3️⃣ points as Leicester sink Arsenal with a second-half double


Seamus Leonard

Article image: 3️⃣ points as Leicester sink Arsenal with a second-half double

It was a cracking game at the King Power Stadium, with two second-half goals helping Leicester past Arsenal and lifting the hosts into second place in the Premier League table.

Here’s what we made of it …

Another Vardy party

He may have stepped aside from the England international team last year, but Jamie Vardy’s club career shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, the 32-year-old striker is enjoying a renaissance under Brendan Rodgers. Vardy provided the clinical finish to a fluid move in the 68th minute to score his 11th Premier League goal of the season and move above Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham in the scoring charts.

The goal marked the 20th time Vardy had netted in 22 league appearances under Rodgers, with the pair clearly enjoying working together.

Prior to the goal, it had been a relatively quiet evening for Vardy. But that just illustrates how dangerous he is, as he found himself in the perfect spot at the right moment to slot past Bernd Leno.

The Leicester number nine turned provider eight minutes after his goal when he laid the ball into James Maddison’s path for the midfielder to fire home and double the Foxes’ advantage.

In defence of Rodgers

If people still have question marks over the ability of Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers to manage at the highest level, they surely must be in the minority.

Rodgers almost led Liverpool to an unexpected Premier League title in 2013/14, but the Reds failed to hold their nerve in the run-in and were pipped at the post by Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City.

Liverpool were a joy to watch going forward that season, but the concession of 50 goals ultimately cost them. The leakiness of the defence during Rodgers’s time at Anfield led many to question his ability to manage at the top table.

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Despite seven successive domestic trophies during his tenure at Celtic, the lack of serious competition north of the border failed to convince the doubters that Rodgers had improved enough to be considered for the top jobs.

When the Northern Irishman replaced Claude Puel at Leicester in February, it was taken as given that he would want the Foxes to play his trademark expansive and attacking football.

What we weren’t anticipating was the defensive solidity, especially after Harry Maguire departed for Manchester United for big bucks in the summer. But Çağlar Söyüncü has stepped into the breach and the Leicester backline hasn’t missed a beat. The Turkey international has formed a formidable centre-back partnership with Jonny Evans.

Leicester have the meanest rearguard in the division, having conceded just eight goals in their 12 games to date. The 2-0 win over the Gunners marked their third consecutive league clean sheet.

Having Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi at the base of midfield is clearly helping, but credit must go to Rodgers for making Leicester so consistent on both sides of ball in such a relatively short period of time.

Away off the pace

It actually wasn’t that bad a performance by Arsenal, but that won’t make the travelling Gunners feel any better on their way back to North London.

The 3-5-2 formation seemed to work reasonably well in the first half, and Leicester were struggling to get in behind Arsenal’s wing-backs Héctor Bellerín and Sead Kolašinac.

Ironically, the visitors had enjoyed a prolonged period of dominance just before Vardy netted Leicester’s opener. After that, however, it was all downhill for Unai Emery’s men as they crashed to yet another away defeat.

Arsenal have won just four of their last 19 games on the road in the league, a statistic that has change drastically and soon if they are to have any hope of claiming a top four spot.

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Lying in sixth and eight points off the running for a Champions League spot, the pressure on the board at the Emirates Stadium to replace Emery will only increase after this latest setback.

The international break is a dangerous time for struggling managers. Emery would have to consider himself fortunate if he is still in the dugout when Southampton visit the Emirates in a fortnight’s time.