Holders Leicester City and Runner up Arsenal both registered their first points of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign when they played out a goalless draw at the King Power Stadium on Saturday 20th August 2016. Last time when these two teams met at the very stadium they played on Saturday, it was a goal fest with the Gunners winning 5-2.
This time around, things were much different but the game did provide us its fair share of talking points. Let’s analyse some of those points which proved to be very significant for both the teams.
Koscielny Can Transform Holding
Arsenal looked lost at the back when Calum Chambers and Rob Holding were paired to deal with Liverpool in the opening weekend. The pair fared badly and their inexperience showed as they conceded 4 goals at home. After the game, many people doubted that Holding would be able to play as a central defender for Arsenal anytime soon for he is clearly not ready to do so.
Last night, with the return of the Gunners defensive ace Laurent Koscielny, things improved instantaneously for the visitors in the heart of their defence. Koscielny not only stood out with his brilliance for the whole 90 minutes, he also showed that how the presence of an established defensive partner can transform a player and bring the best out of him too. Holding, in fact, was excellent in his position, dealing expertly with the likes of Vardy and Okazaki whenever needed, making 9 clearances in total alongside winning 5 of his 7 attempted aerial duels.
It was a real occasion where the Arsenal fans got a glimpse of the talent and potential of their young defensive signing and he will get better with age and by playing more and more with Koscielny by his side.
Nampalys Mendy Is An Excellent Replacement For Kanté
With N’Golo Kanté leaving for Chelsea in the summer, many feared that the French sensation would leave a gap too big to fill for Ranieri this season but new acquisition Nampalys Mendy, who is also French by the way looks to be the player perfectly capable of replacing his countryman. Against Arsenal, Mendy was excellent with his passing attaining 100% accuracy and showed great intelligence to take some wonderful positions in the defensive regions.
Defensively, it seems that Mendy can provide the cover needed to his backline against the top teams, it remains to be seen how he can assist the team in the attacking phases with his passing and midfield drive something which Kanté used to do brilliantly for the Foxes.
Mark Clattenburg’s Leniency Towards Arsenal
As an Arsenal fan, nobody knows the disappointments of being on the end of wrong decisions time and again in the crucial moments, better, with the Gunners having suffered a lot from dodgy decisions going against them in the past. Saturday was a day where it has to be accepted that Arsenal were very lucky and should thank mark Clattenburg for being too lenient at times with his decisions.
There were two penalty appeals where in both cases it seemed like the Arsenal defender fouled a Leicester player inside the box but the referee didn’t blow his whistle to point to the spot much to the relief of the away supporters and anger of the home crowd. Also, it was really surprising to see Francis Coquelin stay on the pitch after being cautioned in the 22nd minute. The French defensive midfielder made a lot of reckless challenges post his caution and could have very easily been sent off for a second yellow but somehow Mark Clattenburg decided to keep his cards in his pocket and helped Arsenal finish the game with 11 men on the pitch.