Aaron Ramsdale proving his worth and five things we learned as Arsenal ease past Leicester City
Arsenal see off Leicester City at the King Power
First half goals from Gabriel and Emile Smith Rowe proved enough to see Arsenal home in their early clash with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, courtesy of a 2-0 scoreline.
Arsenal’s bright start paid dividends when Gabriel nodded in from a corner 5 minutes in, before Emile Smith Rowe found the back of the net from 16 yards out before the 20-minute mark. The result, albeit temporarily, moves Mikel Arteta’s side up to fifth place in the Premier League, a far cry from their woeful opening three performances.
Leicester 0-2 Arsenal.
Two different performances from Arsenal in the same game. Blitzed Leicester in the first 30 minuets and deservedly went 2-0 up. Then had to dig in and see out the game. Ramsdale excellent, but whole defence did well.
Nine games unbeaten now.
— Simon Collings (@sr_collings) October 30, 2021
Here are 5 things 101 picked out from the encounter with the Foxes.
Saka marks 100th game in style
Bukayo Saka became the sixth youngest Arsenal player of all time to reach 100 appearances for the club after being named in the starting line-up against the Foxes. A firm fan favourite, it was a trip to remember for the 20 year old, who provided the assist for the opening goal, an inswinging corner that Gabriel nodded home.
💬 “I’m very proud to stand here and say that today I’ll be playing my 100th game for Arsenal” ❤️
🎙 @BukayoSaka87 #LEIARS pic.twitter.com/7F0MGX49Uk
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 30, 2021
Still so young, there is scope for Saka to go down in history as one of Arsenal’s greatest ever players should he continue his upwards trajectory in north London.
Arsenal’s set-piece coach paying dividends
While much was made of the on-field additions made by Arsenal in the summer, it is an off the field one that is making a splash. Nico Jover was signed from Manchester City to join the Gunners as a set-piece coach, and is already working his magic.
Gabriel’s early goal marked the fourth consecutive game in which Arteta’s side have scored from a set piece, with the Brazilian rising highest to nod home in the opening exchnges.
Fourth game in a row in which Arsenal have scored from a set piece. Nico Jover clearly making a real impact since joining from Manchester City.
— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) October 30, 2021
With the Gunners notoriously poor from set-pieces, any improvement in that area is a welcome bonus for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Aaron Ramsdale continues to prove his worth
Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal agreed to fork out 24 million pounds for Aaron Ramsdale, but his influence on the Arsenal side has been immense.
Since he replaced Bernd Leno between the sticks, the Gunners are yet to lose a game, having gone unbeaten in eight attempts. Meanwhile, Ramsdale continues to prove his worth on the pitch, pulling off a wonder save to keep Leicester City out right on the stroke of half-time
Aaron Ramsdale that is insane! 😱
How he kept out this James Maddison free-kick, we will not know! 🧤⛔️
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 30, 2021
It is not just his shot-stopping that is catching the eye either, with his distribution also impressing watchers, including a beautiful volleyed pass in the first half.
— Y. (@youssfootball) October 30, 2021
His composure and shot-stopping ability helped Arsenal stand firm as they weathered a Leicester storm in the second half to emerge with all three points.
Arsenal struggle under pressure still
Come the half-time whistle, Arsenal fans could barely believe the position that they were in. 2-0 up, courtesy of coming out of the traps quickly at the King Power stadium. The Arsenal contingent at the King Power were ecstatic, the home fans silent.
The second half was a different proposition altogether, however. Leicester changed their formation courtesy of two substitutes, and the renewed width of Ademola Lookman and Harvey Barnes caused Arsenal a lot of problems.
Things Aaron Ramsdale could save. pic.twitter.com/5QaqqyjahK
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) October 30, 2021
It was only an inspired performance from Ramsdale that kept the clean sheet before the Gunners began to reassert themselves in Leicester’s half. The same thing happened against Aston Villa too, where a seeingly comfortable performance was put in jeopardy when the Villians clawed one back. Ultimately, however, it didn’t matter.
One thing it did prove, though, was that Arsenal are still capable of creaking under pressure, something that is perhaps understandable from such a young side.
What next for Arsenal’s record signing?
Mikel Arteta named an unchanged side from Arsenal’s win over Aston Villa eight days ago for their clash with Leicester, meaning that Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka occupied the wide areas. This left Martin Odegaard forced to be content with a position on the bench once more.
🚨 TEAM NEWS!
🇫🇷 @LacazetteAlex up front
🏴 @ben6white starts at the back
🇵🇹 @NunoTavares in defence#LEIARS
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 30, 2021
Perhaps a more worrying omission was that of Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s record signing when he joined the club from Lille for 72 million pounds in 2019. While Odegaard was Arteta’s first change in both encounters, the Ivorian failed to make it onto the pitch against Villa, and was only afforded the final ten minutes in this clash.
Struggling to find form, it is hard to see how Pepe works his way back into the starting side given the ability of Arsenal’s Hale End pair, meaning he may have to be consigned to the bench for the foreseeable future.
Seemingly out of favour with Arteta, and with two years left on his contract come the summer, the Gunners will have to make a decision, that either way threatens to be unpopular.
Now 9 games unbeaten in all competitions, and having seen off a dangerous Leicester side away from home, there is a sense of excitement beginning to build amongst the fanbase as to where this team can truly go. It may not include Pepe though.