Any out of practice fans, looking for a quiet Friday night to ease themselves into the new season, were very much out of luck today, as Leicester City and Arsenal kicked the Premier league off with a frantic display, ending in a 4-3 win for the Gunners.
The signs were there right from the start. New signing Lacazette slipping away from Wes Morgan in the box to head his team in front just 94 seconds into the season. Hardly the strong start the Foxes were after.
The response, however, was exactly what manager Craig Shakespeare would have been hoping for. The Foxes pushed forwards right from the kickoff, putting Arsenal under pressure down the flanks. Marc Albrighton whipped in a good cross, finding debutant Harry Maguire at the far post. He put it back across the six yard box and Shinji Okazaki of all people popped up to head the game level.
From that point, the game almost completely unraveled. Arsenal looked unable to handle us at the back, but Leicester in turn couldn’t string more than a couple of touches together before giving the ball right back.
Albrighton was again the man to make a difference. He pounced on a defensive mistake and picked out Vardy with another fantastic cross. The England striker made no mistake, pouncing on the opportunity to put the Foxes ahead for the first time this season.
As the half wore on, things slowed down and Arsenal started to control possession inside our half. They looked pretty comfortable doing it, and eventually the pressure told, with Danny Welbeck coming free to poke home from short range, right on the stroke of half time.
After a poor first half, Riyad Mahrez came out looking to make a difference in the second. A good shot forced a corner, which the Algerian then took and picked out Vardy inside the six yard box. The Gunners’ defending was suspect, but Vardy did well to get in front of them and to put his chance away, restoring the Foxes’ lead.
At no point from then on did it ever look like 3-2 would be the final score. Chances were plentiful at each end and both sides made substitutions looking to change their fortunes.
While Leicester brought on Amartey for Okazaki, looking to hold out defensively, Arsenal pushed on with the introduction of Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. You’d have to say that decision paid off.
With just seven minutes to go, and shortly after a very good appeal for handball against Mesut Ozil, Ramsey was left free at the far post and made no mistake, putting Arsenal on level terms again. Once again, the parity didn't last long, but this time it was Arsenal who took the initiative, and Giroud wrapped up the game with a header from Xhaka’s corner.
It was an exciting game, the neutrals will have had a good time and both sides will take positives. Ultimately though, most, if not all, goals for both sides came from poor defending as neither team looked ready for the season at the back.