Olivier Giroud came off the bench to head home a late winner and seal three points for Arsenal in a topsy-turvy Premier League opener against Leicester.
The Gunners had won just one of their last seven opening-day fixtures and looked destined to start another campaign slowly as the 2015-16 champions took the lead twice only to lose 4-3.
The night started perfectly for Arsenal as new signing Alexandre Lacazette marked his league debut with a goal after just 94 seconds, only for Shinji Okazaki to cancel it out three minutes later.
Jamie Vardy then capitalised on awful defending to twice put the Foxes ahead either side of Danny Welbeck’s equaliser before Arsene Wenger sent on the cavalry.
Substitute Aaron Ramsey rifled home to level before Giroud – introduced alongside the Wales international – headed in an 85th-minute winner to settle a breathless encounter in Arsenal’s favour.
Here, we analyse the performance of two key protagonists, Lacazette and Vardy.
Goals – 1
Shots – 3
Shots on target – 2
Touches – 40
Key passes – 3
Dribbles – 1
Dispossessed – 2
Aerials won – 1
Goals – 2
Shots – 2
Shots on target – 2
Touches – 20
Key passes – 0
Dribbles – 0
Dispossessed – 0
Aerials won – 2
Arsenal looked far more dynamic going forward with Lacazette’s fluidity making it incredibly difficult for Leicester to pick him up.
The visitors lost track of him when he drifted out onto the left and his movement dragged Wes Morgan out of position, opening space for midfield runners to get in behind.
He started the game in explosive fashion as he delightfully headed Arsenal in front with just his second touch of the game – the first of which was the kick off – but then hit a bit of a lull leading into and after the break.
The introduction of Giroud in the 67th minute saw him jolt back into life, though. Having a targetman alongside him to hold the ball up allowed him to link back up with Mesut Ozil and Ramsey and saw him get on the ball.
His talent is obvious but a little bit of a mixed evening in terms of impact.
Sharp and smart, Leicester’s No9 terrorised Arsenal’s back three with his electric pace and direct running repeatedly penning them back.
He was either running at Arsenal’s defence or pulling into the space behind, floating in between all three and causing a nuisance.
His finishing for both goals was superb and his work rate, as it always is, was exemplary.
He’s now scored five goals in his last five Premier League appearances against Arsenal – clearly their bogeyman.
Continue in this storming form and Leicester won’t be exhibiting the troubles of last season.
2nd min (GOAL) – A dream debut for Lacazette as the £52million summer signing headed in an elegant opener. Arsenal switched the ball from left-to-right and Hector Bellerin cut the ball back to the supporting Mohamed Elneny who chipped the ball into the box first time for Lacazette to head into the left-hand corner from six yards out.
47th min – Lacazette played a big part in Arsenal’s equaliser, although inadvertently, as Mesut Ozil fed the ball to the Frenchman inside Leicester’s box in first-half injury time and as he lost his footing, the ball squirmed to Sead Kolasinac who rolled the ball to Welbeck for a tap in.
83rd min – Kasper Schmeichel made a great save to deny Lacazette after he slalomed his way into the box and from the resulting corner Giroud’s towering header struck the bar and bounced over the line.
29th min (GOAL) – Vardy damped Lacazette’s debut party as he put the visitors 2-1 ahead. Marc Albrighton, rampant on the left for the Foxes, surged forward in the space left by Arsenal’s compact back three and whipped a wicked ball across Arsenal’s six-yard box. Vardy adjusted his feet well to get in front of Kolasinac and nail the ball from close range.
53rd min – An incredible piece of goalkeeping from Petr Cech kept Vardy away from his second as Xhaka and Elneny lost possession and with Arsenal players committed forward, Riyad Mahrez put Vardy in behind. He looked clean through until Cech timed his sprint to perfection and to slide the ball off his toes.
56th min (GOAL) – Horrendous marking from Arsenal gave Vardy the space he needed to head past Cech and put Leicester 3-2 in front. Mahrez whipped in a delightful corner and without any real aerial presence, Vardy rose highest to apply the finish.
Ozil gave him pretty poor service which resulted in a bit of a mixed performance but he took his goal and looked a real danger in the first and final quarters of the game.
Questionable if he can hold the line on his own but with Giroud alongside him looked far more comfortable.
A quintessential Vardy performance and he’ll be devastated not to be coming away on the winning side.
He’s picking up where he left last season off after a strong end to the 2016/17 campaign.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com
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