By Josh James at Emirates Stadium
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.
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.
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.
The atmosphere was crackling at kick-off, and the Gunners responded with a fast start, creating two decent opportunities in the opening two minutes.
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.
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.
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.
- Mertesacker (C)
- Koscielny 46 Yellow Card
- Ramsey Yellow Card
- Coquelin 61 Yellow Card
- Oxlade-Chamberlain 83
- Chambers 46
- Welbeck 83 Goal! Yellow Card
- Walcott 61 Goal!
- Simpson Yellow Card Red Card
- Fuchs Yellow Card
- Morgan (C)
- Albrighton 82
- Mahrez 58
- Kante Yellow Card
- Vardy Goal!
- Okazaki 61
- King 82
- Gray 61
- Wasilewski 58 Yellow Card