Early goals from Gabriel and Emile Smith Rowe fired Arsenal to victory over Leicester City, while Aaron Ramsdale produced another sublime performance to lift the Gunners to fifth
Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to nine games as two early goals and a breathtaking Aaron Ramsdale display secured victory at Leicester City on Saturday afternoon.
Gabriel turned in Bukayo Saka’s corner in the fifth minute before Emile Smith Rowe ghosted into the box to finish confidently and double the Gunners’ lead.
Leicester were second best by a considerable margin but improved later in the first half, with Aaron Ramsdale called into action to deny James Maddison’s free kick and Jonny Evans on the follow-up.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers responded with two substitutions and a change of formation after the interval as forwards Harvey Barnes and Ademola Lookman were introduced.
Leicester benefited from the switch to a four-man defence and left-back Luke Thomas went close to pulling one back shortly before the hour mark with a driven effort which flew just wide of the far post.
Barnes also threatened but Ramsdale proved indomitable, making a number of fantastic saves throughout the second half.
The result lifted Arsenal to fifth in the Premier League table while Leicester slipped to 10th ahead of the 3pm fixtures.
Here are five talking points from the King Power.
1. Gabriel capitalises on set-piece boost
Arsenal have made noticeable improvements in defending and attacking set pieces during the early stages of the season, so it was no surprise to see the visitors open the scoring from a corner.
Gabriel made a darting run to the near post and directed a powerful header into the far corner, showing impressive timing given he saw the ball late after Jamie Vardy’s leap ahead of him.
The Brazilian was a regular threat in the air last season, scoring three goals, and it was another impressive all-round performance alongside Benjamin White – who recovered from a bug in time for the match – in central defence.
2. Smith Rowe strikes again
Emile Smith Rowe continues to go from strength to strength and made it two goals in two games to extend Arsenal’s lead at the King Power.
Following up a man-of-the-match performance against Aston Villa, the 21-year-old arrived late in the box to curl a loose ball beyond beyond Kasper Schmeichel and take his tally for the season to four goals.
There were shades of Frank Lampard in how the Englishman anticipated where the ball could end up after good work from Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka.
This put the Gunners 2-0 up just 18 minutes into the match and it was no less than they deserved after dominating early on with all the confidence of a team unbeaten since late August.
3. Questions raised of Lax Leicester
Arsenal’s second goal came from a sloppy James Maddison pass as blue shirts surged upfield, but there was a marked lack of work rate to get back into possession as the Gunners counter-attacked.
The Foxes improved as the first half wore on and Brendan Rodgers made good substitutions at half-time, but two early goals left them facing an uphill battle they were unable to win against a stubborn Gunners outfit.
4. Ramsdale steals the show
Aaron Ramsdale’s stock is going up by the week.
The 23-year-old arrived in the Midlands having kept four clean sheets in seven games and produced a double-save up there with the best witnessed in the Premier League this season.
Ramsdale leapt to his left to tip James Maddison’s brilliant, dipping free kick onto the crossbar before denying Jonny Evans on the follow-up from point-blank range.
Then, in the second half, the England international was quickly off his line to deny Harvey Barnes in a good position – arguably the pick of his many other saves as Leicester piled pressure on their visitors.
To complement his assured shot-stopping, Ramsdale’s excellent distribution also caught the eye.
His £24million summer arrival split the Arsenal fanbase, but few are left doubting his quality just a handful of games into his Gunners career.
As an aside, Arsenal would have been disappointed to concede from the rebound, with Evans entirely uncontested as he made a beeline to get on the end of Ramsdale’s save.
5. Arsenal pairings impress
While Gabriel and Benjamin White continued their fine an understanding in central defence, there were a number of other partnerships which helped Arsenal to victory.
In midfield, Albert Sambi Lokonga was a combative presence alongside Thomas Partey, who pulled the strings from the centre of the park.
Ahead of the double-pivot, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hounded the Foxes backline and played created space for Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka to excel in wide areas.
Special mentions also go to summer arrivals Takehiro Tomiyasu and Nuno Tavares, with both full-backs adventurous going forward and positionally-sound when out of possession.
Mikel Arteta can be very pleased with the strong spine running through the team as well as the performances of those players still in the early stages of their Arsenal careers.