Vardy scores as Leicester beats Arsenal 2-0 in EPL

LEICESTER, England (AP) — Jamie Vardy bagged one goal and set up another as Leicester confirmed its status as a surprise Premier League title contender with a 2-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday.

After Arsenal wasted chances in the first half, Vardy scored from a pass by Youri Tielemans in the 68th minute, then laid on the second for James Maddison seven minutes later.

It left Arsenal sixth in the table and fast falling off the pace to qualify for the Champions League. Unai Emery’s team has not won for five games and has conceded goals in its last seven.

“I am speaking with the club to stay calm and to stay patient to improve and recover some confidence,” Emery said.

“We are receiving criticism but I know that’s my job. I’ve had lots of moments like that.”

It wasn’t a smash-and-grab win by an underdog, either.

Leicester created more, and better, chances than Arsenal, leading 19-8 on shots and recording seven on target to the London team’s one.

Alexandre Lacazette missed good chances for Arsenal early on, but Leicester gradually became more threatening, especially when Wilfried Ndidi hit the crossbar in the 49th.

Arsenal then had a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal chalked off for offside.

Vardy’s goal capped a fine team move from Leicester, with Tielemans playing a one-two before feeding the former England striker at the far post.

In the 75th Vardy held up the ball in the box and played it into the path of the advancing Maddison, who hit a fierce low shot that left Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno with no chance.

Granit Xhaka was left out of the Arsenal side for the fourth game in a row following a controversial incident last month.