Jamie Vardy’s late equaliser gave Leicester City a vital point to keep their Champions League hopes on track and end Arsenal’s recent winning streak.
The Gunners looked on course for a fifth successive victory to maintain their own outside chance of a place in Europe’s elite competition next season after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang swept in his 20th league goal of the season in the first half.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel kept Arsenal at bay with a string of fine saves before the interval, twice denying Alexandre Lacazette as well as Bukayo Saka – and it proved to be a vital contribution.
Arsenal were reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes left when Eddie Nketiah was sent off four minutes after coming on as substitute for a high challenge on James Justin, and Leicester cashed in when Vardy slid home Demarai Gray’s cross in the 84th minute, the goal finally awarded after a lengthy VAR check for offside.
It was Vardy’s 22nd league strike of the season and restored his two-goal advantage over Aubameyang at the top of the Premier League scoring charts.
Leicester drop to fourth, four points ahead of Manchester United having played a game more, but this was an important point that left Arsenal frustrated in seventh.
Arsenal’s recent run of league wins, away at Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers and at home to Norwich City, sparked hopes they could force their way into the Champions League places, especially with the lingering possibility of Manchester City being banned from the competition.
Their hopes will have risen once more as they held the lead in impressive fashion but in the end Vardy’s equaliser left manager Mikel Arteta cutting a frustrated figure at the final whistle.
There is, however, still plenty to admire about how Arsenal are developing under Arteta, especially teenager Saka, whose superb delivery for Aubameyang’s goal was his 12th Premier League assist this season, with only Kevin de Bruyne (19) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (14) ahead of him.
Arsenal have a potent striker in Aubameyang and there is a tempo and focus about their play that certainly has Arteta’s stamp – he will still feel the pain of those lost points so late on.
Leicester may have slipped a place after occupying the top three for most of this season, but manager Brendan Rodgers will feel a measure of satisfaction after his side fought back to earn a point.
The Foxes have been in indifferent form since the league restarted and Rodgers will have been desperate to maintain momentum after a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace last time out.
For long spells it looked like they would leave north London empty-handed, especially when they were relying on Schmeichel to stop them falling even further behind as Arsenal took control after going ahead.
Leicester showed spirit and composure and were handed the initiative when Nketiah’s reckless lunge at Justin gave them impetus to push for the leveller.
Inevitably it was Vardy, who joined the Premier League’s ‘100 Club’ after scoring twice against Palace, who was the scourge of Arsenal once more as he pounced for his 10th career goal against them, although there was an agonising wait before he and Leicester could celebrate.
The Foxes could not force home a winner but in the end Rodgers will take a point in the increasingly competitive fight for places in the Champions.
Super sub Gray – the stats
- Arsenal remain unbeaten in 23 home league games against Leicester (W19 D4).
- Leicester City have scored 18 goals in the final 15 minutes of their Premier League games this season, more than any other side.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is just the second Arsenal player to score 20+ Premier League goals in consecutive seasons, after Thierry Henry (five in a row between 2001-02 and 2005-06).
- Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been involved in more goals for Arsenal this season in all competitions (25) than Bukayo Saka (16 – 4 goals, 12 assists).
- At 21 years 38 days, Eddie Nketiah is the youngest Arsenal player to be sent off in the Premier League since Konstantinos Mavropanos, also against Leicester in May 2018 (20y 149d).
- Leicester striker Jamie Vardy is just the fourth player to score at least 10 Premier League goals against Arsenal, after Wayne Rooney (12), Robbie Fowler and Harry Kane (both 10).
- Since his debut in January 2016, Leicester’s Demarai Gray has registered eight assists as a sub in the Premier League, more than any other player.
Arsenal travel to north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday (kick-off 16:30 BST), while Leicester go to Bournemouth on the same day (19:00).