Great Britain

Arsenal 0 Leicester 1: Jamie Vardy wrecks Thomas Partey’s home debut as super-sub comes off bench for late winner

THE only disappointment for Jamie Vardy was that there were not 60,000 Gooners inside the Emirates for him to cup his ear at.

The Premier League’s Golden Boot winner, and wind-up merchant supreme, loves nothing more than sticking it to the Arsenal - and this time for Leicester's first win at the north London side for 47 years.

Having turned down a move to the Gunners in the summer of 2016, Vardy returned from injury to net with a diving header as Leicester performed a glorious rope-a-dope victory to move within a point of the Premier League summit.

It was Leicester’s first victory at Arsenal since 1973 and Vardy’s 11th goal against the north London club.

Vardy had been left on the bench until in the hour as Brendan Rodgers opted to start without a recognised striker.

Yet after soaking up the pressure from Mikel Arteta’s side, they unleashed their man and won it with a classic counter attack.

Rodgers had played a similar trick on Atrteta’s master Pep Guardiola at Manchester City earlier this season and now he duped the apprentice as well.

For all the bouquets Arteta’s Arsenal have been receiving, they are struggling to make an impact in the Premier League this season - a third defeat in four matches and back-to-back blanks.

With Thomas Partey anchoring midfield and Gabriel a more dominant central defender than Arsenal have seen for some time, this is a more serious team.

Yet at the opposite end of the pitch, the goals are drying up - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now without a goal in five league matches.

Arteta can point to a questionable offside decision which denied Alex Lacazette an early opener but the scoring opportunities dried up alarmingly for the hosts.

There was a home debut and a first Arsenal league start for Partey - who promises to be the dominant holding midfield player the Gunners have locked for approximately a decade.

Partey was introduced with his own upbeat theme tune - Thomas Partey, party on - which seemed to amuse Vardy who had a dance to it during the pre-match warm-up.

And Rodgers dropped Kelechi Iheanacho, leaving the Foxes without a recognised striker in their starting line-up - Harvey Barnes operating, then James Maddison, operating as a false nine.

It was lively start - Bernd Leno careering out of his box and passing straight to Maddison, whose attempted lob from 40 yards fell wide.

Then Arsenal thought they had opened the scoring in the third minute when Alex Lacazette nodded goalwards, but two of his team-mates were offside, including Granit Xhaka, who was clearly interfering with play.

Arteta was in good voice - 90 per cent of his instructions barked out in Spanish. Rodgers, who speaks the Arsenal manager’s lingo, appeared amused by something his opposite number had said. But do Bukayo Saka or Kieran Tierney understand a word of it?

Arsenal were bossing it - David Luiz pinging it with vision, Partey an impressive sentryman - against a Leicester side content to hang back and counter-attack.

Arteta had opted for a flat back four but this did not prevent his full-backs hurtling forwards on a regular basis - Bellerin latched on to a shapely David Luiz pass but was denied by a Jonny Evans tackle.

Then Tierney whipped in a cross for Aubameyang, who couldn’t keep his header down.

Then Luiz went crossfield to Tierney who beat his man, and drilled in a cross, yet Lacazette was unable to bury a header from three yards.

Early in the second half, Luiz hobbled off and was replaced by Shkodran Mustafi - Arsenal missing the Brazilian’s range of passing.

Saka yelped when fouled by Wesley Fofana and was booked by Craig Pawson - ‘you scream and you get a yellow card’ noted Leicester’s goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell.

On the hour, it was Vardy time - last season’s Golden Boot winner on, in place as Dennis Praet, as Rodgers signalled a switch towards ambition.

Arteta soon responded by sending on Nicolas Pepe in place of Saka.

Bellerin, on a yellow, got away with a juddering late challenge on James Justin - the vegan right-back tackling the Leicester man has if he was a particularly appetising piece of tofu.

And soon after the Spaniard met an Aubameyang cross with a volley which Kasper Schmeichel pushed away impressively.

Pawson was dishing out cards like a Vegas croupier, infuriating both managers.

But then, on 80 minutes, the breakthrough - a peach of a pass from Youri Tielemans to release sub Cengiz Under, who squared for Vardy to score with a diving header.

In injury-time Vardy broke free and was denied by Leno as he attempted a chip.

But he had already done the job. How he loves to torment the Arsenal.

Watch Arsenal new-boy Thomas Partey blast out initiation song ahead of Leicester as he prepares to make full Prem debut

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