Leicester City’s Leonardo Ulloa Rescues A Point Against Arsenal

in Sports

IT was a performance that did nothing for Arsène Wenger’s dubious claim that Arsenal are well-stocked in the striker department and under no pressure to bring in a replacement for the injured Olivier Giroud before the transfer window shutters come down. Yaya Sanogo was given the job of leading the line but was withdrawn 13 minutes from time, still without a goal in 17 Arsenal appearances and, on this evidence, well short of being the centre-forward his club need.

With the game deep into time added on the Arsenal supporters offered their own damning judgment on what they had witnessed on an afternoon when Leicester played with tremendous energy and thoroughly deserved a point. “Sign a fucking striker” reverberated from the travelling fans.

Bathed in sunshine, the mood of the Arsenal faithful was darkened by the absence of a cutting edge as Wenger’s side registered 24 attempts at goal – more than in any game last season – but only six were on target.

Wenger introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski – one of the other forwards at his service – late on but his team had run out of ideas by that stage and the Arsenal manager was honest enough to admit to being genuinely concerned that Leicester, who looked dangerous on the counter-attack, may go on and pinch a winner. Jamie Vardy nearly did with just seven minutes remaining, when the Leicester substitute broke free only to be denied by a full-stretch save from Wojciech Szczesny.

Asked about what the Arsenal fans were singing, Wenger replied: “Every solution every time you don’t win a game is to buy somebody anyway. We try our best and you have to trust us to find the best possible solution, but as well not to every time you don’t win think that it’s a miracle-man who wins you a game. Why did Man City not win yesterday against Stoke? They have plenty of strikers.”

There was, however, no escaping the fact that Sanogo looked like a man short of confidence and nowhere near ready to be the frontline striker for a club of Arsenal’s stature.

Sanogo had a less-than-convincing hand in the opener, when Kasper Schmeichel deflected the forward’s poor attempt to lob him into the path of Alexis Sánchez, who swept home his first Premier League goal. It was symptomatic of Sanogo’s contribution. A one-on-one chance in the second half, after a fine run from Nacho Monreal on the Arsenal left, was also passed up.

Wenger admitted Sanogo’s goal drought is now an issue. “You have been 21 and you start playing football and if you play up front and you don’t score it’s very quickly a problem,” he said.

“I don’t think that problem will last very long. But at the moment, yes, when you have a chance to play for Arsenal as a centre-forward and you don’t score, it’s a problem for you.

“He did find it very hard today. You can say he didn’t score, yes. Is it on his mind? Of course, because he’s a striker and he scored always many goals as a young player.”

Sanogo, in fairness, was not the only Arsenal player that struggled on a day when Mesut Özil was anonymous. It was also a clear mistake to allow Laurent Koscielny to return to the pitch after he had required lengthy treatment following a clash of heads with Jeff Schlupp.

When Schlupp broke away on the left, following a neat exchange with David Nugent, and delivered a superb centre towards the back post, Koscielny was caught ball-watching, unaware of Leonardo Ulloa, whose powerful header sailed into the far corner to quickly level the scores. Four minutes later Koscielny was withdrawn and replaced by Calum Chambers.

“I think if he wasn’t injured we would not have conceded the goal,” Wenger said. “I had been told it was nothing serious and he could come back after two minutes with two clips on his head. That was a medical opinion. After that [Koscielny] asked to come off because he continued to bleed a little bit and he didn’t feel comfortable moving.”

Although Wenger bemoaned the lack of sharpness and creativity in his team, the Arsenal manager was quick to praise Leicester’s spirited performance. Nigel Pearson’s side worked tirelessly to make life uncomfortable for Arsenal but they also played with courage and were prepared to commit players forward.

With two points from three tough opening fixtures, against Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal, Pearson is entitled to be pleased with the way that his players have acquitted themselves so far.

Leicester may have had even more to show for their efforts here but Ulloa, set up by the lively Riyad Mahrez, could only find the side netting after sitting Chambers on his backside early in the second half.

At the other end of the pitch Aaron Ramsey headed tamely into the hands of Schmeichel after Santi Cazorla’s wonderful pitching wedge of a pass – the Spaniard delivered a similar ball in the lead up to Sánchez’s goal – and Sanogo shot straight at the Leicester keeper.

It was that sort of day for Arsenal. – The Guardian