Arsenal 2-1 Leicester
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger toasted an 11th-hour decision to include fit-again Danny Welbeck after the striker climbed off the bench to head a stoppage-time winner against title rivals Leicester on Sunday.
Welbeck marked his first appearance following a 10-month injury lay-off with his first Premier League goal since December 2014 after fellow sub Theo Walcott had levelled against the depleted visitors.
Leicester, who led through top scorer Jamie Vardy’s first-half penalty before having defender Danny Simpson sent off, remain top, but third-place Arsenal are now just two points behind.
Wenger admitted that he had not planned to recall Welbeck until next week but was swayed by the former Manchester United player’s performances in training on Friday and Saturday.
“It was a great decision because Danny Welbeck is a great player,” he said. “Everyone is extremely happy for him because he has been out for 10 months – that is an eternity for a player – and we worked very hard, our medical team, our fitness team, to bring him back.
“It will strengthen our belief that we are in the fight. We had a bit of a dodgy spell, so now we win two games and we are still mathematically in the fight. A loss today have been massive. We would not have given up but eight points is three games.”
Arsenal could have scored in the first minute had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot instead of crossing but the Foxes offered a reminder of their threat on the counter when Vardy’s header forced a save from Petr Cech.
It was another trademark lightning break that earned Leicester the half-time lead. Vardy tempted Nacho Monreal into an unwise challenge and sent Cech the wrong way from the penalty spot for his 19th league goal of the season.
Hopes of a first Leicester league win over Arsenal since 1994 began to fade when Simpson was dismissed for a second booking that condemned the visitors to playing the last 35 minutes with 10 men.
It took until the 70th minute for Walcott to equalised by side-footing past Schmeichel from Giroud’s deft header, before Welbeck glanced Mesut Ozil’s free-kick into the far corner in the dying seconds.