If the encounter between Arsenal and Leicester that took place on Friday is anything to go by, then Premier League fans are in for a treat this season. The game at the Emirates literally raised the curtains for the footballing season in England as both teams put in that extra effort to make it an entertaining game.
Alexandre Lacazette, the North London Club’s record signing made an incredible start to life in the Premier League by notching up his first goal in just 94 seconds after connecting expertly to Elneny’s quick cross.
The euphoria didn’t last long for the Gunners faithful as Okazaki equalized almost immediately after some dodgy defending from the Emirates club. The forward overpowered Xhaka in the air to home a header into the empty net as Petr Cech was caught in no man’s land.
Then, a miscommunication between Xhaka, Holding and Bellerin caused another defensive error which Albrighton effectively utilised by floating it to Vardy across the goal who found the back of the net.
The Gunners huffed and puffed for the rest of the first half and saw their efforts rewarded in the last minute of the half as new boy Sead Kolasinac unselfishly squared the ball for Welbeck to bundle in.
The first half ended with both teams square at 2 goals a piece and it setup the platform for an enthralling next 45 minutes. As hoped for, the second half lived up to the expectations as Jamie Vardy scored a second with a header to put the visitors ahead, sending visiting fans into a frenzy.
Arsene Wenger then reacted by making a tactical change by bringing on Ramsey and Giroud and taking off Elneny and Holding. This invariably made Oxlade switch to Right back, Bellerin to Left back, Kolasinac and Monreal to Left and Right Centre back as the formation morphed into a 4-3-3 or a hybrid 4-5-1 from the 3-4-3 the Gunners started the game with.
Man of the moment Lacazette was pushed out Left and Welbeck who was later substituted for Walcott, out Right with Giroud taking up the Centre Forward position. Ozil, Xhaka, and Ramsey made up the midfield positions and the game suddenly turned on its head.
Craig Shakespear responded by taking off James from the middle of the park and brought on their club record signing from Man City Iheanacho to partner Vardy up top.
The idea was simple since Leicester were up, there was no doubt Arsene’s men would push for an equalizer thereby exposing themselves behind. However, that decision backfired as the Gunners went on to score 2 goals in the span of 3 minutes to make it 4-3.
Aaron Ramsey scored the first of those goals with a beautiful touch and finish while Olivier Giroud once again showed his aerial strength to head home the winner.
The North London club ended the explosive encounter victoriously but the win didn’t mask the obvious questions raised by the Arsenal faithful over the three goals conceded.
As much as this sentiment is valid, it must be taken into consideration that the defence was a make shift one. Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal will form the back three for most of the season as opposed to the mixture yesterday.
It is undeniable that the Arsenal attack is inherently packed with talents, however with Thursday night football becoming a regular feature in the Gunners curriculum, the need for rotation may require the Emirates club to further bolster their ranks with at least one more addition.
Alexandre Lacazette surely had a debut to remember as he not only scored but proved instrumental in most of the attacking moves. There is no doubt that for all intents and purposes, the Premier League is back and the proverbial curtain has truly been raised. This was Arsenal’s first win in a campaign opener since 2012/13 season.
Truth be told, I can’t wait for the next game away at Stoke at the Bet365 Stadium…
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