Leicester City 0 – 1 Arsenal
Gabriel Martinelli’s goal was enough to extend Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought win at Leicester City.
The Brazilian struck in the first minute of the second half, latching on to a deft pass from Leandro Trossard to roll his shot past Danny Ward.
Trossard had a fine first-half goal disallowed after Arsenal’s Ben White held Ward in the build-up.
Arsenal lead Manchester City by five points before Pep Guardiola’s side face Bournemouth in Saturday’s 17:30 GMT kick-off.
Leicester, who remain 14th, were lacklustre although Kelechi Iheanacho had a goal flagged for offside shortly after Trossard’s disallowed effort and Anthony Dewsbury-Hall curled a shot just wide in the second half.
Arsenal’s quest for a first league title since 2003-04 appeared to be faltering when they lost 3-1 to City on 15 February, but they have bounced back with a maximum return of six points from two testing away trips.
Gunners struggle for fluency but do enough
Arsenal’s recent league wobble, which saw Arteta’s side drop seven points from a possible nine, may be behind them but they struggled to hit their fluent best at King Power Stadium.
Mikel Arteta’s side dominated possession in the early stages and seemed to have hit their stride when the game’s first controversial moment occurred.
Trossard’s brilliant curling shot from outside the area was initially given as a goal, but referee Craig Pawson overturned it for sustained holding after consulting the video assistant referee. Arsenal’s Ben White had his left arm around Ward’s right as the ball came over at a corner, while White and Ashley Barnes also appeared to collide during the same incident.
Arsenal’s sense of injustice increased a few minutes later when their claims for a penalty, after Bukayo Saka tangled with Harry Souttar, were waved away by Pawson.
Martinelli grabbed his ninth goal of the league season just 51 seconds into the second half when he calmly stroked the ball past Ward, sustaining a painful blow to the right leg when Wilfred Ndidi accidentally trod on him in the process of scoring.
Saka also had a goal ruled out when Martinelli was flagged for offside, but Arsenal struggled to impose themselves as the second half progressed.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, given the captain’s armband by his club as a mark of respect in the week of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of his native Ukraine, came close to a second goal in as many games when Ward pushed away the defender’s curling shot.
After this win and victory at Aston Villa a week ago, Arsenal now have the chance to make the most of home advantage against opposition in the lower reaches of the table, as they face Everton on Wednesday and Bournemouth next Saturday.
Foxes fail to make an impression
Leicester’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United last week belied the fact that they played well for periods at Old Trafford, as they attempted to build on the momentum from scoring four goals in both of their previous two games.
But they struggled to get going against Arsenal, with the home side and the home crowd only finally stirred into life when Dewsbury-Hall’s effort had curled just wide after 72 minutes.
They lacked the spark that James Maddison could have brought them, the midfielder missing out after illness.
The defeat leaves the Foxes just three points above the relegation zone, and following their FA Cup fifth-round tie with Blackburn on Tuesday they resume league duties with a visit to bottom-of-the-table Southampton on 4 March.