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Published: 13:26 | 14/2/16

Welbeck winner sinks Foxes

Gunners close gap to two points

Danny Welbeck’s last-gasp header secured Arsenal a potentially crucial 2-1 win over Premier League leaders Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.

Jamie Vardy gave the Foxes the lead on the stroke of half-time thanks to a controversially awarded penalty kick.

The visitors’ Danny Simpson, following fouls in quick succession on Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, was dismissed nine minutes into the second period.

Substitute Theo Walcott levelled the contest with 20 minutes of normal time remaining by finishing neatly from Olivier Giroud’s knockdown.

Welbeck, having entered the fray in the 82nd minute to make his first appearance of the season, glanced home Mesut Ozil’s free-kick deep into second-half injury time.

Leicester remain top but the Gunners are now just two points behind the shock league leaders.

Arsenal had the best of the initial exchanges at the Emirates, with Alexis Sanchez heading wide and Kasper Schmeichel racing far from his goal to frustrate Aaron Ramsey, but only a fine save from Petr Cech at the other end kept out a Vardy header from Marc Albrighton’s cross.

As the Gunners continued to threaten, Wes Morgan blocked a Sanchez effort and Giroud headed over the crossbar, before the Frenchman found the net but was correctly denied by a flag for offside.

The fantastic N'Golo Kante provided Leicester with regular respite in defensive positions, and he came close to breaking the deadlock, with Cech clawing away the midfielder’s curling attempt.

The former Chelsea goalkeeper, though, had little chance of stopping Vardy’s confident drive from the penalty spot, after the England striker appeared to have initiated contact with the outstretched leg of Nacho Monreal.

Efforts from Ozil, Ramsey and Giroud worried the Foxes during the early stages of the second period, although there was a further scare for the Gunners at the back as Mahrez went down under another poor challenge from Monreal. The contact was light, however, and Martin Atkinson chose not to award the Foxes a second spot-kick.

Following the sending off of Simpson, Arsenal effectively laid siege to the Leicester goal, equalising when Giroud nodded Hector Bellerin’s cross into the path of Walcott, who side-footed home from the corner of the six-yard box.

The Gunners were rampant, with Ramsey and Sanchez firing wide, and Per Mertesacker ought to have netted from an Ozil delivery but glanced his header outside of the post.

The Arsenal pressure continued, as Welbeck failed to make the requisite contact from six yards, Schmeichel saved superbly from Giroud, the French striker headed straight at the goalkeeper, Ramsey struck wide, and Walcott fluffed a 12-yard effort.

However, a needless foul by Marcin Wasilewski on Calum Chambers allowed Ozil the opportunity to send in a final cross, and Welbeck rose highest to break Leicester hearts.

The late goal was a huge blow to Leicester’s incredible title push, with Arsene Wenger’s men now in hot pursuit of the side that looked doomed to relegation this time last season.

By David Maher

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