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Leicester City 0 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger Faces More Calls To Spend On New Players


It ended, like so many games for Arsenal at the end of a summer transfer window, with the club’s supporters calling upon Arsène Wenger, in no uncertain terms, to spend the transfer money that they hope might turn their side into credible title contenders.

At the end, as the stands cleared, there were scuffles between the away fans and those in the home seats, before they were separated by the stewards, but most of all this was about the unhappiness that is brewing at Arsenal at another low-key transfer window.

Jamie Vardy spent the game trying to score the goal that would finally settle the argument that he did the right thing in not joining Arsenal, while the away fans grew significantly unhappier.
By the end of the game they were calling on Wenger to “spend some f—— money” and they sang it over and over again in case he was under any illusion as to the point being made, from a group of supporters who seem more unhappy than ever.

Last season it was Arsenal who beat Leicester home and away when Claudio Ranieri’s team scored that improbable Premier League title, and this time Wenger’s team have started the new campaign with one point from their first two games and a palpable discontent in the stands. It was Ranieri’s team who might have won this game at the close, and it is Wenger who feels the pressure.

For Ranieri there were frustrations as well, including two penalty appeals which were both turned down by referee Mark Clattenburg, the second of which on substitute Ahmed Musa by Héctor Bellerín looked credible. For Leicester, who also have just one point from their first two games, there will be regrets but the glow of last season will last for some time yet.

For all the usual hard-running of Vardy this was one of those days when not even last season’s top goalscorer could force the issue. He missed with his best chance in the second half, and in the closing stages, Petr Cech was the equal of Riyad Mahrez, another man who might have signed for Arsenal this summer but elected to stay at Leicester instead.

The first home game of the champions’ defence was, all told, at times very low on quality, with possession squandered again and again. Both sides played it at the kind of blistering pace that gave it the atmosphere of a cup tie from the very start, but a cup tie in which neither team had the finesse to finish off the other.

The home fans made mileage of Vardy and Mahrez’s decision to remain at the title-winners rather than up sticks to the Emirates, and there will likely be more of that to come. While Mahrez was outstanding at times, however, he could not force the breakthrough and Vardy missed with a right-foot shot when Marc Albrighton robbed Laurent Koscielny and put the striker in.

Ordinarily for Arsenal a point away at the champions would have been no bad result, and there were times when they might even have won the game in the last 10 minutes. The return of Koscielny as centre-back and captain had a transformative effect on Wenger’s defence and the Frenchman partnered the 20-year-old Rob Holding who was preferred to Calum Chambers at centre-back.

Holding looks like a prospect, and the steady judgment of Koscielny alongside him will only be a benefit to the young Englishman. For the benefit of the England team, one can only hope that the tumult of playing for Arsenal in these turbulent times does not do for his confidence.

Vardy was out to do the kind of damage he can inflict on a defence, one of those furious chasing displays when he seems to cover the ground to reach a defender in the time it takes for the poor soul to look up. At one point in the first half Mahrez Cruyff-turned the life out of Bellerín.

It was a ropy old first half, with the ball in the air a lot in the windy conditions and not much finesse from the league that likes to think of itself as the greatest in the world. Then there was a moment near the end of the first half when the game might have turned.

A sharp throughball from Mahrez put Vardy in on goal where Cech was quick enough off his line to push it away. Possession fell to Danny Drinkwater who tangled with Koscielny. It looked clear enough as a penalty but Clattenburg was unconvinced. Vardy tried to cut the ball back but there was no one waiting in the area.

It took a few replays to unpick but Clattenburg looked to have called it right, with no contact between Koscielny and the Leicester midfielder, and the referee had the endorsement of his former select group peer Howard Webb from the BT Sport studio.

In the closing stages, Theo Walcott had an attempt at goal which Wes Morgan did well to get a foot on. There was the Vardy chance and Musa’s appeal for a penalty that was not given. In the end the brilliant Mahrez tried to decide it on his own by drifting through the Arsenal defence and shooting at goal. Cech was the equal of that attempt but it will take rather more than this to pacify an unhappy Arsenal support.

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