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Early eruptions

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Inspired by Willian and Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal overcame a slow start on Sunday to clinch an impressive 3-1 victory at Leicester City that brings them back to the top half of the Premier League Arsenal seemed to be in the throes of familiar issues when their defense was easily cut by Youri Tielemans in the sixth minute, with Pablo Mari’s fear of Jamie Vardy meaning the Spaniard didn’t come blocking a low shot that flew past Bernd Leno However, the Gunners have responded impressively with Pepe and Willian finding the form that has eluded them for much of this season.

The latter helped bring Arsenal up to level with a crafty free kick led by David Luiz while Pepe played a crucial role in Arsenal’s second just before the break, his shot hitting Wilfred Ndidi’s outstretched arm for win the Gunners a penalty from Alexandre Lacazette converted

Willian and Pepe then combined for the decisive third goal with some help from substitute Martin Odegaard The Ivorian finished a flowing movement brilliantly, shooting sideways into an empty net as Willian registered his second assist to cap off a great week for Arsenal, who had made it through the knockout stages of the Europa League as Leicester fell to Slavia Prague

Kasper Schmeichel: He might be disappointed that Willian found a way around him to help with Arsenal’s third, but in truth there wasn’t much he could do about it or any of the others goals scored behind himRating: 5

Timothy Castagne: The Belgian had to pay for a little lax scoring in the penalty area when Luiz circled around a pile of bodies to lead him in the opener He looked much more comfortable on the front foot and struggled at times with the varying angles that Willian and Kieran Tierney attacked him with.Rating: 4

Caglar Soyuncu: His assertive approach to defense seemed to stifle Lacazette, but he was guilty of being dragged out of position in preparation for Arsenal’s thirdRating: 5

Jonny Evans: His exit was another blow to a struggling Leicester side, although he was not at his best today with an 80% success rate that was not at its usual level Rating: 4

Luke Thomas: Pepe was a tough opponent for the youngster but there were times he won the battle, including blocking a low shot in the first half For the most part, however, it was a grueling game for him and once it had been booked it seemed inevitable that it should be removed sooner than expectedRating: 3

Ricardo Pereira: His energetic pressing was crucial in the opener and he also doubled up to make sure Castagne didn’t get too overloaded.On a busy afternoon he then moved on to the left-back, but found the task of suppressing Pepe no easier than ThomasRating: 5

Wilfred Ndidi: Only he knows what he was thinking as he raised his arms in such an odd way to block a shot as Leicester seemed to be holding on.He did a lot of good defensive work though and led both teams into the veneeredRating: 5

Youri Tielemans: Although Arsenal offered him half King Power to attack, he still pulled off his first goal very well and appeared to be a threat to free the pace of Leicester’s frontlineRating: 6

Harvey Barnes: Leicester spent much of the first half on the back, but Barnes was still threatened with running directly and intelligently interacting with forwards His injury threatens to be a serious problem for the Foxes and maybe even England Rating: 6

Kelechi Iheanacho: He found space hard to find throughout this game and was very effectively chained by Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny whenever he fell deep A frustrating afternoon was characterized by a dismal late shot that he crashed over the bar Rating: 4

Jamie Vardy: Obviously, he was off track for this game, squeezing his groin a few times and missing the momentum boost that would usually put him aside from Mari 4

Marc Albrighton (under, Thomas, 46 ‘): His introduction immediately brought more punch to the Leicester press and he threatened with a well-hitting strike that was blocked by Vardy Rating: 6

Cengiz Under (sub, Barnes, 50 ‘): It was a brief chance for the Turkey international to show Brendan Rodgers what he was missing He failed to do in a dim display until all last minutes of the matchRating: 4

Daniel Amartey (sub, Evans, 69 ‘): By the time he entered the contest Arsenal had got what they needed in an offensive sense and there wasn’t much to do for Amartey Rating : 5

Manager – Brendan Rodgers: Could he have rotated his side a little more? There were certainly a lot of tired legs as Leicester regained a path in the game To some extent, injuries already in the squad were inevitably going to create more problems as he demanded more of what was available to him, but he will wonder if this could have been a game to start Under and Daniel Amartey. Rating: 4

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Bernd Leno: There wasn’t much I could do about the goal or Barnes’ bubbly drive that he brought to safety He looked solid under the crosses but enjoyed a quieter day than what he might have expected early onRating: 5

Cedric Soares: A day like today, he figured out that he would be as efficient as possible by throwing a fastball at Pepe and letting him do the rest He did it very effectively – he could well be a serious rival to Hector Bellerin for a role in the strongest team.Rating: 7

David Luiz: His head put the attackers to shame, wonderfully guided in the lower left corner In defense he was not wrong, winning all his duels and aerial battles Rating: 7

Pablo Mari: He may still be backing Tielemans now, such was his refusal to engage for fear of leaving Jamie Vardy unmarked, even though David Luiz appeared to be covering Leicester’s No 9 However, he deserves credit for a great response, in the second half he showed no fear of the striker as he kept pace with a late runRating: 5

Kieran Tierney: Arsenal are a different team with Tierney by their side His crossing was dangerous, his combined play with Willian incredibly effective and his ability to come back to the right places to defend extremely impressiveRating: 8

Mohamed Elneny: There are times when his reluctance to move forward makes you think he’s playing rugbyHe also did little to close Tielemans for Leicester’s opening opener, but made amends to some extent when he got into a position to block Iheanacho’s second half coupRating: 5

Granit Xhaka: He has an insightful knack for buying fouls from opponents, positioning himself in such a way that Iheanacho in particular has no choice but to slam against him Combine that with reliable and progressive passing and you get a very impressive display in a great game for Arsenal Rating: 7

Nicolas Pepe: An exceptional exit from the club’s record signing When he realized Thomas couldn’t cope, he simply refused to slow down his attack, constantly demanding the ball By the break he had 25 hits in third striker Leicester had 23 in third Arsenal His wonderfully crafted goal was no less than he deserved Rating: 9

Emile Smith Rowe: His injury outing in the first half was all the more frustrating as he had shown so many of his best qualities: playing with his teammates, keeping the attacks moving and pressing hardRating: 6

Willian: A huge step in the right direction from the Brazilian, who has a lot to do to justify Mikel Arteta’s decision to give him a three-year contract He worked perfectly with Tierney, drifting on the pitch for that his left-back was bombing, delivered a nifty cross for Luiz’s equalizer and provided the cutest assists for Pepe’s goalRating: 8

Alexandre Lacazette: Arsenal’s attacking midfielders always play better with Lacazette in the team He moves and trains the defenders with him to create angles for the others to exploit His penalty was superbly finished Note: 7

Martin Odegaard (under, Smith Rowe, 43 ‘): Another type of 10 than Smith Rowe, he’s happier passing and provided one of the best in the game, the pass to the right spot for Willian to square and Pepe at the net Rating: 7

Thomas Partey (under, Elneny, 66 ‘): The Ghanaian brought authority to the midfield that allowed him to quell any sense of pressure from Leicester Rating: 6

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (sub, Lacazette, 84 ‘): After his double on Thursday, he deserved his rest but even in a brief appearance it was encouraging to see his ability to put himself in his place and take shots Rating: 5

Manager – Mikel Arteta: He deserves a lot of credit for his judicious team rotation and in particular for his confidence in Willian at a time when Arsenal supporters have long lost patience He was rewarded today Rating: 8

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Leicester City – Arsenal

World news – FI – Leicester City-Arsenal player rankings: Nicolas Pepe and Willian inspire impressive victory for Gunners