By Michael Cantillon
Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott can be untouchable on the counter-attack, Hector Bellerin is one of the finest full-backs around and other things we learned from Leicester 2 Arsenal 5.
Sanchez and Walcott are a terrifying prospect
How Sanchez needed this after his slow start to the season. After going 843 Premier League minutes without a goal before today, he pilfered three goals in 80 minutes. Intriguingly, there were signs that he is developed a fruitful partnership with Theo Walcott. With the England man once again getting the nod over Olivier Giroud, the duo constantly traded short, sharp passes and looked to release each other into space at every opportunity. It worked a treat as Arsenal counter-attacked expertly, as Sanchez was once again the red-hot Chilean of last season. His first was a tap-in but the second highlighted his movement and timing, while his third was the goal of the day, taking an exquisite touch pass past N’Golo Kante before burying the ball from 25 yards out. Sanchez has looked tired of late but this should refresh one of the Premier League’s most eyecatching performers.
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Walcott is growing into spearhead role
Though he still looks far from comfortable as the point of the attack, Walcott’s pace seriously stretched and worried the Leicester defence. He played a huge part in the first two goals, calmly slotting the first in off the post with his left-foot after being played through by Santi Cazorla, and making a dangerous darting run across the front post which directly resulted in Sanchez’s tap-in. Walcott’s searing pace will give Robert Huth and Wes Morgan nightmares in the coming weeks. What Arsene Wenger loses in hold-up play and aerial prowess with Giroud on the bench, he certainly gains in sheer pace and, in open games like today, Walcott can prove devastating. He is growing into the spearhead role.
Bellerin is among the best full-backs around
The 20-year-old put in another eye-catching display and was involved in most of the stand-out moves from Wenger’s team. He provided the assist for Arsenal’s second when he slid the ball across the box for Sanchez to finish after an enterprising run and was also involved high up the pitch for Sanchez’ second. The Spaniard was actually more of a threat down the right flank than Aaron Ramsey, the man in front of him. Firmly established as Wenger’s first choice right-back, Bellerin has now become a crucial part of Arsenal’s set-up. It is surely only a matter of time before he is called up to the senior Spain team.
Leicester are fun to watch
This was Leicester’s first defeat of the season, which is admirable enough. Furthermore, under Claudio Ranieri, they are fun to watch. The Italian is giving his players licence to play with freedom and attacking verve. There have been more goals in games involving Leicester than any other side in the league this season. Between the two sides, there were over 40 attempts on goal today. Ranieri has them playing at a great tempo with Jamie Vardy tirelessly chasing lost causes, Shinji Okazaki providing a clever spark, and Riyad Mahrez twisting the blood of defenders. The question is, can they maintain their standards and energy over the course of the entire campaign?
Vardy deserves another England shot
Vardy was magnificent in the first period, playing like a man possessed and giving the runaround to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, who struggled to deal with his pace and aggression. The recently-capped England international hit the post and then put Leicester ahead, expertly bending the ball into the far corner. He then hit the bar immediately before the move which resulted in Walcott’s leveller and, had this gone in, the match could very well have gone in a different direction. Holder of two caps currently, which came in a Euro 2016 qualifier against San Marino and a 15-minute spell against the Republic of Ireland, Vardy showed today with two great finishes that he deserves to be in Roy Hodgson’s next squad.