Leicester Show Fight to Give Pearson Boost

Published: 11th February 2015 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th February 2015 08:55 AM   |  A+A-


Leicester City's Thai owners may be undecided over whether Nigel Pearson has a long-term future at the club, but the club's players produced a performance against Arsenal that suggested they remain fully behind their manager.

Despite suffering another defeat that keeps them rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, Leicester gave Arsenal an almighty second-half scare.

Two days after he was sacked and then reinstated, Pearson will have taken plenty of encouragement from the way his team responded to going two goals down at the Emirates. They deserved at least a draw.

Following his grapple with Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur at the weekend, Pearson took the wise decision to start last night's game in the stands. Had he been on the touchline, then Pearson may well have reached out to give Wes Morgan and Jeff Schlupp a good shake for making decisive errors that undermined what had otherwise been a good first half for Leicester.

Morgan lost Laurent Koscielny at a corner, allowing the defender to open the scoring for Arsenal, then Schlupp was at fault for the home side's second goal that was eventually scored by Theo Walcott.

Pearson had nearly been lifted from his seat in just the 13th minute, as Leicester went within inches of taking a shock lead. Esteban Cambiasso produced a wonderfully weighted pass that set Riyad Mahrez away on the left and the winger's low shot went through the legs of goalkeeper David Ospina, but went just wide.

Pearson handed debuts to Robert Huth and Matthew Upson in a five-man defence, and the pair had goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to thank for keeping the scores level.

Mesut Ozil played in Walcott, who replaced Danny Welbeck in Arsenal's starting line-up, but Schwarzer was off his line quickly to stop the shot with his chest.

Leicester looked nervous every time Ozil got the ball and the German played a significant part in Arsenal opening the scoring after 27 minutes. He rolled a foot over the ball that allowed him to fire in a shot that Schwarzer saved. Ozil took the resulting corner himself and Koscielny lost Morgan to side-foot the home team ahead.

Leicester players and staff were upset that an apparent foul by Alexis Sanchez on Paul Konchesky went unpunished as the ball made its way to Koscielny.

Pearson would have been largely satisfied with the way his team had played, but a silly error from Schlupp resulted in Arsenal doubling their advantage three minutes before the half-time break.

The Ghana international tried to dribble past Hector Bellerin in his own half, but the right-back tackled him and Arsenal worked the ball over to Ozil. His long-range shot was parried by Schwarzer and Walcott fired the loose ball into the net.

Arsenal's second goal prompted Pearson to makes his way down from the stands to try to inspire an unlikely comeback with his half-time team talk.

The majority of the Emirates crowd were loudly appealing for a penalty barely a minute after the restart when an attempted pass from Sanchez appeared to strike the hand of Danny Simpson but referee Mike Jones allowed play to continue and Tomas Rosicky fired a fierce drive wide.

Pearson was back on the bench for the second half and watched his team continue to attempt to create chances when they had the ball.

Upson's Leicester debut ended in the 59th minute, as the Arsenal old boy was forced to go off with an injury and was replaced by Marcin Wasilewski.

Leicester's record pounds 9.7?million signing, Andrej Kramaric, had been quiet in the first half, but looked far livelier after the break. Having seen Ospina save two of his shots, the Croatia international pulled his side back into the game with his first goal for the club.

Arsenal's defending was woeful, as they first failed to properly clear a corner and did not deal with Mahrez's ball back into the box. Kramaric, though, gave Ospina no chance with a superb shot from 12 yards.

Sanchez had been less effective than normal on his return from injury and was replaced by the more conventional out-and-out striker Olivier Giroud as Arsenal attempted to regain control of the game.

Francis Coquelin has been one of the standout performers for Arsenal in recent weeks, but he was suffering a torrid evening and gave Mahrez a great chance to equalise but the Algeria international narrowly missed the target.

Kramaric was just as guilty with 11 minute remaining, as he did not get enough lift on the ball to lob Ospina after being found in space. Arsenal hung on. Just.

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