BY MAURICIO RICH
This weekend’s most important English Premier League fixture was Arsenal defeating first-place Leicester City 2-1. Played in the Emirates, Arsenal fans were satisfied with a last-minute goal by the English Danny Welbeck. This final result has shaken up and modified the standings in the Premier League.
The scoring of the match began in the 45th minute due to defender Nacho Monreal conceding a penalty after stumbling upon Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy inside the box. Vardy has drawn more penalties this year (six) than any other team in the Premier League. The penalty was fired into the bottom right corner and, with this goal, Vardy rectified that he is the best striker in the league with 19 goals this season.
With a one-goal difference, Arsenal needed a comeback. The first step for this comeback came in the 54th minute when Leicester City defender Danny Simpson was sent off after the accumulation of his second yellow card. Now with only 10 men, Leicester City had to hold off Arsenal for the remaining 30 minutes.
The equalizer came in the 70th minute when Arsenal winger Theo Walcott found the back of the net after a tight and long series of passes.
With the game tied and a man down, Leicester City began to defend more than attack as Arsenal generated a wave of opportunities to score. With time winding down and fans sitting on the edge of their seat, Arsenal found the net again. This time it was super-sub Danny Welbeck in the 95th minute of stoppage time.
In his first appearance of the season after an injury, Welbeck connected a powerful header with a Mezut Ozil cross to score the last-chance goal. With the Emirates in an uproar of excitement, the referee blew the final whistle, ending the game and giving Arsenal three vital points in the league standings.
This was the first 2016 loss for Leicester City in Premier League fixtures. Now, Arsenal and Tottenham are two points behind Leicester in the standings with 12 games left in the season.
The attention will be on Welbeck. However, the key player was midfielder Ozil, who provided the assistance for Welbeck to score the final goal of the game. The German World-Cup winner now leads the league with 17 assists. Ozil is excelling at creating chances and coordinating the team on the field.
Vardy impressed in the losing effort, but was ultimately made a non-factor after his team went down to 10 men. The red card heavily affected the performance of this team along with an additional three yellow cards in the game. After this result, Arsenal has defeated Leicester City in both legs this season.
“It was a great feeling to celebrate a goal in the last minute. I am very emotional with soccer,” said Arsenal fan and sophomore Angelo Nicolaci.
“I am very disappointed with the result. We deserved more, but the season is long and we still are in the first place of the table,” said Leicester City fan and freshman Omar Lopez.
“We will win the Premier League. I have absolutely no doubt. The team has good players and they are working hard for the title race,” said Arsenal fan and freshman Victor Gomez.
“Leicester City was at the bottom of the table last season. They are now on top of the table. I really respect that,” said Arsenal and freshman Jhonny Urai.
This is Arsenal’s seventh victory after 10 home games, making the Emirates one of the toughest stadiums for opponents this year. This will be put to the test as Arsenal host Hull City in the FA Cup this Saturday and Barcelona in the UEFA Champion’s League on Feb. 27.