Belfast Telegraph

Gunners must take risks to make top four: Wenger

Arsenal 1 Leicester City 0

By Tom Allnutt

Arsene Wenger breathed a sigh of relief as Arsenal kept their Champions League qualification hopes alive with a last-gasp victory over Leicester.

The Gunners needed 86 minutes and luck to break down the resilient Foxes as an own-goal from Robert Huth snatched a 1-0 win at the Emirates.

It means Wenger's men move four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, whose next game comes against fifth-placed Manchester United tonight.

"Does it keep us in the race for the top four? Yes, we have one advantage and that is clarity," Wenger said. "We have to win our games and so that's why we cannot be happy with 0-0. We have to take the gamble to try to win the game at any cost."

Arsenal dominated Leicester throughout but they lacked a killer pass in the final third.

The winner came from an unlikely source as full-back Nacho Monreal unleashed a wayward strike, only for the ball to cannon off Huth and into his own net.

The Gunners had been stretched to extra-time in their FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City on Sunday and Wenger said the lack of recuperation time perhaps played a part.

"We lacked a bit of change of pace, penetration. You could see we had some heavy legs but we didn't give chances away," Wenger said. "Maybe we lacked speed in our game to get them out of position but they defended well, Leicester are difficult to get out of position. In the end the win rewards the team that took the initiative in the game."

Arsenal's victory, however, was blighted somewhat by a knee injury to Laurent Koscielny, who was forced to stay on for the final 10 minutes as Wenger had already used his three substitutes.

Koscielny will be assessed ahead of Sunday's crunch north London derby against Tottenham but any absence would be particularly unwelcome, given Arsenal are already without Shkodran Mustafi in central defence.

"Koscielny has a knee problem but I don't know (how serious it is)," Wenger said.

Leicester threw men forward in search of an equaliser late on and the tension almost spilled over when Christian Fuchs launched a throw-in directly at Alexis Sanchez's head.

The ball struck Sanchez on the shoulder but the striker, who had been standing in front of Fuchs, made out as though it had struck him in the face. The Chilean was given a yellow card for not being the required two metres away.

"He thought he was in the right position. After that he got a yellow card because he didn't respect the rule. I accept that," said Wenger.

Olivier Giroud also endured some special attention as Leicester's Yohan Benalouane thrust his boot into his opponent's back but only received a yellow card from referee Mike Jones.

Wenger admitted it was worth a "dark orange" but Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare saw no wrongdoing.

"I don't think it was a drop-kick," Shakespeare said. "I think a yellow was the correct call."

Belfast Telegraph


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