Photo via Adam Davy/Pool/AP
Arsenal looked explosive and like a team on a mission. They played a club fighting for a Champions League slot. For Arsenal, it looked like the win was theirs. However, a red card prevented them from taking three points and Arsenal came away with a draw instead.
The first 20 minutes saw thrilling action as both clubs set up good chances to break the deadlock. Then in the 21st minute, midfielder Dani Ceballos set up young phenom Bukayo Saka with a gorgeous through pass. Saka shifted past Leicester defender Jonny Evans to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with another through pass on his left that Aubameyang put away to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.
Arsenal continued to set up good chances. Minutes after Aubameyang’s goal, a counterattack gave Aubameyang the perfect chance to return the favor and set up Saka for a goal. However, defender Caglar Soyuncu cleared away the danger on the cross. Minutes after that, striker Alexandre Lacazette smashed a shot on goal but Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel made an incredible save to deflect away the shot. Then minutes after that, right back Hector Bellerin set up a beautiful cross for Lacazette but his header was once again saved by Schmeichel. Arsenal headed into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Leicester came out firing in the second half as their two strikers connected for a solid chance in the 55th minute as Jamie Vardy’s cross met Kelechi Iheanacho for a shot on goal, which was saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martinez.
Things were going great for Arsenal until the 75th minute when striker Eddie Nketiah was sent off with a red card for an aggressive tackle only four minutes after being subbed in. 10 minutes later, Leicester midfielder Demarai Gray set up a beautiful through pass to Vardy who put it away for the equalizer. Arsenal would hold on in stoppage time to draw with Leicester 1-1.
This was a tough result for Arsenal. Coming into this match, Arsenal was a point above rival Tottenham Hotspur for the final Europa League spot. A win would have kept them ahead of their rivals going into Sunday’s North Lodon Derby against the Spurs. Now, the Spurs can jump Arsenal before Sunday’s game with a win over Bournemouth on Thursday.
For Leicester, they dropped to fourth place as Manchester United is now a win away from trailing the final UCL spot by a point. Scoring the late equalizer was huge for their chances for the UCL next season.
Arsenal may have dropped points, but this game was fun to watch for Arsenal fans. They came into the game with a plan and they executed it well. Saka continues to impress as his assist was beautiful. The passing was crisp and there were a lot of great chances in the first half. Schmeichel is an elite goalkeeper as his great saves prevented Arsenal from running up the score.
Despite a disappointing result, the match was encouraging as manager Mikel Arteta continues to establish his identity on the club. Let’s see how he does in his first North London Derby as manager.