Jamie Vardy

Vardy Strikes To Earn Point At Arsenal

Jamie Vardy’s 22nd goal of the 2019/20 Premier League season earned Leicester City a 1-1 draw against 10-man Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
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Defender Ryan Bennett was handed a first Premier League start after his impressive second-half performance against Crystal Palace last time out, while both Ben Chilwell and James Maddison, as expected, missed out due to injury.

Manager Brendan Rodgers, who saw his side beat the Gunners 2-0 back in November, deployed the same 3-4-1-2 formation that proved to be successful against the Eagles last time out, with injured Chilwell the only change in personnel.

A strike on nine minutes saw Vardy attempt to add to his fine goalscoring record against Arsenal, but Emiliano Martínez was able to make a routine save after the ball skipped across the wet Emirates Stadium turf and into his arms.

Martínez was called into action again three minutes later, after a well-worked corner found its way to Nigeria international striker Kelechi Iheanacho, whose low effort was saved by the feet of the hosts’ stopper.

A series of blocks, including ones from Çağlar Söyüncü and Jonny Evans, followed, as City absorbed some Arsenal pressure, before Kasper Schmeichel did well to hold onto Kieran Tierney’s long-range half-volley.

However, a neat piece of play from Bukayo Saka shortly after created the opener for Mikel Arteta’s side, who went ahead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 20th Premier League goal of the 2019/20 campaign.

Söyüncü was there again on 26 minutes to prevent the two Arsenal attackers from combining for a second time in quick succession, blocking a dangerous cross from Aubameyang into Saka.

Another trio of saves from Schmeichel, as he first denied Saka, then got down superbly to prevent Alexandre Lacazette from doubling the advantage, while the Dane was on hand again moments later to tip over from right-back Héctor Bellerín.

City thought they had levelled matters when Iheanacho converted Vardy’s pin-point delivery from the left wing, only for his goal to be chalked off for a foul in the build-up.

Lacazette had another opportunity with six minutes of the first half to play, and Schmeichel was there again to hold onto the France international’s header as half-time approached.

A final chance of the opening 45 minutes presented itself to right-back James Justin in first-half stoppage time, but his header, into the ground, flew wide of the mark.

First Team

Jamie Vardy vs. Arsenal

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy nets his 22nd goal of the 2019/20 season in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

Justin carried his attacking intent into the second period, when he burst into the box and connected with a Vardy pass, only to have his effort blocked by Brazil centre-back David Luiz.

Schmeichel, alert as ever, then had to turn Luiz’s free-kick around the post at the other end of the pitch, before Ayoze Pérez threw himself in the way of loanee Dani Ceballos’ effort from distance.

Leicester continued their search for an equaliser, with Vardy lifting a fine pass into Iheanacho, whose powerful volley was well saved by Martínez with 55 minutes on the clock.

A change in system followed for City just before the hour mark, with Harvey Barnes – who set up both of Vardy’s goals after coming off the bench against Palace – and Christian Fuchs being introduced in place of Iheanacho and Marc Albrighton.

Barnes was involved immediately after being afforded plenty of space on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target, while Luiz got in the way of a Wilfred Ndidi drive on 63 minutes.

Vardy then miscued from deep inside the Arsenal area while under pressure from Shkodran Mustafi, while a poacher’s goal from Lacazette was rightly disallowed – and confirmed so by VAR – just moments before the second drinks break of the match.

VAR played a role again with 15 minutes to play, with substitute Eddie Nketiah – on the pitch for just five minutes – having his yellow card switched to a red after being deemed of serious foul play for a high challenge on Justin.

During the pause in play, Demarai Gray replaced Bennett and Dennis Praet later came on for Ndidi as Rodgers’ side searched for an equaliser in the closing stages at Emirates Stadium.

The Northern Irishman’s attacking move paid dividends, with Vardy – after a lengthy VAR check for offside – slotting in Gray’s delivery six minutes from time for his 22nd Premier League goal of the 2019/20 season.

A final opportunity of the game fell to substitute Praet in the eighth minute of injury time, with Gray again the provider, but the Belgium international lifted his effort over after City had to settle for a point.

Major moment

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

Vardy wheels away in celebration after levelling the scoreline at Arsenal.

Having soaked up a lot of Arsenal pressure in the first half, the Foxes went in search of a leveller after the break, and when Eddie Nketiah was dismissed for serious foul play, they had a huge chance to claim something from the game.

They seized that opportunity, and after Demarai Gray was introduced following Nketiah’s red card, it took the winger just nine minutes to set up the equaliser, which came courtesy of Jamie Vardy.

Who impressed?

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Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel

The Dane saves from Bukayo Saka at Emirates Stadium.

Dean Hammond, commentating on the game for LCFC Radio, said: “There were some good performances out there tonight, but Kasper Schmeichel was absolute brilliant. He had to make four or five great saves – point-blank saves. Getting the captaincy has really changed his game, and he’s one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. He had an exceptional performance tonight.”

Where do we stand?

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

The Foxes forward celebrates his 102nd Premier League goal.

Following Chelsea’s 3-2 win at Crystal Palace earlier in the evening, City now sit fourth in the Premier League with four matches to play. They have collected 59 points from 34 games, and are four points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.

Coming up…

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Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

City’s next Premier League challenge arrives in the form of a trip to Vitality Stadium on Sunday to face AFC Bournemouth (7pm kick-off), before facing Sheffield United at King Power Stadium four days later (6pm kick-off).

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