Ever since he has realised his dream of playing in the Premier League, Jamie Vardy has tormented Arsenal and, once again, he was key to their downfall.
Despite being restricted to just half an hour off the bench due to a calf problem, the 33-year-old came on to score the game’s only goal and his 11th Premier League one against Arsenal in 12 appearances. Incredibly, only Wayne Rooney, with 12, has more.
“That is why he is a big player, he makes the big contributions in the big games, that shows you the level he is at — and he is a world-class player,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. “I am lucky to have him here.”
Whether you believe Vardy is world-class or not, there is no denying he has Arsenal’s number — and with each goal he scores against the Gunners, it is impossible to not think back to 2016.
The striker was close to moving to north London back then, but he ended up staying at Leicester — and he’s been a thorn in Arsenal’s side ever since.
Last night, he had just 11 touches off the bench, which included a great chance late on to make it 2-0, but Vardy transformed Leicester’s attack when he came on. His pressing is relentless, but so, too, is his predatory instinct in front of goal. He needed just one chance to break the deadlock and end the Foxes’ run of 262 Premier League minutes without a goal.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said: “They just need a moment to catch you on the break or with some space — and we made the decision when there is no pressure on the ball to try to attack that space and they scored a good goal.
“After, it was difficult in the last 15 minutes, even with three strikers on the pitch, we didn’t manage to have enough continuity in our play and we gave too many free-kicks away, we didn’t put the ball as often as we could in the box.”
Vardy’s cameo highlighted Arsenal’s attacking bluntness and made this story even more familiar than it already was.
After putting three past Fulham on the opening day, the Gunners have failed to score more than twice in a match this season and their attack is yet to click into gear.
Last night was no different and Alexandre Lacazette, who admittedly had a good header ruled out for offside in the first half, was the guiltiest culprit, as he squandered a chance from two yards. He was not the only one at fault, though, with Bukayo Saka, Hector Bellerin and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also fluffing their lines.
The spotlight has been on Lacazette, but Aubameyang has now gone five League matches without a goal for the first time since 2014 and his sparkling form of last season has evaporated. Last night, he was deployed on the right, instead of the left, but the calls for him to play through the middle will grow now.
Whatever he decides to do, Arteta needs to find a way to get Arsenal’s attack firing. The Spaniard deserves immense credit for turning the Gunners into a solid side, but now that base has been established it is time for the shackles to be loosened.