Arsenal ended a run of two consecutive away Premier League defeats with an impressive 3-1 victory over high-flying Leicester City on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s men fought back from an early Youri Tielemans goal to score through David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, ending a three-game losing streak at the King Power Stadium in the top flight.
The result means Arsenal closed to within three points of sixth-place Liverpool, having played a game more, while Leicester stay third and 13 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Tielemans gave Leicester the lead with a precise finish after being allowed to run unchecked into the Arsenal box, with Kieran Tierney out of position and Pablo Mari distracted by Jamie Vardy.
It was the fourth time the Gunners had conceded in the opening six minutes of a league game in 2021, but it seemed to spark them into life, with Pepe winning a penalty only for VAR to determine he was fouled outside the box.
David Luiz deservedly equalised six minutes before the break, steering a fine header past Kasper Schmeichel from Willian’s free-kick, and the visitors were ahead in injury time.
Pepe’s shot was blocked by the raised arm of Wilfred Ndidi and this time VAR ruled in favour of a penalty, allowing Lacazette to smash home from the spot.
5 – Alexandre Lacazette has converted all five of his penalties for Arsenal across all competitions, while only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (13) has netted more goals for the Gunners than Lacazette (11) this term. Restored. pic.twitter.com/LDmxhadeqq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 28, 2021
Injury problems struck each team either side of the break, with Emile Smith-Rowe limping off for the Gunners before Leicester’s Harvey Barnes was taken off on a stretcher, his left leg in a brace.
Arsenal scored their third soon afterwards, Pepe leading a counter-attack and then tapping a loose ball into the net after good work from Martin Odegaard and Willian.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench and almost made it 4-1, skipping into space and firing just wide of the right-hand post.
What does it mean? Gunners into top 10 as concern builds for Leicester
Given their poor start to the game, Arsenal’s performance was as assured as any they have produced in recent weeks and lifted them back into the league’s top 10.
Leicester stay third but, after a surprise Europa League exit to Slavia Prague this week, this was not the way Brendan Rodgers will have wanted them to respond.
The Foxes will hope these defeats do not point to a repeat of 2019-20. They lost on February 28 last year, away to Norwich City, during a six-game winless run that prompted a poor end to their season and a failure to see out a top-four finish.
Pepe starting to peak
Pepe menaced full-back Luke Thomas in the first half to the extent the Leicester man was substituted at half-time on a yellow card.
Having won the free-kick for the equaliser and Lacazette’s penalty, Pepe then started and finished the move that effectively killed the game. He has now scored four times in his most recent seven league starts, as many as in his previous 21 across all competitions.
Leicester lose identity
Leicester seemed out of sorts after going ahead and barely threatened Bernd Leno’s goal from then on, with Jamie Vardy strangely isolated in attack.
The man who scored 11 goals in his first 12 league meetings with Arsenal had 21 touches and failed even to attempt a shot.
Arsenal head to Burnley next Saturday, three days after Leicester face the same opposition at Turf Moor.
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