My guys from Arsenal almost stunk the joint out against Leicester City. The guys needed two late goals to escape with a 4-3 win over the Foxes at our house Emirates.
EPL Match Report:” Late goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud earned Arsenal a comeback 4-3 win over Leicester City in a thrilling 2017/18 Premier League season opener.
The scoring started inside two minutes when Alexandre Lacazette found the net with a header on his PL debut.
But Shinji Okazaki nodded in from close-range three minutes later before Jamie Vardy converted a superb Marc Albrighton cross to put the Foxes 2-1 up.
Danny Welbeck scored in first-half stoppage-time before Vardy restored Leicester’s advantage with a header from Riyad Mahrez’s corner on 56 minutes.
But Ramsey struck from a Granit Xhaka cross on 83 minutes and Giroud’s header went in off the crossbar from another Xhaka delivery two minutes later to settle a gripping contest.
The Guardians Amy Lawrence wrote this:” Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to a new season reminiscent of the old at the Emirates, where the good news is Arsenal broke their transfer record for a striker but the bad news is they ended their first game of the season with a classically dysfunctional defence. It was an extraordinary combination – a midfield player at right-back, two left-backs at centre-back and a right-back at left-back. Confused? Who wouldn’t be. Leicester had all the clarity as they took advantage and a 3-2 lead into the final stages of an intoxicating tussle.
Oh Arsenal. Typical Arsenal. Absurd Arsenal. But where in seasons past this kind of situation tended to end with opening day navel-gazing, this time they found the resources to twist the tale with a theatrical flourish. Wenger threw on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud to attempt a rescue mission and both of them delivered with goals to transform the atmosphere from fretful and pressurised to the liberating joy of a thumping comeback. The match-winner from Giroud sent shudders through north London. In finding the composure to power a header while wrestling his marker he made his point that the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette would not easily make him expendable.
Arsenal’s penchant for starting seasons by getting a wobble in early has become something of an epidemic and they made a good stab at a repeat here. Arsène Wenger leaned on the game’s statistics to suggest this win was somehow logical – bags of possession and 27 shots for his team compared to three on target for the visitors – but few in the crowd would have argued had Leicester been able to hold on to the lead they seized with moments of ferocious determination.
A frenetic opening five minutes set the tone and presented a microcosm of all of Arsenal’s weird, paradoxical sense of possibility. Their ability to exude verve and be vulnerable in the same few flashes of a game was there for all to see. Day-one optimism cascaded down from the stands as the record signing Lacazette opened the scoring with his first meaningful Premier League touch. A mere two minutes into his official Arsenal career he was unmarked in the box to steer a powerful header past Kasper Schmeichel.
The Emirates crowd cherished the moment. But not for long. Leicester’s response was resolute and instant, exposing the old familiar defensive off-switch in Arsenal’s mechanics. Leicester loaded players into forward positions and when Marc Albrighton floated a cross over to the far post, the impressive Harry Maguire was more alert to the situation than any Arsenal defender. He sprinted to nod the ball back to Shinji Okazaki, whose movement was sparkier than any opponent and he finished instinctively.
Having equalised, it would have been rude of Leicester to turn down the opportunity to take the lead in the 28th minute. Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka were punished for some casual passing in midfield as Albrighton pounced to carve the kind of opening that inspired Jamie Vardy to become synonymous with so many Leicester parties. The strike was smart and true.
The goal sucked the confidence out of Arsenal. Rob Holding was robbed of the ball. Leicester zoomed into another break and Okazaki was a fraction away from heading in a third. It spoke volumes of how Leicester interpreted the temperature of the game that both their centre-backs, Maguire and Wes Morgan, felt compelled to amble forward and frighten Arsenal’s rearguard from open play.
The makeshift defence that Wenger pieced together, without the senior influences of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker or Shkodran Mustafi, was jittery and easily stretched. A bizarre half ended with a reprieve for the home team. After Lacazette’s shot was blocked Leicester’s defenders raised choreographed “offside” arms while Sead Kolasinac ambled on to poke the ball for Danny Welbeck to prod in an equaliser. The half-time whistle was greeted by bubbling chitter-chatter about the reintroduction to the inexplicable emotional strain of Premier League chaos.
It did not ease off too much after the break. Emergency action from Petr Cech, twice, to deny the onrushing Vardy and then a clever shot from Riyad Mahrez, merely delayed the seemingly inevitable. Mahrez’s well-whipped corner was gobbled up by Vardy with a textbook glancing header. Set piece, simple stuff for Leicester. It was the umpteenth time one of their players had moved untracked on to an aerial ball. Wenger later tried a touch of positive spin by saying his team were good at corners last season and insisted they could work on this and iron out the kinks. Time will tell on that one.
The introduction of Giroud and Ramsey was influential, and a missed handball from Mesut Özil in the build-up to the equaliser was also helpful. Following a corner, Ramsey neatly controlled Xhaka’s dinked cross with one touch and buried his shot into the far corner with the next.
Arsenal went for the jugular. Lacazette danced through the pack and tested Schmeichel but it was Giroud who majestically delivered the coup de grace. Both Leicester’s dejection and Arsenal’s elation were understandable.”