6 talking points as Willian and Pepe shine in Arsenal’s comeback over Leicester

Arsenal mounted an impressive fightback to come from behind to win at Leicester on Sunday.

It took just six minutes for the deadlock to be broken when some absent Arsenal defending allowed Youri Tielemans a clear path through to goal before he fired hard and low past Bernd Leno.

Arsenal were then awarded a penalty, only for the VAR to overturn the decision as Nicolas Pepe had been fouled outside the box.

But the Gunners soon managed to pull themselves back level as Willian's pinpoint free-kick was diverted home by the head of David Luiz.

And the visitors then took the lead on the stroke of half-time as a handball against Wilfred Ndidi allowed Alexandre Lacazette the chance to convert from the penalty spot.

Pepe then put Arsenal on course for victory as he started and finished a good team move shortly after the break, with Willian providing the crucial touch into his path to claim the assist.

Leicester tried in vain to get back in the game but were hindered further after losing both Harvey Barnes and Jonny Evans through injury as Arsenal controlled proceedings to see out the win.

Here are the talking points from the King Power Stadium.

1. Arteta's changes justified

Arsenal's manager caused a fright among the club's supporters with his team selection before kick-off.

Mikel Arteta made six changes to the side which beat Benfica midweek, including leaving some of his key players on the bench.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and Hector Bellerin were all among the substitutes, while the likes of Willian and Nicolas Pepe started.

It was a bold move by Arteta, considering they were up against the team third in the league, and looked to be backfiring when his team fell behind.

But his decisions were soon justified, as Pepe caused Leicester full-back Luke Thomas all manner of problems down the right and Willian set up the equaliser, before both combined for Arsenal's third.

Arteta put great faith in his fringe men against tough opposition – and this time, it paid off.

2. Welcome invite

If there's one thing you can say about Arsenal's defence, it's that they're a very generous bunch.

The Gunners were caught in possession near the halfway line, allowing Tielemans to pace away in behind Granit Xhaka towards goal.

Xhaka was always playing catch-up, and needed a helping hand from one of his teammates.

But none of them even thought to close Tielemans down, as closest man Pablo Mari was so pre-occupied with marking Jamie Vardy that he left a clear shot open to Tielemans.

It was an invite the Foxes' midfielder was all too happy to accept, as he fired low into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

Only moments later Arsenal's hospitality almost got the better of them again, as Bernd Leno very nearly gifted Jamie Vardy a goal.

There's only so much the manager can do.

3. VAR spares ref Tierney's blushes

For all its critics, VAR proved it can be a force for good in football.

Referee Paul Tierney had no hesitation pointing to the spot when Pepe tumbled into the penalty area.

Tierney seemed to think Tielemans had tripped the Arsenal winger, but the decision went to VAR as it was unclear whether contact had been made inside or outside the box.

On second viewing, it was actually Wilfred Ndidi who had clipped Pepe, and the decision was correctly changed to award a free-kick.

Later Pepe and Ndidi were at the centre of the next big call, as the former's shot struck the arm of the Foxes' midfielder.

Again Tierney had to consult VAR, eventually awarding the spot kick after a quick review of the pitchside monitor.

Given there's been a spate of recent refereeing mistakes of late, Tierney will be thankful he had technology to call on.

4. Smith Rowe limps off

One blow on an otherwise successful afternoon for Arsenal was an injury sustained by midfielder Emile Smith Rowe.

The 20-year-old has been in superb form for the Gunners, and their mini revival has largely coincided with his return to the team.

Sadly for him and Arteta, the youngster was forced to limp out of the clash after pulling up with an injury just before half-time.

It looked like Smith Rowe had some discomfort in his groin, and Arsenal will certainly be hoping it's not anything serious.

5. Willian answers Keown criticism

For all his struggles at Arsenal since his move, Willian finally produced a performance to offer his side some promise he can be a success at the club.

The Brazilian has been criticised by Martin Keown for looking like he was "mourning" his exit from Chelsea.

But Willian hit back with his display against Leicester which saw him finish the match with two assists.

With Smith Rowe potentially ruled out for a period of time, and Martin Odegaard yet to truly find his feet, Willian may well have put himself back in regular contention.

6. Barnes' England hopes in doubt

Leicester were dealt their latest injury blow as Harvey Barnes was taken off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly.

The in-form winger had his knee strapped up before being taken from the field, and could now see his hopes of earning an England call-up dashed if the injury is serious.

Brendan Rodgers was left ruing his side's luck, as Barnes joins Wesley Fofana, James Maddison, James Justin, Dennis Praet and Ayoze Perez on the sidelines, before Jonny Evans then hobbled off.

Of as much concern is perhaps the form of Jamie Vardy, who did not appear to be moving as freely as usual and has struggled for goals since his hernia operation in January.

With so many games still to play in the race for the top four, Leicester's strength in depth is about to be tested.

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