Five Thoughts: Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City

An eye-bleeding 1-0 win from a jammy deflected own-goal off of someone's face? WHAT YEAR IS IT? (Hence the five thoughts instead of ten - hell, if you can come up with five more out of this dreck then fair play to you.)

1. The manager rightly stuck with the 3-4-3, but this was a sort of experimental-jazz version of it. Hector Bellerin (thankfully sans those war-crime braids) was back in the team, Kieran Gibbs was in, shuffling Nacho Monreal to the left side of the central defensive three. Theo Walcott played in the central striker role, while Francis Coquelin deputized for Aaron Ramsey.

Nothing came off on the attacking side of things, but I think I get where Arsene was coming from. Leicester had one or two chances, but they didn't look to me like they were all that interested in coming out of their shell long enough to even try their usual lightning-counter thing. My suspicion is that Wenger was hoping to counter the counters, for lack of a better term. Walcott's pace would be perfect for that, and a rested Bellerin would also be more suited to that then a perhaps-tired Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Because the Foxes camped out in their half of the field, Walcott became a peripheral figure and it was soon right back to the endless sideways-passing thing that makes me want to jam a railroad spike into my eye.

2. I'm not kidding, you can count the true chances in this game on the fingers of one hand. Petr Cech had to be sharp in the first half to tip over a Riyad Mahrez shot, after a Stoke-ian long throw from Robert Huth caused panic in our area. Walcott had a tame shot saved by Kasper Schmeichel. Alexis hit the bar in first-half stoppage time with a thunderbastard of a shot. Granit Xhaka took a shot that deflected off a defender, forcing Schmeichel to change direction and paw it away. Gabriel made a fabulous sliding block to prevent a 2-on-1 from Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki.

That's five, by my count. I'm not including the goal, as really that was just a blind bit of luck more than an actual chance.

What a *dreadful* game.

3. Leicester didn't attack much during the game, but when they did we utterly failed to break at pace to punish them. Coquelin was part of the problem, although Ramsey was just as guilty of the needless backwards pass once he came on. I keep harping on the idea that a formation is only as good as the execution of all of its various components - we theoretically could counter effectively in this set-up, but the hesitancy that has pockmarked our campaign all year seems to not be so easily unlearned.

Beyond that, once it does get into attack-vs-defense as it so often has this season, I just wish that we moved more dynamically. Have guys switch wings, get the forwards moving around, try and open up gaps. We're so static, it's unbelievable. Especially on a day like today, a big lummox like Huth is not going to be comfortable trying to track mobile forwards.

Just as I praised Arsene for sticking to his guns at the weekend, here I think he could have made changes a little earlier.

4. When they did come though, they were the right ones. There was no need for the spare defender and a specialist defensive midfielder with Leicester refusing to stick their heads above the parapet. So, off came Theo, Coquelin and Gibbs, on came Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud. We moved back to the standard back four, and while the chances didn't flow from there I'd argue that we were at least a little more fluent on the ball and kept the Foxes pinned back further than they might have been.

Perhaps that might have been a factor late on, as Leicester tired and mistakes crept in. A late Alexis cross was only half-cleared by Wilfred Ndidi, and Monreal was able to volley it back into the mixer. Something broke our way for once, as it went off of Huth's face and in. Magic.

5. Finally, my god Alexis, have a little respect for yourself. Yes, Huth is a giant shitbag and how he escaped a yellow for deliberately throwing the ball into Sanchez's face, I'll never know. Still, to wait two or three full seconds before going down clutching your face? Fuck outta here, man, this isn't Serie A.

Right, so this isn't one that we're going to make a DVD of or anything (though the nearest and dearest might for their lucky escape against a bang average Crystal Palace side - goddamn they've been good five minutes and they're insufferable it for two bloody decades and then get back to me you absolute muppets). But, we're starting to make United, City and Liverpool hear a few footsteps, and given that they will take some points off of each other just due to the schedule alone, maybe top four isn't so ridiculous after all. It didn't seem like it a few weeks back, but we may have stumbled into a formation that gives us enough structure to do it.

There's the small matter of the North London Derby before that though, and naturally that's going to be a significantly sterner examination of the new formation than a putrid Boro team and a Foxes side doing its best Punxatawney Phil impersonation. I'd say we can be just objective enough in this parish to admit that they're legitimately dangerous, even if they aren't the reincarnation of Brazil 1970 like their deluded supporters would have you believe.

Still, we're going to see if the recent upturn in form from Gabriel, Monreal, Cech, and others will be enough to withstand a tough opponent in top form, never mind in the cauldron of Shite Hart Lane. My hope is that Rob Holding is fit enough to play, that Coquelin is nowhere near the starting XI, and that either Alexis or Giroud plays up top. I think we can do it but it's going to be a big ask.

I'm well up for it, though...much more so than I would have been a few weeks ago. Arsenal Twitter may still be a ridiculous cesspool, but hopefully the atmosphere in the dressing room has improved enough for us to give it a right old go.

Man of the Match:  Gabriel

Man of the Match for Manchester City Cause I Forgot: Nacho Monreal