Hector Bellerin won possession on the right and combined with Santi Cazorla to set up Ozil for a robust drive that Schwarzer could only parry to Walcott and the winger thumped a first-time volley into the bottom corner.
Leicester were fortunate to survive a penalty appeal just after the restart, when Danny Simpson appeared to handle Cazorla’s cross, but they did have opportunities to narrow the gap.
Matty James failed to take advantage of Simpson’s through ball, while Kramaric emerged from a round of pinball in the penalty area, only to be denied by a fine stop from Ospina.
But the Gunners were unable to get the ball clear and they paid the price when Mahrez’s cross fell for Kramaric to rifle low beyond the keeper.
Arsenal’s defence continued to creak and they allowed the tricky Mahrez to wriggle free soon afterwards before sending another effort fractionally past the woodwork.
And Kramaric could have doubled his tally, running onto a through ball from Mahrez and attempting to chip Ospina, but the keeper stood tall and clasped the shot safely.
Arsenal ended the night in ragged shape – with Aaron Ramsey going off injured just nine minutes after coming on – but, despite an unconvincing performance, they survived to claim the victory.
Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin; Walcott (Ramsey 73, Flamini 82), Cazorla, Rosicky, Ozil; Sanchez (Giroud 68).