Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck - both off the substitutes' bench - made the difference for Arsenal during their dramatic 2-1 victory over Leicester yesterday, scoring the equaliser and late headed winner respectively in a nervy second-half, with the Foxes down to ten-men at the Emirates.
Although Claudio Ranieri's side are still at the top, the Gunners' win was an important one - cutting down the gap at the summit to just two points, with plenty left to play for in the remaining few months of the league campaign.
Danny the match-winner in emotional return
Having been out of action for ten months with persistent knee issues, it was an emotional return to the first-team setup for Danny Welbeck. Warmly applauded as he came on in the latter stages, he'd worked on his fitness by training intently and playing under-21 fixtures prior to his inclusion in the matchday squad. But little did many predict, he'd become the match-winner, especially in the fashion he did. A last-gasp header from close-range, completing a morale-boosting comeback, the script couldn't have been written much better.
As quoted by the club's official website, Welbeck said he "thankfully got the goal at the end", because he was "annoyed" that he failed to score a previous opportunity, especially given the hosts' domination in the final third after Danny Simpson's second-half dismissal.
"It's only one goal [for me]. I want to be out there playing minutes and staying fit, so that's the main thing." - Welbeck on his well-taken strike, and determination to stay in the team
Walcott an inspired inclusion
Despite being understandably frustrated by his lack of playing time in his preferred role as a centre-forward, Theo Walcott was effective when called upon to expose Leicester's defensive frailties in the second-half. The tempo and overall attacking intensity increased when he was introduced into the fray, and although he's often struggled in a wing position this term, he didn't disappoint this time around.
When asked about the instructions he was given when subbed on, Theo replied saying to simply "just win the game", "be direct and get as many balls into the box" as possible. It proved troublesome for the visitors' backline, they could only deal with so much pressure before they inevitably crumbled - having a man disadvantage didn't help the cause either.
"I know we were against 10-men, but still, you tend to find it more difficult against ten. Leicester are no mugs, they are a good team, a very good team. We have got a big game in the FA Cup (next week) and this [result] is going to boost everyone."