Two points from three games against the top clubs in the league is really quite astonishing, and I’m delighted with the start that the Foxes have made. While we’re still looking for a first win, I don’t think many would have expected a single point to be next to our name at this stage.
It was another highly open end-to-end game which left me and everyone watching breathless as we had little chance to pause. Pearson selected the same eleven that lost 2-0 away at Stamford Bridge last Saturday, meaning new signing Cambiasso would have to wait for his debut. On the journey to the ground I did feel really optimistic about our chances against the Gunners, but wished that Jamie Vardy would have been chosen to start as I felt his speed would do wonders against this slow Arsenal back line.
We began the game a lot less nervy than we began the season against Everton but Arsenal started to dictate the tempo and control possession like they attempt and very often succeed every match. The great energy and defensive work by every player did however made it difficult for anything meaningful to come of Arsenal’s control, and we looked a real threat when the ball was intercepted and fed to our front men.
I felt like we were fortunate to be up against Sanago, with Morgan and Moore dealing with him easily, as if it were Walcott – who is currently sidelined with injury – the game may have been very different. Sanago had numerous chances throughout the game but Schmeichel was on hand to deny him at every opportunity.
Despite a fairly evenly matched start to the game, it was Arsenal who took the lead through Sanchez who scored his first Premier League goal since his move from Barcelona. It was a bit of a sloppy goal to concede but the moment I saw Schmeichel leave his goal to throw himself at the ball, I knew we were in trouble. He failed to reach it and the ball found itself to Alexis who had little trouble finding the net. I can’t really say I can fault the keeper as it seems to be what they do, and he more than made up for it later in the game.
The Arsenal fans burst into voice but it took less than two minutes before the former Brighton striker, Leo Ulloa, levelled for Leicester with a really sweet header from a fine ball from Schlupp, and silenced them. I’ve been really impressed by Ulloa, and I’m very relieved he is showing why £8m was paid for his signature! He was great throughout the game at holding the ball up and getting other players into the game. These quick comebacks have been really promising to see.
The atmosphere was really quite remarkable. I feared with a capacity ground with people coming to watch Leicester for perhaps the first time, that many wouldn’t join in, but I couldn’t be more wrong. From the moment we got our equalizer every moment of positive play and defensive work was cheered and applauded like we’d scored a goal. It must have been brilliant for the players, and the Loughborough born centre-back Liam Moore must have loved it most of all, with chants of “he’s one of our own” giving me goosebumps!
Mahrez had another quality game out wide, and I fear that we may struggle to keep hold of him if he keeps them up! While his movement with the ball and creativity to pick out players is some of the best I’ve ever seen in a Leicester shirt, it is his work rate and his role as a team player that impresses me even more. As the game went on he found himself being increasingly needed as Arsenal started to move the ball with a bit more purpose, but he and De Laet dealt with the attack from the left with ease, and one of my match highlights was when he took the ball from Sanchez, stormed up the right flank, and almost scored what may have been goal of the season had he been more accurate.
Arsenal looked much more dangerous later on in the second half, and I was bracing myself for a goal, but it just never came. I’ve found it quite difficult to pick out opposition players when they’re in the flesh instead of on TV, so forgive me for saying that the world-class midfield of Arsenal didn’t look as threatening as I may have expected! Ramsey did stand out as one of the better players but it came as a shock when I saw that Ozil was playing when I got home.
When Vardy did come on, with thirty minutes left on the clock, my fears of a defeat changed to an optimistic victory. My faith was almost rewarded as he did indeed look a threat and may have scored if a one-two return from Nugent was better. I really do like Nugent but I struggle to see him keep Vardy out of the team who I feel offers much more. My opinions may change when we play a team closer to our level!
So it was 1-1 that the game finished and I’d have taken a point without hesitation before kickoff. I’ve looked at the stats for the game and they tell a much different story to the one I watched. Sure Arsenal had more attempts, but I judge who should win based on clear-cut chances, and for that it was much more even.
The man of the match is difficult to award after such a great team effort, but I’d go for the captain Wes Morgan. He’s silenced any doubters that feared his lack of speed would prove costly in this division. Mahrez and Ulloa are also worth highlighting too.
The games will only get easier now… right?