Danny Welbeck’s stoppage-time winner breaks 10-man Leicester's hearts and put Arsenal firmly in title race
Arsenal resurrect their title challenge with 2-1 Valentine’s Day victory over the Premier League leaders, who were down to 10 men for most of the second half
Substitute Danny Welbeck scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Arsenal resurrected their Premier League title challenge with a heart-stopping 2-1 Valentine’s Day victory over leaders Leicester City on Sunday.
Down to 10 men following Danny Simpson’s 54th-minute dismissal, Leicester were clinging on at a tension-bound Emirates Stadium when Welbeck headed in a 95th-minute winner from Mesut Ozil’s free kick on his return after 10 months out with a serious knee injury.
Welbeck’s goal, after fellow substitute Theo Walcott had cancelled out Jamie Vardy’s first-half penalty, saw Arsene Wenger’s men complete a league double over Leicester following their 5-2 win in September.
Leicester’s lead over the Gunners in the league has now been cut to two points.
Welbeck told Sky Sports: “[In the] dying seconds, we kept pushing, had chance after chance. I missed the first opportunity and tried to make amends.
“It is important and the most important thing is to get the win. It has been a roller coaster for me, a difficult moment and my family and friends know what I have been through.
Arsenal substitute Theo Walcott said: “This man hasn’t played for nine months and to get into the mix like that, special players come into big games. That could be massive.”
Claudio Ranieri’s men now have two weeks to regain their strength before resuming their improbable title bid at home to Norwich City, while Arsenal must prepare for contests with Hull City and Barcelona.
“The effort, energy, intensity was all good,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told BBC Sport. “Leicester defended very well but we had bad luck to be 1-0 down at half-time. We were relentless after that – we should have scored more goals.
“Mesut Ozil was fouled in the build-up to Leicester’s goal and the penalty looked very harsh. I’ll have to look again but it didn’t look like one.”
“It was a pivotal moment because the mathematics meant it could be eight points or it could be two points. That is a great change.
“There’s a long way to go, we play a lot of big teams. But we had a bad spell where we couldn’t win for four games and have now won two on the bounce. We have come out of that bad spell and still have a good chance.”
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri told Sky Sports: “It was a fantastic match, very fast. I don’t know if in a normal match that our two yellows cards was a sending off. They were normal fouls, but not yellow cards.
“I think the referee was too severe on us for the sending off. 11 v 11, I’m sure we win the match. The match was full of fouls so why send off a player? Come on.
“We know Arsenal are a fantastic team, they move the ball quickly and have skill, but we had to concentrate. We tried to counter-attack and we controlled the match very well.
“They scored with the last chance – they were smarter than us.
“We are still top of the table, we must carry on and smile. We lost to our opponents – we must say well done.”
Arsenal keeper Petr Cech said: “We had to concentrate in the final stages because any counter-attack was becoming more and more dangerous as we searched for the winner. It was tricky.
“What I like about our win is that it is always tricky when opponents are down to 10 men. They have good organisation and are fighting for their lives. We managed to break them down and create chances. We kept missing chances but kept composure and kept coming.
“We had so many half chances where we could have scored more.”
“If you have a cushion of five or eight points it is a big difference. We overturned eight points to two – it is a significant difference.”