Arsenal out of top four after third straight defeat
Vardy scores double to condemn Gunners to third defeat in seven days
Jamie Vardy scored twice as Arsenal's hopes of Champions League football suffered another serious setback as familiar failings saw the 10-man Gunners lose 3-0 at Leicester City last night.
|(Youri Tielemans 59, Jamie Vardy 86, 90+5)|
It was the third time in seven days that the north London side, once renowned for an impregnable defence, had conceded three goals, following 3-2 and 3-1 defeats by Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively.
Leicester's Youri Tielemans opened the scoring at the King Power Stadium in the second half and Vardy netted twice for the Foxes after the visitors had defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles dismissed for two bookable offences before half-time.
The winning goals, however, owed little to that dismissal.
Arsenal failed to stop James Maddison's cross or mark Tielemans as he stole in to head home the first, then were embarrassingly outwitted by a goal-kick from which Vardy poached the second with the help of a rebound off the crossbar.
It left Unai Emery's men facing an uphill battle to force their way back into the top four.
Three defeats in a row have left Emery with a clear picture of the failings that linger from Arsene Wenger's reign. Arsenal had threatened from a few counter-attacks, but could not find the breakthrough.
Nine minutes before the break, the Gunners found themselves a man down when Maitland-Niles, who had already been booked for a barge on Ben Chilwell, went in late on Maddison and collected a second yellow card.
Arsenal avoided further damage in the final moments of the first half as Tielemans fed Vardy, but his shot was well saved at the near post by Bernd Leno.
Despite Arsenal's introduction of an extra defender and Leicester's of an extra forward at the interval, the opening moments of the second half brought an evenly matched contest. That was until the 59th minute, when poor defending allowed Leicester to take the lead.
Marc Albrighton and Maddison were given time to exchange passes before Maddison delivered a cross which Tielemans strolled in between Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Laurent Koscielny to head home with little resistance.
Emery was warned by referee Michael Oliver after his temper threatened to boil over as Arsenal were angered by some hefty Leicester challenges, notably when Lucas Torreira was caught by Jonny Evans' arm as the pair contested a corner.
But the game was up with four minutes remaining as Arsenal's fallible defence failed to meet a long goal-kick by Schmeichel and Vardy lobbed against the crossbar before heading in the rebound.
The final goal, with the last kick of the game, was even more embarrassing for the Gunners as they allowed Ricardo Pereira to stroll past and square for a Vardy tap-in.
Arsenal can still qualify for the Champions League if they win the Europa League and Emery said they had to shift their focus to the first leg of the semi-final on Friday morning (Singapore time) when they host Spanish side Valencia.
"We are thinking in the present and the next match is Valencia," Emery said.
"Then we think about Brighton (next Sunday) and winning." - AFP
LEICESTER: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi (Barnes 46), Albrighton (Gray 85), Tielemans, Choudhury (Mendy 79), Maddison, Vardy
ARSENAL: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan (Guendouzi 73), Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi (Koscielny 46), Aubameyang, Lacazette (Nketiah 79)
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