Brendan Rodgers made 11 changes to his side, with Academy graduates Hamza Choudhury, Luke Thomas and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall – making his King Power Stadium debut – all featuring, while Daniel Amartey made his first competitive appearance for the Foxes in nearly two years having scored in pre-season on Filbert Way.
A deluge throughout the morning and afternoon cleared up by the early evening in Leicester, where City were looking to build on their impressive home battles with Arsenal in recent seasons.
Just 65 seconds into the encounter, Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho’s first-time half-volley flew wide of Bernd Leno’s left-hand post, while at the other end, Reiss Nelson struck the crossbar after a fine fingertip save from Danny Ward.
The lively start continued, with City this time seeing Arsenal stopper Leno save from Iheanacho, and Bosnia & Herzegovina defender Sead Kolašinac curling well over after he tried an ambitious effort from approximately 25 yards out.
A superb piece of centre-forward play from Iheanacho came on 24 minutes, when he chested down Ward’s long pass and teed up Demarai Gray, who cut inside from the left flank before drilling over from the edge of the box.
Arsenal appealed for a penalty shortly after when Amartey tangled with Bukayo Saka in the Leicester box, but thankfully, the Foxes were awarded a goal-kick despite protests from the visiting side.
It was Wales goalkeeper Ward who would next keep the scoreline at 0-0 after a two-handed save allowed him to parry away an effort from Saka that appeared to be bending into the bottom corner of the net, before Nelson fired wide under pressure not long after.
James Maddison then tested Leno, while King Power Stadium debutant Dewsbury-Hall drilled wide of the mark as both outfits had goalscoring opportunities in an energetic and end-to-end opening 35 minutes.
Then came City’s best chance of the first half. Neat play involving Thomas and Iheanacho eventually saw the ball fall to the feet of Maddison, whose curling strike hit the inside of Leno’s post six minutes before the interval.
As the second half began, the players were greeted to a downpour as the rain returned, and on 57 minutes the deadlock was broken. After a good save from Ward at the front stick initially denied Nicolas Pepé, the Arsenal attacker’s second attempt hit the post and struck the desperately unlucky Christian Fuchs before finding the net.
Rodgers introduced Dennis Praet – scorer of a stunner in the 4-2 win over Burnley three days prior – with just under 20 minutes to play as Maddison made way following his first start of the 2020/21 season.
A brilliant goal line clearance from skipper Wes Morgan followed as he headed away Eddie Nketiah’s lob, before Gray’s strike was swallowed up by Leno and Iheanacho nodded off target as the hosts searched for a leveller.
Dewsbury-Hall’s afternoon came to an end shortly after, and the Academy graduate was replaced by Spaniard Ayoze Pérez, who on 81 minutes headed just inches wide at the near post after connecting well with Albrighton’s delicious free-kick.
Praet tried his luck not long after, only to drag his half-volley wide after Pérez drove into the Arsenal box, but Mikel Arteta's side added to the scoreline late on after Nketiah bundled the ball home.
The opener came when the ball deflected off Christian Fuchs and beat Danny Ward.
Both City and Arsenal could have argued they deserved to win the third round cup tie on Wednesday, but it was the latter who managed to do so when Nicolas Pepé’s follow-up cannoned off the post and then hit Christian Fuchs.
The former Austria captain’s own goal and Eddie Nketiah's late effort separated the two sides on the night, but those involved, which included several of the Club’s promising youngsters, can be proud of the way they acquitted themselves against a quality outfit.
James Maddison hit the inside of the post with a fine effort during his first start of 2020/21.
Gerry Taggart, LCFC Radio’s summariser on the night, said: “Special mention to Wes Morgan, he came in and did a job, Wes, so he’s done really well. I thought Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall came in and did really well, too, but if you’re talking about a game with lots of energy with opportunities to score goals, then the one player that was always looking to create and threatened throughout, and almost scored the goal of the night, that’s James Maddison."
Wes Morgan gets up well to win a header against the Gunners on Filbert Way.
A mouth-watering Premier League fixture versus Manchester City at Etihad Stadium follows on Sunday (4:30pm kick-off) before a home clash with West Ham United follows a week later (12pm kick-off).
All times BST.
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