Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City: Analysis as Gunners edge opening day thriller

Arsenal were able to get off to a winning start thanks to a late Olivier Giroud header.

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City: Analysis as Gunners edge opening day thriller
Olivier Giroud celebrates his timely winner | Photo Credit: GettyImages: Shaun Botterill

The opening day of the 2017/18 Premier League season certainly didn't disappoint, as Arsenal and Leicester City played out an epic encounter. 

Arsenal's opening-day record in recent years is questionable to say the least, particularly on home turf. Whereas 2015/16 champions Leicester were keen to get off to a strong start and avoid any potential relegation battle.

Early goals set the tone

It took just 95 seconds for the deadlock to be broken. Arsenal's summer acquisition and record signing Alexandre Lacazette glanced home a header from 12 yards out following a cross from Mohamed Elneny. This was the fastest debut goal in Premier League history.

An early impact from Lacazette, who scored with his first chance of the game. It is of course early days, but it looks as if the former Lyon man will score a few for his new club. 

Arsenal were without the services of the suspended Laurent Koscielny, Confederations Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi was only fit enough for the bench, and both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel missed the game through injury. 

Just three minutes after Arsenal's opener, their makeshift defence were put to the test, a test which they were unable to pass. Leicester's Shinji Okazaki found himself unmarked on a corner, and after unconvincing goalkeeping from Petr Cech, was able score from point blank range.

Arsenal continued to push forward in an effort to reclaim the lead, but Kasper Schmeichel proved a difficult obstacle in goal. The Danish international made a few smart saves from Danny Welbeck and Saed Kolasinac to maintain parity for his side.

Leicester were then able to turn the game around completely, capitalising on sloppy play in the middle of the park from the hosts. In the 29th minute, England marksman and former Arsenal target Jamie Vardy raced onto a beautiful cross from Mark Albrighton, and steered the ball beyond Cech. 

The mood around the stadium had changed completely. There were murmurs of discontent from the crowd and the feeling of 'here we go again' swept throughout The Emirates.

However, right on the stroke of half time Arsenal made it 2-2 through the lively Welbeck. Newboy Kolasinac broke free in the Leicester area and put the ball on a plate for Welbeck who couldn't miss from close range.

A very entertaining game, which promised and ultimately delivered more goals. 

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Vardy's party

Neither side seemed happy with a point, and it showed in the way they played their football.

Arsenal pushed forward in an attempt to retake the lead, but it was the visitors who managed to edge in front. Ten minutes into the second half, a Riyad Mahrez corner found Vardy who lept well and nodded the ball into the far corner. Leicester refused to give in and Arsenal were at sixes and sevens at the back.

The Gunners continued to pour forward in search of a third goal which would put them level. Spanish full back Hector Bellerin was presented with a glorious chance around the hour mark after being played through by Welbeck, but in-form 'keeper Schmeichel was equal to his low shot. 

The crowd at The Emirates was once again cautiously subdued, and it wasn't till Arsene Wenger made his substitutions that the tide would once again turn. 

Rob Holding, who had largely struggled up against Vardy and Mahrez, was replaced by Olivier Giroud inside the 67th minute, and Elneny was taken off for Aaron Ramsey, who recently shook of a calf injury.

Arsenal subs take centre stage

Arsene Wenger is often criticised by Arsenal fans for his substitutions, many believe he leaves it too late in the day. Wenger has a tendency to not make any changes before the 70th minute, but his choice and timing of substitutions were exactly the tonic his side needed. 

Granit Xhaka, who was having a growing influence on the game, played a key role in Arsenal's turnaround. After Mesut Ozil's 82nd minute corner eventually fell to him outside the box, he was able to find Ramsey in the Leicester area with a deft, outside-of-the-foot pass.

Ramsey then produced a fantastic touch to set himself up and made no mistake with his finish. Lashing the ball past Schmeichel who was starting to look unbeatable in the Leicester goal. Arsenal were level, but they sensed there was more in the game for them, enter Olivier Giroud. 

Arsenal won another corner in the 85th minute after a good sequence of play resulted in Lacazette's left footed shot blocked. Xhaka took the corner, and picked out the forehead of Giroud who demonstrated remarkable strength to hold off Wes Morgan and crash a header in off the crossbar. 

Yet again, Giroud had come off the bench and made a decisive contribution. Proving his importance to Arsenal who will no doubt be delighted he has recently came out to pledge his future to the club. 

With Welbeck, Lacazette and Giroud all on the scoresheet, it certainly presents a headache for Wenger when selected his starting eleven for Stoke City next week. When you factor in the return of one Alexis Sanchez, it could be interesting times ahead for the north Londoners. 

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