Arsenal’s Monreal finds a way past Leicester in late drama at the Emirates
Change of fortune for boss Wenger as Gunners follow their stunning FA Cup semi-final triumph by earning three points in the Premier League
27 April, 2017 — By Paul Cowling
ARSENAL 1, LEICESTER CITY 0
ARSENAL needed an 86th-minute own-goal to snatch victory and move within four points of the Champions League places.
Just as the Gunners were running out of ideas, as Leicester held firm and many home fans had begun to filter out of the Emirates Stadium, Nacho Monreal hit a shot that looked to be going wide, before deflecting off Leicester’s Robert Huth and into the net.
Coming after the weekend’s FA Cup win over Man City, an upbeat Arsene Wenger reflected on a successful few days.
“We had heavy legs after Sunday, and we lacked penetration. It was difficult, as Leicester defended well,” admitted the Arsenal boss.
“But the win rewarded the team, and we are happy to have the three points.”
With the evening air decidedly chilly for late April, Arsenal generated a lot of heat in the Leicester half in the opening exchanges.
But it was the Foxes who almost took the lead on 23 minutes when Rihad Mahrez fired in a left-foot valley that was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Petr Cech.
Then it was Kasper Schmeichel’s turn to save well, this time from a Theo Walcott snapshot. And as the clock ticked into first-half injury time, Alexis Sanchez let rip with a long-range shot that scorched the crossbar.
Arsenal maintained their dominance and, on 58 minutes, Schmeichel pawed away a Granit Xhaka pile-drive with one hand.
With time running out, Wenger introduced a trio of attacking substitutes in a bid to grab the win.
One of them, Olivier Giroud went down clutching his back as Yohan Benalouane looked to have deliberately kicked the Frenchman as they both went for the same ball.
“It was dark arts, and it was close to a red card,” argued Wenger.
After Monreal’s late strike, and bouyed by their gift of a goal, the Gunners thought they had scored again, with a Mesut Ozil header, but the German was flagged offside.
There was drama off sorts in injury time, as Christian Fuchs went to take a throw in. With Alexis Sanchez not retreating, Fuchs threw the ball at Sanchez, who clutched his face and collapsed in a heap. The Chilean was booked by referee Michael Jones.
“I didn’t see where Sanchez was hit,” said Wenger.
“He didn’t know that he had to be further back [for the throw]. He thought he was in the right position, but he got a yellow card for not respecting the rule.
“The referee should have told Sanchez the rule.”
With Gunners fans venting their ire at Fuchs, they were soon whistling for the final whistle – it came soon after.
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin (Ramsey, 75), Xhaka, Gibbs (Welbeck, 68), Walcott (Giroud 75), Ozil, Sanchez.
Substitutes not used: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Martinez, Elneny.