Another away match, another loss for Arsenal. The Gunners’ Premier League away form in 2018 has been dreadful - they still haven’t earned a point away from the Emirates. The club has one more shot to get off the schneid, Sunday, May 13th at Huddersfield.
But does it really matter at this point? Arsenal have cemented sixth place and have little to play for. Arsene Wenger is resting players who are going to / competing for World Cup spots and is giving younger players a run-out. Today one of those players, Konstantinos Mavropanos, made a youthful error that cost the Gunners.
In the 15th minute, right after Arsenal went down 1-0, the young centerback bungled a clearance straight into Kelechi Iheanacho and then hauled down the Leicester man as he went to chase the loose ball. Reasonable minds could disagree on whether a red was warranted. It occurred a good distance from goal, the ball had run away from Iheanacho, and Rob Holding might have been able to run down the chance.
That said, the decision is understandable - the referee thought Iheanacho was in and the foul definitely was intentional. As he matures, Mavropanos will learn that he cannot do things that give referees the opportunity to make those judgment calls. He may also learn that it’s better to battle back from 2-0 down with 11 men than 1-0 down with 10. Most disappointing about the card is that it prematurely ends Mavropanos’ season. He’d been impressive over the past two games.
Credit to Arsenal, they fought hard and played Leicester even despite being down to 10. The Gunners drew level on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 9th goal in 12 appearances for Arsenal (to go along with 4 assists). A full season of him leading the Arsenal line is going to be fun to watch.
But once again, the Gunners were done in by silly defensive errors. Leicester’s second goal came off a poor clearance hit right to Demarai Gray and a needless challenge from Henrikh Mkhitaryan (who apart from that challenge, had a strong game). Gray was not in a dangerous position and had a defender directly between him and goal when the Armenian caught his heel on a challenge that was never going to win the ball. Gray went down, earned a penalty, and Jamie Vardy blasted it into the top corner.
Leicester added a third goal late on. Riyad Mahrez cut inside Rob Holding as he sprinted to get back on a 2-on-1 break and put the ball past Petr Čech.
And so the Arsene Wenger farewell tour sputters toward its last stop - Sunday at Huddersfield. The Terriers are guaranteed staying up, so perhaps Arsenal will be able to get an away point in 2018 and send Wenger off in style.