Date: 14th February 2016 at 3:00pm
Written by:

I think it`s high time that watching Arsenal came with a “hazardous to health” warning, because I was about as close to a heart attack as I`ve ever been today, but this is why we love football isn`t it?

Sort of.

A loss today would have made it incredibly hard for Arsenal to win the league, a draw wouldn`t have been the worst but not really what we needed, a win would reel Leicester right in to within touching distance.

A win in the manner in which it came is a huge boost for the Gunners and a crushing blow for Leicester who now have 2 weeks to stew on that defeat not to mention a suspension to Danny Simpson and possibly one for Danny Drinkwater too, but more on that later.

It was a game of huge excitement, controversy and pressure, it was enthralling from start to finish, however it didn`t start so well.

The Gunners, it`s fair to say, didn`t play well in the first half, however we most certainly didn`t deserve to go in 1-0 down at half time. Arsenal were denied a couple of penalty shouts, one for handball which would have been harsh (though considering Sanchez was punished for the same handball later in the half it would have been fair) and one undisputable one after Giroud clearly had his shirt pulled in the box.

The real controversy was to come late in the first half as Wes Morgan charged straight through Giroud to “win” a header and set The Foxes on the counter. It was a blatant a foul as you could see and Martin Atkinson had a great view but let play continue.

The controversy wasn`t finished yet though, oh no.

Laurent Koscielny mowed straight through Kante for which he rightly earned a yellow card, but the ref played advantage as the ball rolled through to Jamie Vardy.

Let me start by saying that what followed was not great defending by Nacho Monreal, however poor defending does not mean it`s a penalty, and after the Spaniard made a poor effort at a tackle (which missed completely) he stood still with both feet planted on the floor. Jamie Vardy took the invitation to jump into Monreal and was awarded a spot kick.

Many arguments have been made that “no rule says that Vardy had to get out of the way” and I suppose that`s true, but neither is there a rule that says a free kick is awarded for a player running directly into another.

Vardy, of course, smashed the ball home and boos rang out around the Grove as the HT whistle sounded shortly after.

But what the incompetent referee giveth, the incompetent referee taketh away.

Taking into account Martin Atkinson didn`t even award a freekick for Wes Morgan`s flight of fancy in the first half he then went and produced a second yellow for the slightly of contacts on Giroud with half an hour still to play.

Our general creative play today was good but the finishing left a lot to be desired, two of our best players in Sanchez and Ozil in particular had an off day. However what we lacked in finishing we made up for in effort and desire.

Wenger looked to the substitutes bench with Leicester a man down and brought on the out of form Theo Walcott. It looked as though his time on the bench had given him some focus as Theo looked immediately dangerous. Shortly after Feo brought the scores level after a wonderful knock down from Giroud left Walcott the chance to smash it home. He didn`t disappoint.

After the ref had given and taken from Leicester, he gave them a little bit more by refusing to give Arsenal a freekick and Danny Drinkwater a straight red card for a disgraceful tackle that caught Ramsey halfway between knee and ankle. Having not blown up one can only assume that he didn`t see the tackle (despite it taking place directly in front of him) meaning the FA should be issuing a retrospective red card for Drinkwater.

The Gunners didn`t give up however and with the clock rapidly ticking down Wenger looked to his bench again after his previously successful substitution and brought on Danny Welbeck for his first start of the season. And what a decision that turned out to be.

With literally seconds remaining The Foxes`s Wasilewski inexplicably charged out of defence and ploughed straight through Nacho Monreal (which really could have been another red) to gift Arsenal a free kick.

Mesut Ozil proved that world class players can have world class moments even when they`re not playing well by producing a sumptuous cross for Danny “f&%^ing” Welbeck to nudge home sending The Grove mental.

It was a massive result, a massive three points and a result that gives us a real shot the title. It wasn`t the most convincing of performances but it was a performance of guts and determination.

Not to mention a couple of slick subs by the boss.


Join The Vital Debate