Arteta rev­o­lu­tion gath­ers pace as Ozil misses out again

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport / Football - By John Percy at King Power Sta­dium

It is now seven do­mes­tic cup-ties with­out de­feat for Mikel Arteta, and his rev­o­lu­tion at Arse­nal con­tin­ues to gather mo­men­tum with Me­sut Ozil nowhere to be seen.

Arteta has al­ready de­liv­ered sil­ver­ware with last sea­son’s FA Cup vic­tory and this was a promis­ing start to a com­pe­ti­tion that has proved an an­nual strug­gle for Arse­nal over the past two decades.

You have to go back to 1993 for the last time Arse­nal lifted the tro­phy in this com­pe­ti­tion, but Arteta’s new era is show­ing tan­gi­ble signs of progress, with Ozil’s ab­sence from the match-day squad again the big talk­ing point.

Ozil and Mat­teo Guen­douzi were both ex­cluded from the 18, and Arteta’s judg­ment can­not be ques­tioned on the ev­i­dence of his reign so far.

Le­ices­ter City, semi-fi­nal­ists last sea­son, were swept aside and Arteta is yet to lose a cup-tie in Eng­land since his ap­point­ment in De­cem­ber last year.

He could face a test of that record in the next round if Liver­pool can over­come Lin­coln City, but this was another pro­fes­sional, dis­ci­plined per­for­mance from an Arse­nal team brim­ming with ad­ven­ture.

There is clearly no way back for Ozil now, and the mes­sage could not be clearer un­less Arteta grabbed him by the shirt col­lar and roared in his face.

“The team is evolv­ing and it is very dif­fi­cult for some play­ers, not just Me­sut, to make the squad,” Arteta said.

“It’s dif­fi­cult for oth­ers who weren’t in­volved in the Premier League. I un­der­stand the ques­tions, but I have to do my job as straight as pos­si­ble. I se­lect the play­ers in the best con­di­tion.

“We are pick­ing the play­ers we be­lieve are the best for each game. We have a squad of 26 or 27 play­ers and we can­not give them many mo­ments.

“I’m re­ally happy with the per­for­mance, first of all with the at­ti­tude and the way we ap­proached the game men­tally.”

This was a des­per­ately dis­ap­point­ing night for Le­ices­ter man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers, who made 11 changes and re­vealed af­ter the game that in­flu­en­tial mid­fielder Wil­fred Ndidi could miss up to three months with a groin in­jury.

With funds re­stricted, Rodgers is al­ready bat­tling to sign a new cen­tre-half be­fore the trans­fer win­dow closes, so the ab­sence of Ndidi comes at a poor time.

Le­ices­ter barely trou­bled Arse­nal goal­keeper Bernd Leno, with James Mad­di­son pro­duc­ing their best chance with an au­da­cious chip which struck a post late in the first half. It was a bril­liant piece of in­di­vid­ual skill, and un­der­lined just how much Rodgers missed the at­tack­ing mid­fielder in last sea­son’s run-in.

Mad­di­son was re­turn­ing af­ter three months out with a hip in­jury but, with Jamie Vardy not in­cluded in the squad, Le­ices­ter were de­void of an at­tack­ing threat.

“If we’re go­ing to lose the game, I’d pre­fer we lost it that way,” Rodgers said. “We showed good en­ergy, we pressed well and had mo­ments of qual­ity. I thought the co­he­sion was very good. If I’m be­ing crit­i­cal, we didn’t get shots off quickly enough and didn’t com­bine well enough, but the at­ti­tude and en­ergy were good. The dis­ap­point­ment was that it was two scruffy goals.”

Arse­nal had lost on their pre­vi­ous three vis­its to the King Power Sta­dium, but con­trolled much of the game, with the front three of Reiss Nel­son, Ed­die Nke­tiah and Ni­co­las Pepe trou­bling Le­ices­ter with their move­ment and swift, in­ci­sive pass­ing.

Heavy rain was con­stant in the sec­ond half and there was a down­pour of mis­for­tune for Le­ices­ter as they con­ceded the open­ing goal in the 57th minute.

Chris­tian Fuchs mis­judged the bounce of a ball to free Bukayo Saka, who re­leased Pepe in the area. Pepe’s ini­tial cross was blocked by goal­keeper Danny Ward, but then his shot on the re­bound came back off a post and took a wicked de­flec­tion off Fuchs to fly into the un­guarded net.

It was a goal that had been com­ing, and it was the first own goal Arse­nal had ben­e­fited from since April 2019.

Le­ices­ter did have a chance to equalise in the 81st minute, ar­guably against the run of play, but sub­sti­tute Ay­oze Perez headed Marc Al­brighton’s free-kick wide of the near post.

Arse­nal com­pleted a rou­tine win in added time when Nke­tiah poked the ball past Ward, as the Le­ices­ter goal­keeper and de­fence hes­i­tated.

In cup com­pe­ti­tions, Arteta seems to have the magic touch.

Le­ices­ter City (3-4-3) Ward 5; Amartey 6, Mor­gan 6, Fuchs 5; Al­brighton 5, Choud­hury 5, Dews­bury-Hall 6 (Perez 76), Thomas 6; Gray 6, Iheana­cho 5, Mad­di­son 6 (Praet 72). Subs Jakupovic (g), Justin, Tiele­mans, Barnes, Knight.

Arse­nal (3-4-3) Leno 6; Hold­ing 6, Luiz 7, Ko­lasinac 7; Mait­land-Niles 6, Wil­lock 6 (Ce­bal­los 78), El­neny 6, Saka 6 (Bel­lerin 87); Pepe 6, Nke­tiah 6, Nel­son 7 (Wil­lian 72). Subs Ru­nars­son (g), Bel­lerin, Sal­iba, La­cazette, Xhaka. Booked El­neny.

Ref­eree Peter Bankes (Wir­ral).

Calamity: Chris­tian Fuchs looks de­jected af­ter turn­ing the ball into his own net, as Arse­nal play­ers cel­e­brate the break­through

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.