This was a pivotal weekend in the title race
Making predictions this season has been incredibly difficult, and no one would have expected that the title race would involve a relegation candidate and two teams famous for bottling it.
Regardless of who ends up top this season, today’s fixtures would be looked back on as defining moments in the title race. A loss for Arsenal would have meant effective elimination from the title race. A win for City would have seen them firmly back in it.
The schedule certainly favors Leicester and they are still two points clear at the top. This result ensures that Arsenal still have a chance however.
We must learn from our mistakes
It would be trademark Arsenal to win a huge game like this, and then lose the next fixture against inferior opposition to throw it all away.
Beating Manchester City seemed like a turning point, but we quickly ensured that the result meant very little by going on a dreadful run of draws and losses. With the title race this tight, we cannot afford to do this again.
We could probably afford to drop a couple more points at most in order to secure the title, so any mistakes could prove costly.
Substitutions decided the game
It’s rare that Wenger gets praise for his tactic acumen. More often than not, it’s the lack of tactical flexibility that gets highlighted by pundits and criticised by fans.
Bringing on Walcott was a good option following the dismissal of Danny Simpson. A fast attacking player running at tired defenders tends to get positive results. Despite his awful recent form, he conjured up an excellent finish and initiated our comeback.
Welbeck was a surprise addition to the squad, let alone on the pitch – but his contribution was simply incredible. Scoring the winning goal was a fairytale return for a player whose Arsenal career was stalled by nearly a year-long absence.
Strength in depth could win Arsenal the league
The stark contrast in quality of substations available to the managers was a huge factor. Being able to bring on two international level players with a ton of Premier League experience is something Ranieri does not have at his disposal.
All season long, everyone has been talking about the lack of depth in Leicester’s squad. However, when you only focus on the Premier League, you can afford to effectively not have to rest players.
For Arsenal, Wilshere and Cazorla are back in training, while both Welbeck and Alexis are already contributing on the pitch. The key to our sustained challenge on three fronts may come down to the ability to rotate without losing too much quality.
The referee had an interesting night
The game plan of a lot of teams when it comes to playing against Arsenal is to be overly physical. It is a well-known fact that our team is one of the shortest and lightest in the league.
Leicester did not hit the lofty heights of cynical foul cycling that teams like Stoke achieve, but they certainly did as much as possible to disrupt our game. It was down to the referee to prevent this from happening, and he should have been stronger to penalize their players for these tactics.
The penalty that Vardy won was somewhat dubious, but I can see why it was given. Monreal’s attempt at making a tackle was feeble, and he invited contact. Mahrez could have won another penalty, while Arsenal had some genuine handball claims.
The sending off was a little harsh, and either foul could have just been a caution rather than a yellow. As much as each incident should be viewed in isolation, the referee perhaps took into account the excessive fouling that was happening during the game when he made this decision.
The game could have finished with all 22 players on the pitch, and no penalties – so it sort of evened out in the end.
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