Mesut Ozil stole the show in the second half (Picture: Getty)
Resilience wasn’t a skill readily associated with Arsenal sides towards the latter end of Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club. The teams produced during the first half of his reign at the Emirates had it in abundance but it was rarely seen towards the end as the decay set in.
The signs are there now though that it is returning under Unai Emery. Returning in how the Gunners respond to setbacks, in how they deal with turning moments in matches and are able to switch momentum back in their favour.
It was there in how Arsenal made it 10 in a row in all competitions against Leicester and how they responded to such an abject first half performance with a second half display of unrelenting magnificence
Ozil played a part in all three goals (Picture: Getty)
The victory wasn’t straightforward, far from it. The Gunners were second best throughout the first half and could easily have been two or three behind at the interval. The Gunners had conceded just eight times on their nine-game winning run before tonight but Leicester were producing chances at will in the opening half an hour.
Claude Puel paired Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho up front and the duo were terrorising Arsenal’s high line with constant runs in behind. Stephan Lichtsteiner, making his full Premier League debut, was struggling with the amount of space in behind and Iheanacho saw his effort deflected over after just five minutes when he darted in behind the Swiss defender.
The Foxed had settled the quicker of the two sides and were denied a clear penalty when Rob Holding handled in the box. The defender had been carded moments earlier for a tug on Iheanacho but referee Chris Kavanagh waved play on despite furious calls from the Leicester bench. Puel’s side didn’t have to wait long for the goal their play deserved.
Chilwell, galloping forward from left-back, took a beautiful first touch past Hector Bellerin and saw his cross cannon off the Spaniard and past Bernd Leno to give Leicester the lead.
Leicester took a deserved lead when Chilwell’s effort went in off of Bellerin (Picture: Getty)
The goal, finally, sparked Arsenal into life but Leicester were as guilty of letting the Gunners back in by retreating into a defensive mode.
Mesut Ozil, returning to Emery’s starting line-up after missing the 5-1 mauling of Fulham, was wearing the captain’s armband and got the Gunners back on level terms on the stroke of half-time when he played a one-two with Bellerin and cushioned a lovely effort into the far corner of Kasper Schmeichel’s goal.
The equaliser came at a perfect moment for the Gunners and Arsenal were unrecognisable after the interval. Buoyed by his goal, Ozil took hold of the game in a fashion that we haven’t seen nearly enough in recent seasons.
The German was dropping from his No.10 role to retrieve possession and played a delightful ball in behind Chilwell and onto the on-rushing Bellerin to slide across to an unmarked Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to tap home.
Ozil could have had his second of the night but played in Aubameyang (Picture: Getty)
Aubameyang had only entered the fray moments earlier in place of Mkhitaryan but his desire to get into central positions makes him a far greater goal threat than the Armenian.
Ozil’s pass was as good as the assist but the German wasn’t finished there. The Gunners scored the goal of the season at Craven Cottage before the international break when Aaron Ramsey finished off a scintillating team move but Ozil orchestrated a contender of his own when he set-up Aubameyang’s second of the night.
The 30-year-old skipped over Bellerin’s pass and retrieved Lacazette’s return through on goal. Most were expecting Ozil to fire past the on-rushing Schmeichel but Ozil rarely does the expected and clipped a cute pass to Aubameyang to tap home. It was a move that epitomised Ozil’s performance and in a far wider sense his career as a whole.
It’s the second time in as many games that Aubameyang has emerged from the bench to score twice and it’s credit to Emery that he appears to be keeping a player of the Gabon international’s calibre happy in such a confined role.