Subs: Ospina, Mustafi, Coquelin, Ramsey, Iwobi, Giroud, Walcott
Arsenal’s Premier League campaign got off to a winning start after what was a puslating 4-3 win over Leicester City at the Emirates this evening.
There was no Per Mertesacker after his injury against Chelsea, meaning Nacho Monreal was the man to anchor the defence with Rob Holding and Sead Kolasinac either side of him. Mesut Ozil returned to the starting line-up, and new boy Alexandre Lacazette unsurprisingly got the nod up front.
And what a start the Frenchman had to his Arsenal career, opening the scoring in the second minute. Hector Bellerin played it back to Elneny, he crossed it first time, and Lacazette held off Wes Morgan and planted a header into the bottom corner. 1-0.
The lead barely lasted two minutes when Leicester equalised after a short corner. The visitors kept the ball in at the back post, heading the ball back into Okazaki who rose highest with Cech in no-man’s land to head home. 1-1.
It was end to end stuff, with Oxlade-Chamberlain shooting over and then tamely into the arms of the keeper, while Leicester looked threatening whenever they came forward.
Danny Welbeck got on the end of a beautiful Arsenal move but saw his goalbound effort blocked by Harry Maguire. The England man caused more problems in their box but his pull back was cleared, before Schmeichel saved well from Kolasinac as the Gunners looked to go ahead again.
However, despite most of the possession and the chances, it was the visitors who struck again. Xhaka gave the ball away in midfield, Leicester crossed from the left, Vardy got between Monreal and Kolasinac to finish from close range. 1-2.
It might have been worse moments later when Okazaki headed just wide as the Arsenal defence struggled to cope with Leicester’s movement in the final third. The Gunners had to survive a series of corners and long throws as the first half drew to a close, but in injury time we found a way through to equalise.
Ozil played it to Lacazette in the box, he held it up, the ball rebounded to Kolasinac who played it to Welbeck who just about got the ball out from under his feet to stab it home and make it 2-2 at the break.
There were no changes from either manager for the second period, and Arsenal had the first attempt on goal, unfortunately Ozil could only drag his shot wide. Cech came miles out of his goal to make a timely tackle on Vardy, and more carelessness at the back meant the Arsenal keeper had to be alert to tip a Mahrez shot over the bar.
However, from the resulting corner Vardy was given a free header, and the England international put Leicester back in front. 2-3.
Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a shot saved by the keeper as Arsenal tried to respond, Bellerin had a great chance when played through by Welbeck only for Schmeichel to save, and Arsene Wenger made his first changes of the evening bringing on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud for Elneny and Holding.
It meant going to a back four with Bellerin at left back and Oxlade-Chamberlain at right back. Lacazette set up Ozil but the German’s shot was poor, as was his effort a few minutes later when he had a real sight of goal but again cut his shot wide. That prompted the manager into his final change, Walcott coming on for Welbeck with 15 minutes to go.
Xhaka had a shot deflect wide for a corner as Leicester sat ever deeper, and from another corner Arsenal fashioned an equaliser. The ball came out to Xhaka, he played it with the outside of his foot to Ramsey in the box whose first touch was superb, and lashed the ball home to make it 3-3 in the 83rd minute.
Seconds later Schmeichel denied Lacazette with a brilliant save, but from the resulting corner Arsenal went ahead from a brilliant Giroud header which went in off the underside of the bar. 4-3. Unbelievable stuff.
The game headed into five minutes of added time, with Leicester trying everything to get back into it. Kolasinac did an amazing double drag-back from inside his own half, Giroud got back to help out his defence and in the end what looked like a most unlikely win was ours on the opening day.