Gunners opening night Foxes Thriller
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal had won each of their last ten Premier League home encounters with Leicester City, as the Gunners kicked off the new 2017/18 season with the Foxes on a Friday night at the Emirates, on August 11. It took Arsenal just two minutes to open the scoring as from Granit Xhaka’s ball to Hector Bellerin, a delivery by Mohamed Elneny, was headed into the bottom left corner by Alexandre Lacazette. But the Foxes reacted as from a throw in by Christian Fuchs, a poor header out by Elneny, was driven over by Riyad Mahrez. However the Foxes equalised in the fifth minute, when Marc Albrighton’s ball on the left was headed back from the right by line from Harry Maguire, and the ball was nodded in from Shinji Okazaki. Then on eight minutes from an assist by Mesut Ozil, a soaring left footed strike by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, flew over the upright. On fourteen minutes, after Ozil won the ball, a low drive from Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to trouble Schmeichel. Midway through the first half, after Ozil placed the ball to Danny Welbeck, the intervention of Maguire, averted the danger. In the twenty seventh minute, after Lacazette turned provider for Sead Kolasinac, whose left footed strike deflected off Foxes captain, Wes Morgan, and the ball was scooped behind by Schmeichel. But Leicester took the lead on twenty nine minutes, when the ball was given away by Xhaka, and a cross from the left by Albrighton, was hooked by Jamie Vardy past a stranded Arsenal keeper, Petr Cech. The Foxes pressed again four minutes later, as Rob Holding lost possession to Christian Fuchs, whose deep cross was headed fractions past the right post by Okazaki. Although Arsenal drew level on the stroke of half time, as a threaded pass by Ozil, was squeezed through by Lacazette, before the ball was put across by Kolasinac, and Welbeck bundled the ball past Schmeichel. Four minutes into the second half, from a Bellerin assist, the ball was turned past the right post by Ozil. On fifty three minutes, a long pass from inside his own half by Mahrez, required Cech to advance out his area and stifle the threat of Vardy. Two minutes later, the outstretched hand of Cech had to palm over the bar, a high rising strike by Mahrez. But from the resulting corner by Mahrez, a header by Vardy was turned past Cech, into the left side of the net, to put the Foxes 3-2 ahead. The Gunners went in search of another equaliser, as a ball over by Welbeck, was driven in by Oxlade-Chamberlain, against the body of Schmeichel, before the flag was raise as Lacazette followed up. On sixty two minutes, Schmeichel had to spread himself to fend away Bellerin’s effort, from a through ball by Welbeck. The Gunners later made a double change of Aaron Ramsey for Elneny and Olivier Giroud replacing Holding, and it was Ramsey who could have made an immediate impact as from a cross by Lacazette, a header by Ramsey spun wide of the left post. After Xhaka’s left footed shot was saved by Schmeichel, towards the bottom right corner, the Foxes soon changed Okazaki with Daniel Amartey. On seventy four minutes, from a Ramsey pass, a low drive by Oxlade-Chamberlain clipped the heels of Fuchs, and narrowly past the right post. After Ozil found the outside netting of the left post from a delivery by Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck was taken off for Theo Walcott. Soon afterwards new Leicester signing, Kelechi Iheanacho replaced Matty James. But it was Arsenal that made it 3-3, after the ball fell kindly off Morgan to Xhaka, whose over the top delivery was curled into the left side of the goal by Ramsey. But the Gunners exerted more pressure, as Ramsey combined with Giroud, before Schmeichel acrobatically tipped over a strike by Lacazette. Although from the resulting corner by Xhaka, a header from Giroud clipped the underside of the crossbar and over the line to seal a 4-3 victory for Arsenal in the eighty fifth minute. A late cameo role was given for Demarai Gray in favour of Albrighton, but the heroic efforts of the Foxes counted for nothing.