Monday, December 11, 2017

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City: Wenger’s Super Subs Complete Late Gunners Comeback in a Wild Season Opener

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We could not have asked for a better start to the new Premier League season.

Arsenal and Leicester City gave the Emirates crowd a complete show with all of the elements of classic drama. We had joy, disappointment, turnovers and tears of joy in a game which produced no less than seven goals and a remarkable display from both sides.

In the end, it’s Arsenal who open the new campaign with three points in the bag courtesy of the remarkable 4-3 win. The full match report of this highly-eventful match can be read below:

Form Guide & Team News

Both Arsenal and Leicester City had a mixed preseason with a couple of games won and lost, which in all honesty played little part in the opening match of the new Premier League season.

Truth be told, Arsenal were one step in front of their Friday’s rivals as they have already played a competitive match by winning the Community Shield against Chelsea last week. The triumph did little to boost their confidence however against motivated Foxes.

The Gunners faced plenty of defensive issues which forced Arsene Wenger to go with Nacho Monreal in the heart of defence due to the unavailability of Gabriel, Koscielny and Mertesacker who were all sorely missed. The hosts also missed their key man Alexis Sanchez who is said to be unavailable through injury, although there appears to be much more than what meets the eye.

The visitors also had a couple of selection issues for the curtain raiser at the Emirates, as Foxes had to do without Drinkwater, Huth and Iborra.

First Half

It all started ever so well for Arsenal who took the lead after only two minutes in the match through their summer signing Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman’s second touch on the ball was a nod on Mohamed Elneny’s cross for a goal celebration at the Emirates and close to a perfect start of the new season.

Still, Lacazette’s goal was only a sign of the things to come as we went on to witness an extremely eventful match in London.

Leicester City took only 160 seconds to get back on terms with Arsenal when debutant Harry Maguire headed the ball towards nicely positioned Shinji Okazaki, who simply turned the ball past Petr Cech.

Arsenal refused to get baffled and confused as they started to take more control of the match as the first half went by. The hosts came close to scoring through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck whose close-range effort got blocked in the nick of time. In addition to creating goal chances, Arsenal displayed a string of nice link-up play and neat passing, but it all counted for nothing as Leicester City managed to turn the result over completely 29 minutes into the match.

Arsenal have only themselves to blame for conceding the second goal in the first half as a mistake passing the ball out from the backline resulted in an interception and a counterattack with Albrighton sending an inch-perfect cross for Jamie Vardy who nailed the ball in.

Arsenal refused to go down without the fight and managed to find the morale-boosting equalizer after a fine link-up play in the final third of the pitch. Sead Kolasinac was unselfish to tee up Danny Welbeck inside the box for an easy tap in and a vital goal right before the break.

Second half

The game lost none of its tempo after the break as both sides continued to push forward in attempt to go in front.  

It was Arsenal who saw more of the ball in the opening stages, but Leicester City were determined to show they are no pushovers and kept fighting back which brought concrete results only 11 minutes into the second term.

Leicester City won themselves a corner which allowed Jamie Vardy to bring a flashback to the old 2015/16 Vardy we were all in awe with. England international striker overjumped Arsenal defence at the front post and glanced the ball home by picking out the far corner.

Things looked grim for Arsene Wenger’s but with more than 30 minutes on the clock Arsenal knew things were far from being over. Arsenal manager made all three changes in the span of less than ten minutes and it was the introduction of Ramsey and Giroud that proved to be crucial for the final outcome of the match.

The last twenty minutes of the match produced an openly-contested game with chances keep piling on both ends of the pitch. It was Arsenal, however, who maintained composure and displayed great attitude to climb back from over the cliff first through Aaron Ramsey who leveled the score and then through Olivier Giroud who earned his team vital three points and a massive morale boost at the very beginning of the season.

Ramsey showed great control latching on Xhaka’s pass before smartly tucking the ball past Schmeichel to level the score with seven minutes left on the clock, while Olivier Giroud managed to somehow stretch his neck to lack on the ball and guide his header off the crossbar and inside the goal for the utter pandemonium on the stands.

Knocked down and well on their knees after two quick blows inflicted by Arsenal subs, Leicester City could have easily conceded another one in the closing minutes but Theo Walcott blazed the ball well over the crossbar from close range without changing the final score of the match: 4-3 Arsenal.

Statistical Overview

  • Arsenal dominate possession with 70% to Leicester’s 30%
  • Arsenal made 26 goal attempts to Leicester’s 6
  • Ten of Arsenal’s all attempts went on target, three of Leicester’s went in
  • Schmeichel made 6 interventions while Cech made no saves
  • Arsenal win only their second of last eight opening EPL matches

ARSENAL: Cech 7 – Holding 6 (Giroud 7.5), Monreal 7, Kolasinac 8 – Bellerin 7, Elneny 6 (Ramsey 7.5), Xhaka 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 – Ozil 6.5, Welbeck 7 (Walcott 6) – Lacazette 7.

Unused subs: Coquelin, Iwobi, Mustafi, Ospina.

LEICESTER CITY: Schmeichel 6.5 – Simpson 6, Morgan 6.5, Maguire 7.5, Fuchs 6 – Mahrez 6.5, James 6.5 (Iheanacho 6), Ndidi 7, Albrighton 7 (Gray 6) – Okazaki 7 (Amartey 6.5) – Vardy 7.5.

Unused subs: Chilwell, Hamer, King.

REFEREE: Michael Dean

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines – most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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