The Saturday Night Takeaway: Man City play into Leicester hands and Walcott and Arsenal rise to challenge

Plus Ross Barkley remains in focus for Everton

Leicester, Manchester City, Jamie Vardy, Claudio Bravo

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy rounds Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to score his side's third goal during the Premier League match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images

Saturday night's Premier League action was capped off by an excellent 4-2 victory for Leicester against Manchester City.

And it was intriguing day overall from the early kick off between Watford and Everton, all the way to the evening match.

Leicester find an opponent that suits them

European commitments have proven a distraction for Leicester this season. But there is also the fact that some personnel changes and opposition teams setting up to nullify their favoured counter-attack has given Claudio Ranieri's side much to think about.

Before facing Manchester City, the Foxes were uncomfortably close to the relegation zone.

But in a way, Pep Guardiola's side were the perfect opponent. A high line and proactive approach from City meant Leicester could revert to the reactive game that led them to Premier League glory last season.

It also suited the pace of Jamie Vardy as he could run into the spaces between and behind the City defenders.

And by the time one could blink, the reigning champions were 3-0 up on Pep's side and cruising towards an all important result.

Guardiola has faced many sides set up to counter but the Premier League provides more opponents that are on a par with his side or not as far off as the type of teams Barcelona and Bayern Munich had to contend with during his spells there. 

Chelsea ruthlessly exposed that shakiness at the back and Leicester more than tested it on Saturday evening.

Walcott symbolises Arsenal's renewed resilience

Arsenal are not the finished article but there is a level of grit and determination that was evident in the 3-1 home victory over Stoke City.

After going behind to a Charlie Adam penalty, the Gunners did not hit the panic button and did not allow themselves to get frustrated, even amid occasional nervy moments at the back.

Theo Walcott got the all important equaliser with a well-timed run to the near post in order to convert Hector Bellerin's cross in style.

It set the platform for victory and showed Arsenal's ability to dig out a result even when they are not playing especially well.

They sparkled at West Ham last Saturday - Alexis Sanchez in particular - but that hasn't been the case throughout all their victories.

Wenger and Walcott

The Sanchez-Mesut Ozil combination has been the key to unlocking defences but the supporting case like Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Nacho Monreal and others have made their presence felt.

John Giles had already noted the extra aggression in Walcott's game this season and that drive was symbolised by a mazy run into the box against Stoke before forcing a smart save from Lee Grant.

And Walcott (27) himself has described this current Arsenal team as "the best team I have ever been involved in" when he spoke to the BBC post match.

And it chimes with what Arsene Wenger said at the start of the season: "I would say it's the most mature squad I've had in a long time. Because they are men. They are not 19, 20-year-old players. They are 24, 27, 28 and the whole squad is quite mature. It's the first time for a long time that I have a team of what you'd call men, who are ready to compete."

Ross Barkley

The Everton home hero is still only 23 and thus inconsistency will remain a feature of his game until he fully matures.

But Ronald Koeman's impatience with the player is clear, having benched him for the last two games.

While Barkley's complete absence from the draw with Manchester United was down to circumstances, he did feature for 27 minutes in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Watford.

His end product over the season has been relatively sparse with two goals and an assist, even if he is statistically Everton's greatest chance creator by a long way.

"He is part of the team that needs to be more clinical and more creative too," said Koeman of Barkley prior to the Watford game.

But it's a message that should go to the entire team as inconsistency reigns.

Everton haven't won in the league since the 2-0 win over West Ham in late October when Barkley found the net.

Since then three defeats and two draws have followed, forcing a side that started the season with good results down towards midtable.