A Mesut Ozil inspired Arsenal survived a first-half scare to beat Leicester 3-1 at the Emirates in the Premier League’s Monday night clash.
Leicester were denied a clear penalty early on but took the lead through Hector Bellerin’s unfortunate deflection from Ben Chilwell’s effort.
The Gunners controlled the match thereafter and equalised through Ozil on the stroke of half-time before substitute Pierre Emerick Aubameyang fired in a quick second half double.
Arsenal move into the Champions League places with a 10th successive win in all competitions, two points behind joint leaders Man City and Liverpool.
Arsenal made two changes from the demolition of Fulham before the international break, bringing in Stephan Lichtsteiner and Mesut Ozil in place of Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck.
Leicester were forced into a change of their own, with captain Wes Morgan suspended after his dismissal against Everton. Jonny Evans took the Jamaican international’s place in the heart of defence alongside Harry Maguire.
Arsenal dominated possession in the opening exchanges but looked vulnerable on the counter attack. Kelechi Iheanacho twice went close before the impressive James Maddison blazed over a dangerous free-kick.
Leicester began to see more of the ball as the half went on, and were denied what looked a certain penalty when Rob Holding handled a header from Jamie Vardy.
The replays clearly showed an infringement, but referee Chris Kavanagh waved play on to the delight of the home fans.
The Arsenal defence appeared to have weathered the early storm, only to suffer some bad luck of their own with Leicester’s opener.
Just after the half-hour mark, Ben Chilwell’s effort from the left was diverted past Bernd Leno courtesy of a huge deflection off Hector Bellerin.
The Gunners response was admirable, however. Midfield duo Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira were imperiously calm in possession as the home side took control.
Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi also continued energetic displays in search of an equaliser, but it was Mesut Ozil who provided it on the stroke of half-time.
Hector Bellerin made amends for his intervention at the other end by providing the assist, Ozil providing a cushioned finish to the Spaniard’s cut-back after a sweeping move.
The goal was harsh on Leicester; who can feel aggrieved that they were denied a penalty after dominating the opening half hour, but after sitting back, the Foxes were carved open by a classy goal.
Arsenal have an exceptional second half record so far this season, and set about continuing that with Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan going close after a poor backpass from Nampalys Mendy.
The waves of Gunners attacks continued, but Leicester gave a reminder of their threat when Wilfred Ndidi thumped a header onto the crossbar with Leno beaten.
The Arsenal screw continued to turn, however, and Unai Emery’s side were rewarded after a brave double substitution from the Frenchman.
Lichtsteiner and Mkhitaryan made way for Matteo Guendouzi and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and the Gabonese forward stunned Leicester with a quickfire double.
Mesut Ozil was the instigator of both, providing a glorious through ball to Bellerin for Aubemeyang’s first followed by a direct assist for his second after a brilliant team move.
Another superb move almost brought a fourth, before Ozil was replaced to a standing ovation with 10 minutes left.
The Foxes continued to have no response to Arsenal’s pace in attack and Lacazette should have put the gloss on an otherwise impeccable second half, but he failed to convert Iwobi’s cross from the right.
Ozil proves worth again
After a testing few months, Mesut Ozil reminded Arsenal fans of his worth to the club with a number of telling contributions.
The former German international provided the finishing touch to the move which brought the Gunners level and played a glorious through-ball to Bellerin for the second.
He was involved twice in the build-up to the third, intricately playing the ball around in midfield before supplying Aubameyang with the killer ball.
Questions will inevitably remain about his worth impact in the biggest of games, but he proved the difference today. The majestic midfielder was granted a standing ovation following his substitution for Aaron Ramsey late on.
Aubameyang unlucky not to be starting?
To have two in-form strikers is a manager’s dream, and Unai Emery will not be complaining one bit. Lacazette was lively throughout with little direct reward, while Aubemeyang reminded the Frenchmen of his impact in emphatic fashion.
Former Dortmund and St Etienne striker Aubameyang has now been involved in 23 goals for Arsenal since his arrival in January, the highest at the club.
Emery has so far resisted starting both strikers on most occasions, and with 10 wins on the bounce, it is hard to disagree.
With the Europa League occupying many of the Gunners’ Thursday evenings up to Christmas at least, it seems likely Emery will continue to rotate the two, though Aubameyang can continue to count himself unlucky if he remains the substitute option frequently in the league.
Leicester punished for sitting back
The Foxes deserved to be in front in the first half, but Ndidi’s header from a corner early was their only effort after half time.
Though Arsenal’s play was at times sensational, the Foxes never appeared likely to match their opponents after they surrendered the league on the cusp of half-time.
Though they were well beaten in the end, Claude Puel may well look back on this as a missed chance having threatened so frequently until the opening goal.
Man of the Match: Mesut Ozil
Ozil was involved in all three of the Gunners goals on his return to the side.
The World Cup winner deservedly received a standing ovation by the delighted Emirates faithful when he was replaced with 10 minutes left and sent out a reminder that on his day, the German is simply world-class.