What a time to be alive, as the Premier league kicked off to some nice entertainment on a Friday evening at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal and Leicester City kicked off the new campaign in a thrilling fashion that left neutrals feeling entertained.
Arsenal in the last seven seasons has only won one of their opening fixtures and were keen to make amends kicking off into their eighth seasons, searching for the win. Wenger started with a 3-4-3 system fielding Petr Cech, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerin, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohammed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil, Danny Welbeck and Alexandre Lacazette, while Leicester had Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire, Christian Fuchs, Marc Albrighton, Matty James, Wilfred Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez, who has been heavily linked with the hosts all summer, Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy.
Right from referee Mike Dean’s kick-off whistle, the match was deemed to be an interesting one as it took only 94 seconds for the stadium to be electrified. New signing Lacazette took no time scoring in front of his new fans as he scored a true strikers goal. A cross from Elneny found the head of Lacazette, who opened his body, drawing Wes Morgan to power a header into the far post of Schmeichel.
An error from Cech in the 5th minute allowed Okazaki to equalise for the visitors as a cross was looped into the box by Albrighton, with the Czech international completely running out of his goal as Maguire headed the ball towards goal leaving Okazaki to head in from an open net.
Albrighton would register his second assist in the 29th minute, as our right side seemed to be exposed. Holding, lacking the confidence he usually displays, perhaps not getting adequate cover from Bellerin after a Granit Xhaka misplaced pass; picking Vardy to run across the defence with a simple tap-in.
In stoppage time of the first half, Arsenal played their beautiful game to make it 2-2 on the night. A nice tiki-taka initiated by Ozil found Lacazette who I wasn’t quite sure took a shot or passed to Kolasinac who was cleared on in a one on one situation with Schmeichel but squared it to Welbeck to give us the equaliser. The goal I’m sure changed Wenger’s half-time talks.
Ten minutes after the restart saw the host go behind yet again as Vardy who was unmarked headed a corner from Mahrez in. The assist from Mahrez was perhaps his best contribution to the match as he was completely bullied by Kolasinac who didn’t allow the winger to play his natural game.
It was looking like another opening day defeat for the Gunners until super subs Aaron Ramsey and Oliver Giroud acted as just that, saving us from the blemish. A corner kick from Ozil proved futile and the rebound fell to Xhaka who saw the raised hand of Ramsey – calmly making a delightful pass to the Welshman to brilliantly score a nice equaliser for the Gunners in the 83rd minute.
The winner would come two minutes later when Frenchman Giroud headed in a Granit Xhaka corner that flicked off the bar and going in. It took Mike Dean a couple of seconds to award the goal as the Gunners completely showed fight to erase yet another opening day defeat or draw.
Three hours before the match, I tweeted Lacazette scoring and Xhaka getting an assist but got my score line prediction wrong. Too early to start pointing fingers at our defence as we had only one natural CB play in defence but our attack was terrifying without our explosive star man Alexis Sanchez.
A great weekend it will be, as we all watch to see how other teams fare in their Matchday 1 fixture. I totally love the way our attack was shaped and Chamberlain running things from the flanks and did I ever mention Lacazette’s defensive work rate for the Gunners?