Arsenal impressed early on against Leicester City, but they failed to make the most of their 11 first half chances.
“To be fair 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 to nothing, we had the right opportunities to attack good space and create some chances.”
There was a decision which left Mikel Arteta bemused, as an early Alexandre Lacazette goal was chalked off because of Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international was adjudged to have interfered in play, but replays show that he was neither in the keepers’ eyeline or attempted to play the ball. “We scored a goal as well on a set piece, I don't know how it was disallowed… Yes [it's harsh] because Granit is behind Schmeichel, he is not in front of him, so he is nothing to do with that ball, it is away from him and Granit is behind. But it's okay, they made that decision and we cannot change it.”
The duality of Arsenal
The stark contrast between the first and second half displays was evident for all to see, and it was something that Arteta has acknowledged. “I think fatigue had a say as well [as the lack of aggression], We didn't look as sharp on the ball. We didn't have as much purpose on the ball to create… We lacked that a little bit in the second half. Still, credit to them, they are really organised when they do that. It is really difficult to create the chances.”
Leicester were much improved in the second half, and the introduction of Jamie Vardy was imperative. “Then after that in the second half against a really low block you have to be patient and not make any errors because this is what they are waiting for: they just need a moment to catch you on the break or with some space and we made the decision when there is no pressure on the ball to try to attack that space and they scored a good goal…But credit to them for what they have done but I think it is a very harsh result for us considering what happened in the game.”
Vardy did what Lacazette couldn’t, and Arteta divulged why the Frenchman struggled in front of goal that night, and whether he is lacking any confidence, “Obviously, strikers need goals and he started tonight, he looked sharp and he was really aggressive in his play. Yeah, he had an opportunity to score that goal and he didn't. I just support them and give them more confidence and [help them] try to create more.” Lacazette saw his early goal ruled out but offered little else in terms of goalscoring threat again.
Catching the injury bug
The Gunners’ appear to be going through an injury crisis, with Rob Holding picking up an injury in the warm-up at Manchester City and David Luiz also getting hurt during the match on Sunday. “I don't know [on Luiz]. 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.
If Luiz’s injury rules him out for a substantial period of time, it leaves Arsenal without a varied choice of central defenders, as Sokratis Papastathopoulos hasn’t been registered this season, and Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers are either injured or recovering from long-term layoffs. It could lead to many a fans’ dream of seeing a William Saliba and Gabriel partnership, but Arteta seems reluctant to play the new arrival, leaving Saliba out of his Europa League squad, and could force either Shkodran Mustafi or Sead Kolasinac back into his plans.