Mikel Arteta’s tinkering pays off as Leandro Trossard helps keep Arsenal’s title bid on track
Mikel Arteta has been criticised for not rotating his Arsenal side enough in their bid to win the title.
So the Spaniard will surely take some satisfaction from the fact this win over Leicester came after he caught many people by surprise with his team selection.
Arteta elected to drop Eddie Nketiah to the bench for this victory and instead he played Leandro Trossard as a false nine.
It was a bold move, not least because the diminutive Trossard (5ft 8in) was up against two huge centre-backs in Harry Souttar (6ft 6in) and Wout Faes (6ft 2in), but in the end it paid dividends.
Arsenal beat Leicester 1-0 to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points, although Manchester City could cut it to two if they beat Bournemouth later on Saturday.
The Gunners’ only goal came via good play from Trossard right at the start of the second-half. The Belgian latched onto a long ball from Gabriel and he slid in Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian, who came off the bench to score against Aston Villa last week, made no mistake as he calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
It was an excellent goal and one that summed up the lively performance from Martinelli and Trossard, who dovetailed well.
The pair regularly swapped positions and it felt more like watching an Arsenal side with Gabriel Jesus, who is still out with a knee injury.
Nketiah has performed well in the absence of Jesus, but he lacks the fluidity and movement Jesus does. Trossard was able to replicate that to some extent and Arteta will be pleased his tinkering paid off.
This was a vital win for Arsenal and they will be disappointed it was not more comfortable given they dominated possession throughout this game.
Jorginho excelled in the middle of the park, with Thomas Partey only fit enough for the bench, and his passing helped the Gunners control the game after a chaotic afternoon at Villa Park last week.
Arsenal almost took the lead in the first-half and Arteta’s frustrations with VAR will only increase after they didn’t.
Trossard thought he had scored a brilliant goal when he lashed an effort into the top corner from outside the box. VAR, however, spotted how Ben White had grabbed Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward’s arm from the corner that led to the goal.
It looked like a foul, but Arsenal’s frustration will be that later on in the opening 45 minutes they did not receive a penalty when Souttar appeared to bundle over Bukayo Saka in the box from White’s cross. This time VAR did not intervene.
In the end, it did not matter for Arsenal and their title charge is back on track after winning two games on the spin.