By Josh James at Emirates Stadium

Summary

Danny Welbeck scored a last-minute winner as Arsenal defeated Leicester City on a dramatic afternoon at Emirates Stadium.

>Arsenal had played with an extra man since the 53rd minute, when Danny Simpson was dismissed for two bookable offences, but it looked as though they would be frustrated by the resolute City defence.

Substitute Theo Walcott had scored the equaliser with 20 minutes remaining, latching onto Olivier Giroud's knockdown.

Leicester had earlier taken the lead at the end of the first half through a Jamie Vardy penalty, though it looked as though a foul on Mesut Ozil went unpunished in the build up.

The result means the Gunners are now two points off the pace, with 12 games remaining.

Setting the Scene


Love was in the air for this midday kickoff on Valentine's Day at Emirates Stadium, but the only thing Arsenal had their heart set on was victory against the league leaders.

Five points separated the Gunners and surprise package Leicester City going into the match, and with the other two teams in the top four meeting later in the afternoon, it felt like a hugely significant day in the title race.

Arsène Wenger made two changes to the side that beat Bournemouth last weekend. Gabriel missed out with a slight hamstring injury, so Per Mertesacker returned and took the captain's armband.

Francis Coquelin also came in for his first league start since November. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain retained his place to make his 100th Premier League appearance.

There was also the welcome sight of Danny Welbeck on the bench - his first involvement for the first team since April.

Leicester's side couldn't be more settled - Claudio Ranieri named the same starting XI for the sixth consecutive game.

First half

The atmosphere was crackling at kick-off, and the Gunners responded with a fast start, creating two decent opportunities in the opening two minutes.

First Alexis Sanchez sent Oxlade-Chamberlain away on the right flank, but his low cross was turned away at the far post. From the resulting corner Alexis rose highest, but headed just wide.

It was a positive start from the hosts. They were attacking at speed, but it was the Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel who had to show his pace on 15 minutes, racing off his line to deny Aaron Ramsey, who was sent through by a Mesut Ozil pass from his own half.

Schmeichel won the sprint to the ball well outside his area, and his clearance initiated Leicester's first chance. Vardy climbed above Hector Bellerin but Petr Cech saved well low down.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was at the heart of Arsenal's most incisive moves, and he linked well with Olivier Giroud to set up a chance for Alexis – though his shot was well charged down by Wes Morgan.

Giroud did find the net with a header from an Ozil cross, but he was flagged offside.
Arsenal were looking a threat from corners too. Giroud got his head on the end of a couple of dangerous in-swingers, but couldn't make Schmeichel work.

Cech was called into action at the other though, clawing out an N'Golo Kante shot which was bound for the top corner.

As the first half drew to a close, Cech was beaten, and there was a large slice of controversy in the build up.

Ozil appeared to be fouled by Morgan on the edge of the Leicester box, but referee Martin Atkinson waved play on, allowing Leicester City to break.

Vardy worked his way into the box at the other end, and was tripped by Nacho Monreal in the box. This time Atkinson didn't hesitate to award the foul, pointing to the penalty spot.

Vardy himself stepped up and slammed his spot kick past Cech to open the scoring.
It meant Arsenal had it all to do in the second half.

Second half

Arsenal were forced into a change at half time, Calum Chambers came on to replace Laurent Koscielny, who had suffered a dead leg.

Ramsey struck a low shot wide from outside the area while Oxlade-Chamberlain's low cross eluded everyone as the Gunners set about their task with renewed purpose.

Cheered on by the Emirates crowd, Arsenal flew forward, and Giroud headed over six yards out from Monreal's cross.

The atmosphere heated up even more on 53 minutes, when Simpson was sent off for his second booking in quick succession. He brought down Giroud on the left flank, and Atkinson, in the thick of the action again, brought out the red card.

With a man advantage, Arsène Wenger sent on Walcott in place of Coquelin, shifting Oxlade-Chamberlain into the middle.

It was now a case of attack v defence, with 10-man Leciester sitting back leaving Vardy up front alone.

Arsenal made the pressure tell on 70 minutes, Walcott tucking home from Giroud's knockdown in the box.

It set up a huge last 20 minutes.

Giroud was first to try his luck, seeing an acrobatic effort blocked, then Ramsey pulled a shot wide.

Alexis got his angles wrong, flashing a shot high and wide inside the area, then scuffed a shot from Walcott's cutback.

As the frustration grew, Mertesacker couldn't get enough on his header to divert Ozil's clipped pass goalwards.

Welbeck, introduced for the final 10 minutes, also failed to make proper contact with a Giroud knockdown.

Giroud himself was then kept out by a fine Schmeichel save.

As the game entered the last of four added minutes, Arsenal were awarded a free-kick 15 yards outside the box. Ozil's delivery was perfect, and in a crowded area Welbeck rose highest to head the sweetest of winners.

Cue wild celebrations - the title race is very much on. 

Don't miss the digital match programme, packed with exclusive features and big match build up.

Arsenal

33
Cech
18
Monreal
4
Mertesacker (C)
6
Koscielny 46 Yellow Card
24
Bellerin
11
Ozil
15
Oxlade-Chamberlain 83
16
Ramsey Yellow Card
17
Alexis
34
Coquelin 61 Yellow Card
12
Giroud

Substitutes

28
Campbell
20
Flamini
13
Ospina
21
Chambers 46
23
Welbeck 83 Goal! Yellow Card
35
Elneny
14
Walcott 61 Goal!

Leicester City

1
Schmeichel
5
Morgan (C)
17
Simpson Yellow Card Red Card
28
Fuchs Yellow Card
6
Huth
14
Kante Yellow Card
11
Albrighton 82
4
Drinkwater
26
Mahrez 58
9
Vardy Goal!
20
Okazaki 61

Substitutes

30
Chilwell
27
Wasilewski 58 Yellow Card
10
King 82
12
Dyer
32
Schwarzer
23
Ulloa
22
Gray 61
Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source
14 Feb 2016