Leicester City 3-1 Arsenal: Arsene Wenger’s ten man Gunners lose again on the road as the end of an era draws closer
PUBLISHED: 21:51 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 22:42 09 May 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal lost 3-1 to Leicester City to continue their miserable away form in 2018.
Arsene Wenger’s side suffered an awful start after falling a goal behind to Kelechi Iheanacho on 14 minutes before having young defender Tinos Mavropanos sent off for hauling down the goalscorer a minute later to be sent-off.
The visitors regrouped and equalised through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang eight minutes after the break.
However, with 16 minutes remaining substitute Demarai Gray was adjudged to have been clipped by Henrikh Mkitaryan as a penalty was awarded.
The hard-working Jamie Vardy stepped up to fire home emphatically to make it 2-1 before Riyhad Mahrez made it 3-1 with minutes remaining.
With the end of an era only a matter of days away, Wenger opted for a young bench in his penultimate match in charge of the club on Wednesday evening against Leicester City.
It was refreshing to see young guns Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson feature among the seven substitutes. Also included was Jordi Osei-Tutu fresh from playing in the 1-0 defeat by Porto at the Emirates in the Premier League 24 hours earlier.
Arsenal are without Mesut Ozil for the remainder of the season due to a back problem while defender Laurent Koscielny faces a six-month absence following surgery on a ruptured achilles tendon which he injured during the 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the Spainish capital on Thursday.
After the emotion of Sunday during Wenger’s final match in charge of Arsenal at the Emirates there was another guard of honour – this time for Foxes centre-half Robert Huth who is leaving the club at the start of the season.
The match started at a slow pace with the home support singing a cheeky ditty about Arsenal fans ‘stabbing Wenger in the back’. The retort came back form a wag: Two words: Claudio Ranieri.
We were only 14 minutes into the opening period when the game exploded into life.
Fousseni Diabate, positioned near the line just past Cech’s left hand post, headed a deep cross back into the box – and into Kelechi Iheanacho’s path.
The 21-year-old Nigerian international showed his quality by drilling shot a low shot past Cech at his near post.
It is debatable whether the former Chelsea netminder could have prevented the goal as the ball flew through a crowded box – the real question should be whether the 35-year-old veteran will be the club’s first choice shot-stopper under the new manager next season.
Home fans at the King Power erupted at going 1-0 up but there was more to come 60 seconds later – as the evening became worse for Arsenal after Tinos Mavropanos received a red card for hauling down goalscorer Iheanacho.
The former Manchester City man chased down the Greek youngster who failed to understand how little time he had when attempting to clear the ball near the half way line in his own half.
The 20-year-old grabbed at the Foxes’ forward’s shorts leaving referee Graham Scott no option but to send off the Gunners defender.
Wenger then replaced forward Danny Welbeck with Shkodran Mustafi in a bid to shore up the depleted backline by swapping an attacker for a defender.
However, the feeling existed - given the fact Arsenal have yet to pick up an away point all season, and noting the number of poor performances the German has been involved in this season – that perhaps Wenger should have just left Welbeck up front, abandoned all hope of defence and simply attempted to outscore the home side.
It was Claude Puel’s side which dominated the rest of the half with Vardy, Iheanacho going close, while Adrien Silva had a low free kick palmed away by Cech.
The second half began with Sead Kolasinac thudding against Eldin Jakupovic’s near post after showing good technique to control a long angled ball into his feet before the rebound was cleared.
Moments later it was Arsenal’s turn to escape after Mustafi cleared off the line after Vardy played in Diabate whose tame shot was prevented from entering the net.
Arsenal levelled through Aubameyang, who slotted home after good work down the right flank from Ainsley Maitland-Niles to make it 1-1.
But that was before Gray was adjudged to have been clipped by Mkhitaryan that saw the impressive Vardy slot home for 2-1.
There was still time for Riyad Mahrez to make it 3-1 after showing excellent composure to turn inside Holding – sending him the wrong way like a passenger heading for the wrong platform – before calmly slotting home.
There was just time for the home fans to show their class by serenading Wenger with a genuine – and spontaneous – show of appreciation.
However, for many of the travelling Arsenal fans Wenger was being hailed for his work a more than a decade ago – rather than any number of his later vintages.