Weekday 26: Arsenal 2-1 Leicester 

Danny Welbeck has not played for 10 months and came on for the last 10 minutes of the game. Arsenal was tied 1-1 against Leicester. Vardy opened the score for the visitors but they visiting team was sent down to 10 men that enabled an Arsenal comeback. Walcott and Welbeck at the last minute of stoppage time 90+4 delivered the Gunners who sit two points behind Leicester for a title race, and tied with Tottenham Hotspur after their victory 2-1 at Manchester City. Here is below the coaches’ reaction:

Arsene Wenger (Arsenal coach) on the win and Welbeck’s impact:

It was happiness, because I think it was a very high level of energy in the game. We put the intensity in from the first to the last minute. It was as well a mental test for us, because to find yourself down 1-0 at half-time to a team who defends so well, you need to keep going in your head. And we came back in the second half with relentless energy. And we took as well all the risks to win it. We knew a draw was not good enough. In the end it paid off, down to the mental desire of the team to give absolutely everything to win it.

on it being a great decision…
Yes, but it was a great decision because Danny Welbeck is a great player, and you never know in our job if somebody else had come on would he have scored or not. But everybody is extremely happy for him, because he has been out for 10 months, that is an eternity for a player. We work very hard, our medical team, our fitness team, to bring him back so strong. Let’s not forget he has not played one minute for us, he has just played 45 minutes in the under-21s.

on Welbeck’s mood while injured…
You know Danny Welbeck, he is a great guy, with a great mentality. He worked extremely hard. That is why he is fit.

on the referee…
Honestly, I said we were unlucky at half-time to be 1-0 down, because I thought it was a free-kick on Ozil on the edge of the box. And I thought that was a good opportunity for us to score just before half-time. And one minute later we were 1-0 down from a penalty that for me was not obvious at all. So that was a big mental hurdle for the team, we were under shock at half-time. We didn’t see that coming, and we were eight points behind Leicester at half time. You could see today that Leicester are not in this position by coincidence. They are quality, they defend very well, they come out very quickly. But I think in the second half we had the right energy level and they never came nearly past half-way.

on what this result does for title challenge…
It will strengthen our belief that we are in the fight. We had a bit of a dodgy spell, Liverpool 3-3, Stoke 0-0, lost to Chelsea, 0-0 at home with Southampton. Now after that we won two games and we are still mathematically in the fight, that will strengthen our belief of course.

on what a loss today would have done…
A loss today would have been massive, yes. Even after that you get all the negative vibes, the belief goes down, would have been much more difficult. We would not have given up, but eight points is three games to come back. We would need to win three , they would need to lose three.

on having the momentum to win the league…
I believe that is what we want to achieve. But you have Man City, Tottenham and of course Leicester are in it, so at the moment it is very tight. What we want to do is to create a consistency to have a chance to do it. We are conscious we have some big games to come up. It is down to how much can we put that kind of energy into every game.

Claudio Ranieri (Leicester coach) reacts to the defeat:

“We tried to do our best. We lost the match but I think if we played 11 vs. 11 we could have scored also another goal. We’re disappointed because we saved two great goals with Kasper [Schmeichel] and then just with the last chance they had they scored a goal. 
“I give compliments to my players because it was the same performance as Manchester City. There we won, but today we lost. I’m happy with our performance, not with the result, but the performance was good. Of course everybody is sad but I told them from the beginning, the performance is important and the performance was outstanding.” 
“For us it’s not important now to think about whether we’re top of the league or not. We want to fight and we want to continue to show this kind of performance and at the end we’ll see where we are.”

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