Arsenal 0-1 Leicester City
- Goal: Jamie Vardy (£10.0m)
- Assist: Cengiz Under (£5.9m)
- Bonus: Kasper Schmeichel (£5.5m) x3, Vardy x2, Christian Fuchs (£4.5m) x1
A fairly turgid affair at the Emirates was settled by a late Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) winner, a goal that saw Leicester City move to within a point of top spot in the Premier League.
With Brendan Rodgers initially setting his side up in a striker-less wing-back system and Arsenal struggling for invention in the final third, the game looked be meandering towards an inevitable 0-0 before Vardy’s intervention.
Emulating the tactics that brought success at the Etihad in Gameweek 3, Rodgers was asked about his “masterplan” after the game:
I don’t know about masterplan, but it was the plan. It was the idea to deny space and keep our lines tight, and then obviously play through the pressure, so yes, it worked very well for us.
I thought we started the game well, first five or 10 minutes. We had good possession and then, of course, when you come away to play against any top team, you’re going to have to deal with pressure.
Then, into the second half, our lines were even tighter, we were in a better start position for our pressure, and then we enjoyed a lot more of the ball and always looked a threat.
CASE FOR THE (ARSENAL) DEFENCE
It seems incongruous to start this piece by talking up a backline that succumbed to defeat on Sunday and are without a clean sheet since Gameweek 1 but, such is the brand of football currently being served up by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, their defensive Fantasy assets are arguably more appealing than those further forward right now.
Despite facing Manchester City and Liverpool away, a West Ham United side that are scoring for fun and now fourth-place Leicester, the Gunners have shipped just seven goals this season – only Aston Villa, who have played a game less, have conceded on fewer occasions.
Brighton are the only Premier League team at the time of writing who have allowed fewer shots in the box per match this season, meanwhile.
In the shape of Thomas Partey (£5.0m), Arsenal now also hope they possess a top-class midfield general who can add further protection to their backline.
While Rodgers will argue that his tactics worked perfectly on Sunday, the Foxes hadn’t had a single shot within 25 yards of goal before Vardy’s 79th-minute opener.
Arteta said of his side’s display after the game:
I was really pleased with the first half, the way we pressed, the aggression we showed against a team that are very capable of breaking that pressure and creating chances against you. We were very effective against that, we were on top of the game, we restricted them to nothing, we had the right opportunities to attack good space and create some chances.
An injury to the ball-playing David Luiz (£5.5m) disrupted the Gunners at both ends of the pitch but Arteta wasn’t sure of the severity of the issue, saying:
I don’t know. We’ve lost a few players in the last week or so. David had a muscular problem and he couldn’t carry on – we’ll have to assess him in the next 48 hours.
Arsenal’s fixtures are mixed at best over the coming month but they sit top of our Season Ticker from Gameweeks 12-20 and their defenders, more of whom in the Premium Members Analysis section, are names to monitor from that point.
Wesley Fofana (£5.0m), incidentally, was excellent for the visitors, as he was last week.
AUBA ALL RIGHT
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.7m) was finally moved off the left flank on Sunday – and switched over to the right.
Arteta’s aversion to playing the Gabon international centrally continues and the premium FPL midfielder again had few sights of goal, with his early, off-target header from a Kieran Tierney (£5.4m) cross being the only time he touched the ball in the Leicester box.
Aubameyang has now blanked four Gameweeks in a row, the first time that has ever happened since his move to the Premier League.
The recalled Alexandre Lacazette (£8.4m) again had the better chances, seeing an early header ruled out for offside before fluffing his lines from another Tierney delivery close to goal.
With there being few goals from central midfield and rotation a big possibility (other than Aubameyang) further forward, there seems little appealing about Arsenal’s attack at present – especially while the fixtures remain iffy.
Back from a brief lay-off with a calf problem, Vardy emerged for the final half an hour of yesterday’s game and continued his fine run of form against the Gunners: this was his 11th goal in 12 meetings with the red half of north London.
The veteran striker nodded in Cengiz Under‘s (£5.9m) square ball after a superb, defence-splitting pass from Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) had set the Turkish winger free of the Arsenal defence.
Vardy was later denied a second goal when Bernd Leno (£5.0m) saved his one-on-one effort in stoppage time.
All six of the striker’s goals have come on the road this season (four from the spot, of course) and it is Leeds away next up for the Foxes, who have looked more comfortable on the break at Manchester City and Arsenal than they have on the front foot in their last two outings at the King Power Stadium.
Vardy said of his comeback:
Me and the manager spoke yesterday and that was always the plan because I’m coming back from a little niggle. You don’t want to be chucked straight in, it’s about feeling your way back into it.
It was probably going to be the last 20 minutes or half an hour and that’s what has happened, and luckily I came on and made an impact and we can take three points home.
Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) had begun the game as an “out of position” centre-forward in Rodgers’ striker-less set-up, getting little joy from the Arsenal backline before his 74th-minute withdrawal.
Explaining his decision to omit Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m), Rodgers says:
Iheanacho can hold the ball, but I didn’t feel we needed that, so Harvey was there to stretch the game. The idea was always to bring Jamie on. Him and Cengo [Under] came on and Marc [Albrighton] made a valuable contribution too.
Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Leno; Bellerin, Luiz (Mustafi 49′), Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka, Partey; Saka (Pepe 65′), Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Leicester City XI (3-4-3): Schmeichel; Fofana, Evans, Fuchs; Castagne, Tielemans, Mendy, Justin; Praet (Vardy 59′), Barnes (Under 74′), Maddison (Albrighton 81′).
LESSONS LEARNED FROM FPL GAMEWEEK 6
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