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What we learned from Leicester City vs Arsenal

How to pull away from the pack

Leicester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Leicester City kept their winning run going after a strong second half saw them to a 2-0 triumph over Arsenal. Here are some things we can take from the performance.

1. Things are clicking on the right

Just a couple of weeks ago I was lauding the young pair dominating on the left wing. This time it was the combination of talents on the right wing who particularly stood out.

The Foxes were regularly camped in Arsenal’s half, particularly in the first 45 minutes, and the majority of their attacks came down the right hand side. The Gunners were left chasing smart passes between Ricardo Pereira, Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez, and they couldn't keep up.

In the second half, that same combo created the best chance of the game for Wilfred Ndidi. The right side domination kept up after Perez was replaced by Demarai Gray, leading quickly to the opening goal, another great chance for Vardy, and eventually the second.

It was exactly the kind of precise and quick-fire possession that can break down organised defences. If they keep this up, Jamie Vardy will continue to see good chances and, well, we know what happens then.

2. The times they are a changin’

Towards the end of the title winning season, teams got wise to our counter attacking style and sat deep, playing a defensive game. Or at least, some teams did. I never expected to see Arsenal deploy that particular game plan at the King Power.

The possession stats may have ended close, but there’s no doubt the Foxes were on the front foot. Just 20 of the game was played in our territory, compared to 37% at the visitor’s end.

I said on the bench at the start of the game to JJ, if you look at them, they’re quite deep. It’s kind of a compliment as we’ve got a team like Arsenal playing backwards. We’re a possession team, we keep the ball and keep it moving and, as I say, we had to grind them down and we did that in the end - Demarai Gray talked to about the Gunners’ respectful style

Going forward, that’s just what we’ll have to expect every week. Particularly with the run ahead of us: five straight games against bottom half teams, including 3 of the bottom four.

Fortunately, Leicester are now set up to deal with exactly that. James Maddison was able to get on the ball more than any Arsenal player, and run the game from inside their half, while the players around him were able to pick apart a defence moving backwards.

3. Dominant Wilf

Wilfred Ndidi might be is the best pure defensive midfielder in the league, at least on current form. He has been all year though, so that’s hardly a lesson from this game.

What did stand out from this one was his ability to find work without opposition attacks. He took the ball away six times, just in the attacking half. No Arsenal player managed that many in the full length of the pitch.

This aggressive defending was a big part of keeping Arsenal backed up into their own end, and was a team effort for the Foxes. Even Jonny Evans was pressing and breaking up play beyond half way.

Still, Ndidi was the most important piece of the puzzle, as ever. James Maddison described his contribution as “like having two players”. He may not know the significance of those words to Leicester fans, but the meaning is the same. Wilf is having exactly the kind of impact that Kanté used to.