Arsene Wenger has labelled Arsenal’s performance against Leicester as “not the most glamorous” after emerging with a fortuitous 2-1 victory that lifts them back above rivals Tottenham and into fourth place.
While the 65-year-old Frenchman was pleased to get back to winning ways following the north London derby defeat to Spurs on Saturday, he did express concern at how the players dealt with the second half when the Foxes came on strong in search of an equaliser.
Dipping into football’s book of famous clichés, Wenger explained how a “game of two halves” saw the Gunners drop away significantly as the game wore on.
“It was a game of two halves,” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “In the first half we had a good cohesion, good movement, good technical quality and we scored two good goals.
“In the second half our physical level dropped, Leicester came more into the game and at 2-1 we became a bit nervous. Then it was good to finish the game off.
“After a defeat it is always important to win straight away as a big club because if you don’t do that you have a crisis. We did that so it’s a relief and a good basis to prepare for our next game.”
Arsenal 2 Leicester 1 player ratings
Arsenal 2 Leicester 1 player ratings
1/22 David Ospina 6
He didn’t enjoy the runs of Schlupp or Mahrez but when he was tested by either of them he was good enough to prevent any sort of danger. He got very used to tame shots from outside the area that he collected every time.
2/22 Hector Bellerin 6
Attempted to get forward whenever he could and unlike against Tottenham he didn’t harm his defence because of it. He was guilty for not tracking Konchesky when the left-back burst forward down the left, though that was the only glaring error he made.
3/22 Laurent Koscielny 6
Opened the scoring for Arsenal and looked alert throughout the first half. He let the ball get away for him for Kramaric’s goal - similar to the way the ball got away from him when Kane scored the winner against Tottenham - but was untroubled other than that.
4/22 Per Mertesacker 6
Left his central defensive Koscielny with trouble to deal with on a couple of seasons but did brilliantly to get back and clear when it looked as though Schlupp would equalise for Leicester City. Cleared
5/22 Nacho Monreal 5
Saw more of the play in the second half as Arsenal chose to alternate the wings more often than in the first half. For some reason he does seem rather cautious when going forward; rarely going as far as the byline.
6/22 Tomas Rosicky 6
Did what he usually does: consistently linking up the attack, while occasionally looking to spread the ball out to the flanks. Never under much pressure from Cambiasso who was meant to have been marked by.
7/22 Francis Coquelin 7
Quickly becoming a revelation for Arsenal. Since the FA Cup game against Brighton and Hove Albion he has played in every match and is almost a permanent fixture in the Arsenal midfield. Very effective when faced with James.
8/22 Santi Cazorla 6
Surprisingly he found it particularly difficult against James and Cambiasso, who it appeared had been selected to monitor and close down the Spanish midfielder at any given moment. Unable to play with as much freedom as usual, he went a little missing in the second half.
9/22 Alexis Sanchez 6
A constant pest to the Leicester City defence on his first game back after a hamstring injury. Upson, before he went off due to injury, was having to endure a torrid time marking the Chile international. He wasn’t match sharp but that was to be expected. Replaced by Giroud with over 20 minutes to go.
10/22 Mesut Ozil 6
It was his shot that forced Schwarzer to the ground and allowed Walcott to smash home. And although he provided the corner that was finished off by Koscielny, he did appear a little casual at times and seemed to be playing within himself.
11/22 Theo Walcott 7
Brilliant initiative to follow up Ozil’s shot which was pushed into his path by Schwarzer who was ground when the winger smashed past him. He is definitely now back to full match fitness and Konchesky certainly wasn’t impressed to be the one with the job of marking him.
12/22 Mark Schwarzer 5
Difficult to blame him for the first goal but could have done a little better to stop the ball falling to Walcott who smashed past him for Arsenal’s second.
13/22 Danny Simpson 5
He was a little guilty of going inside to cover too often which allowed Ozil or Monreal a clear path to goal. He was lucky neither of them took advantage on several occasions.
14/22 Wes Morgan 4
Failed to mark Koscielny for Ozil’s corner and the France international subsequently sent Arsenal into the lead.
15/22 Robert Huth 6
In the centre of Leicester City’s five-man defence. He organised his back five well and when Giroud came on he didn’t give the France international enough space to create a nuisance of himself.
16/22 Matthew Upson 6
Replaced by Wasilewski in the second half after going off due to an injury. He had endured a tough time trying to keep Sanchez in his sights.
17/22 Paul Konchesky 6
Tried to get forward as much as possible. His brilliant pass in the first half required a full stretch clearance from Mertesacker to deny Schlupp the chance at scoring the equaliser. Unfortunately he didn’t have a quiet night with Walcott coming at him with pace.
18/22 Riyad Mahrez 6
Dangerous against Monreal but didn’t do enough to threaten Ospina in the Arsenal goal.
19/22 Matty James 7
His prime objective was to stop Cazorla being as creative and offensive as possible. He did that to great effect and was one of Leicester City’s best players on the night.
20/22 Esteban Cambiasso 6
Allowed to push forward a little more than James, the midfielder helped to win back possession whenever Rosicky was a bit clumsy. He helped to provide Kramaric with support but sometimes found himself bypassed in midfield.
21/22 Jeff Schlupp 6
Should have done better to get to Konchesky’s pass in the first half. Against strong opposition you have to take your chances and Schlupp failed to do so.
22/22 Andrej Kramaric 6
Too his goal brilliantly but should have equalised in the last ten minutes. His tame lob was swiftly plucked out of the air by Ospina. To his credit he never stopped working.
Summing up the 90 minute display, in which both Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez were forced off through fresh injury concerns to their hamstring and knee respectively, Wenger described the evening as an unpredictable one in that he did not know how his players were going to respond to Saturday’s disheartening defeat.
“We were not the sharpest, we were not the most glamorous. Before the game I was concerned because I didn’t know how much of a part the disappointment of Saturday will play in the confidence level, and also how much we had recovered physically.
“I changed a few players in the team because of that and at the end of the day we are happy to win the game.”
Left-back Nacho Monreal supported Wenger’s belief, and also added that the squad may have let complacency creep into their performance when Theo Walcott struck home the second goal following a Mesut Özil rebound before half-time.
“It was a difficult game for us,” Monreal said when speaking to Arsenal Player. “I think we were not feeling 100 per cent, because we played a very hard game against Tottenham three days ago.
“I think we didn’t play [our best] game. In the first half we scored two goals and were 2-0 up at half-time. Maybe we thought that in the second half it was going to be a [bit] easier but they scored a goal and it was difficult.
“We played the last 25 minutes with an advantage of only one goal but we’re happy because we won.”
Monreal is enjoying a run in the team having started every Premier League match since New Year’s Day, even though regular first-choice left-back Kieran Gibbs is fit to feature. The English defender believes he must fight for his place in the first-team, and looked back on last season when he was keeping Monreal out of the side for inspiration.
“At some stage you’re going to have to fight for your place,” said Gibbs. “It’s the same as last year, when I was playing a lot and other players weren’t.
“You have to respect that, know what it feels like. I have to take my chance when I get it and I’m excited for that challenge.
“It’s never easy but I think it’s something that once you mature, you realise quickly the better you’ll become when you do get the opportunity.”Reuse content