Under-23s manager Steve Beaglehole shuffled his pack following a 1-1 draw with Portsmouth in the Premier League Cup a fortnight ago with three changes to his starting line-up.
Following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by West Ham United over the weekend, both sides knew top spot was up for grabs and a frantic start was proof of the high stakes nature of the clash.
Goals: Leicester City U23s 3 Arsenal U23s 1
Watch all the goals as the young Foxes head to the top of PL2.
City led after just nine minutes when a Sam Hughes header fell at Gordon’s feet, but the former Stafford Rangers striker still needed to show composure to flick it into the back of the net.
At the other end, Hughes was called upon to make a goal-saving challenge to deny John-Jules before Eppiah doubled Leicester’s advantage in front of a large Whetstone crowd.
On 22 minutes, the Belgian took the ball under his control in the area, cutting it inside his man, before curling it beyond Deyan Iliev in the Gunners net with a refined finish.
While Josh Da Silva rattled the woodwork for the north Londoners before the break, it was City who were the most impressive side, both with and without the ball, during the first period.
That dominance led to a third goal on the hour-mark as Barnes latched onto an excellent pass from Eppiah to take it beyond Iliev before tucking it into the bottom corner.
Straight from the restart, the Gunners were reduced to 10 men as John-Jules was adjudged by referee Alan Dale to have impeded Barnes with excessive force in the centre circle.
As the clock ticked down, Gordon’s powerful drive rattled back off the near post but Dragomir narrowed the arrears for Arsenal with six minutes to spare with a neat finish from distance.
Gordon celebrates putting the Foxes 1-0 in front.
"It was the perfect start for Leicester and really set them up for what has been a fine performance." - Ex-City manager and LCFC TV pundit, Micky Adams.
With the reward of climbing to the summit on offer for both sides, scoring the first goal was more than a cliché as it provided a springboard for the Foxes to secure a massive victory.
It was Josh Gordon who struck his fifth goal of the campaign to send City on their way, settling any nerves his colleagues may have harboured in the early stages.
Where does it leave us?
Leicester’s Under-23s are now second in the Division 1 standings with four games to play, one less than deposed leaders Liverpool, who remain level on 33 points with the Foxes.
Despite being equal with the Reds on points and goal difference, the Foxes trail them on goals scored after Vlad Dragomir's late strike for Arsenal denied them top spot.
Eppiah showcased his ability with his strike.
City host Everton in the Premier League Cup at Holmes Park on Monday (7pm GMT kick-off) before Liverpool visit King Power Stadium for a crunch Premier League 2 clash next month.
City: Iversen, Johnson, Knight, Hughes, Wood, Choudhury (c), Dewsbury-Hall, Thomas (Wright 66), Barnes, Gordon (Ndukwu 86), Eppiah (Pascanu 90)
Subs not used: Bramley, Martis
Goals: Gordon 9, Eppiah 22, Barnes 60
Arsenal: Iliev, Osei-Tutu, Bola, Smith Rowe, Medley, Mavropanos, Fortune (Eyoma 82), Da Silva (c), John-Jules, Dragomir, Amaechi
Subs not used: Gilmour, Keto, Ballard, Daley-Campbell
Goal: Dragomir 84
Sent off: John-Jules 61
Referee: Alan Dale
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