The longest three months of the year are over. Wenger in, Wenger out? A 7-goal thriller on the opening night under the bright lights of the Emirates, the Premier League is well and truly back.
What a scintillating way to welcome back the eagerly-anticipated new season. As a fan of both clubs, and as a neutral, this opening fixture of the 2017/18 Premier League campaign was a roller-coaster of emotion, a thrilling 4-3 victory for Arsenal and a great advertisement for the greatest league in the world.
After exactly 1 minute 36 seconds, the recent curse of Arsenals number 9 was eliminated as Lacazette glanced the ball past Schmeichel, an exciting prospect for Arsenals league ambitions. However, a mere three minutes later, the smallest man on the field nodded the ball into the net after a deep cross from Albrighton was headed back across goal by Foxes new man Harry Maguire, right into the path of Shinji Okazaki.
After a pulsating start, the game settled into what was expected by many. Leicester’s defensive wall stood strong and Arsenal put the pressure on with some accurate and flashy passes carving city’s defensive line. Yet, it was Leicester’s main man, Vardy who netted on 28 minutes after Albrighton played an ostentatious ball into Leicester’s number nine who willingly tapped the ball home.
Arsenal fans and notably Wenger too had rather dull faces with their side 2-1 down after 30 minutes while Sanchez watched on helplessly. Though, with the last kick of the first half, Schmeichel was picking the ball out from his net after a scrappy build up saw Welbeck put the ball into the empty net. 2-2 after 45 minutes, if the second half was anything like the first, you couldn’t take your eyes off it for a second.
The 2nd half began and the natural non-league instinct returned to hungry Vardy, who after 56 minutes found his name on the score sheet again after an impressive header whizzed past Cech following Mahrez’s delightful corner kick. Leicester back in-front but for how long?
65 minutes ticked on and Wenger had to change something. On came Ramsey and Giroud, replacing Elneny and Holding respectively. Looking back on it, a managerial masterclass from Wenger certainly. He undertook a 4-4-2 formation, with a very uncertain defensive line and the two substitutes struggled to make any sort of break-through.
74 minutes resulted in Wenger opting for one Englishman for another, Welbeck exited to make way for Walcott and with Wenger’s frustration growing it took a poorly defended corner kick for Arsenal to get the goal they were craving. Ramsey found himself in space on the right side of the box with no Leicester player in sight, one pass from Xhaka into Ramsey and after a beautiful touch Ramsey slotted the ball home to the relief of many in North London.
Arguably, a poor refereeing error on the build-up which led Arsenal to the resulting corner cost Leicester, as Ozil clearly handled the ball to put it into his path; notably right in front of referee Mike Dean. But the goal stood and it was only 2 minutes later when the Emirates found its life and Wenger In fans started to cheer; Giroud rose highest to head the ball off the bar into the net, much to the disgust of everyone involved with Leicester. 4-3 Arsenal was the way it finished and if this game is anything to go by, the 2017/18 season will be one to remember.
For Arsenal, its fortuitous they were lining up against Leicester tonight; a team Wenger has not lost to in his Premier League reign. But, Wenger needs to sort his uneasy defence, Kolasinac looked bright and Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly has a place as a right-wing back but it was a nervy display from the Gunners backline.
Ozil was quiet but once Sanchez returns, Wenger will have himself an attacking line-up every Premier League team will fear. A tough trip to Stoke awaits them next.
For Leicester – to score 3 at the Emirates and not come out with any points, there will be plenty kicking themselves tonight. Schmeichel mirrored his father and is of paramount importance to the upcoming campaign for Leicester. Vardy and Maguire looked bright and there is certainly a lot of positives to take from tonight’s performance. The King-Power awaits for newcomers Brighton and its vital City get 3 points here.
Written by Eamon Kitching.