Arsenal 4 – 3 Leicester City
The only thing missing from this white-knuckle ride opening game was Dennis Norden, puns and clipboard front and centre stage. There was a happy ending to the evening; no repeat of the defeats to West Ham United and Liverpool. Trhee points, top of the table for a couple of hours longer; good morning football, I’ve missed you.
Alexandre Lacazette will not forget his debut. Ninety-four seconds into the match and he probably wondered what the fuss was about. Ninety minutes later, he must have wondered if every Premier League game was going to be this madcap.
Defeat last night would have been criminal, particularly after Lacazette’s opener. I thought he did well with good movement across the pitch. His goal typified that, finding space in the box to head home comfortably. Old vulnerabilities resurfaced with Cech beaten by the flight of the ball, none of the defenders tracking the run around the back of the defence and one of the shortest players on the pitch – Okazaki – heading home the equaliser.
It was a one-sided match where we were punished. Leicester had few chances and probably took them all, or all the ones on target. Inevitably, Jamie Vardy twice gave the Foxes the lead. The first, on the break, found a gap in the heart of the unfamiliar trio and slotted home, before Danny Welbeck equalised as intricate patterns broke the offside trap and gave him the simplest of tap-ins.
Vardy’s second exposed the night’s vulnerabilities but two quickfire goals late in the game, restored the universe’s equliibrium. Aaron Ramsey, with Olivier Giroud, saw Wenger move to a 4-3-3 with just over twenty minutes to go, rammed home the third after Granit Xhaka’s exquisite pass before Giroud won the match with a fine header.
Hits and Misses
There were plenty of question marks over the back line but with Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi both likely to return to the starting line-up next weekend, I’m not particularly worried by the holes in our defence last night. Repeating the pattern of the game at Stoke and yes, there will be huge question marks over what is going on.
Arsène didn’t try and hide those problems after the game but as you’d expect focussed on the positives of three points,
Well if you were a manager and you would be on the bench when you’re 3-2 down with 20 minutes to go, and you win 4-3, you’re more happy than concerned. I feel as well that the goals we conceded, we can work together to get rid of that because one was a corner, one was a ball we lost in the build up and the third goal was on a corner again, so we conceded two goals on corners. We were quite good last year on corners and overall I believe that with a bit of work we can get that out of the system.
The manner of Leicester’s goals won’t have been lost on the watching Stoke City scouts.
Despite that, I thought Sead Kolasinac once again played well, handling the nerves and new style of opposition play, well. The same with Lacazette. Moving to a 4-3-3 might be welcomed in some quarters but for the moment it is still Plan B. An effective one but one performance isn’t enough to change a whole system. It wasn’t last year so won’t be this. Unless, that’s the new Arsène way of thinking.
Beast not Burden
Danny Welbeck appreciated Kolasinac, and is another to highlight his strength,
Sead, honestly, with his aggressiveness at the back and getting up towards the strikers, winning the ball back and breaking forward he was great for us. He’s like a beast on the pitch
The partnership of Elneny and Xhaka was curtailed with the introduction of Aaron Ramsey in the search of an equaliser. The Welshman delivered and probably put himself back into the starting line-up in the process. There won’t be many arguments if he gets forward to support the attack as effectively during the course of the season.
And being a match officiated by Mike Dean, controversy surfaced. This time media-driven, it must be said. Mesut Özil, subdued last night by his own standards, was deemed to control the ball with his arm, even though it was in a ‘natural’ position. There would have been no surprise if Dean had penalised him but is shows how difficult deciding what is deliberate in those situations and what isn’t. That he then denied us a stonewall penalty is no surprise either.
Three points and that’s all we can ask for. It was an entertaining game where the gamut of emotions coursed through our bodies. A late winner always give a victory a sweeter taste, but to grab two goals in a short spell makes the ‘high’ higher.