It’s been an exhilarating first weekend to the Premier League which has had everything, red cards, poor defending, great attacking, controversial decisions and of course, goals.
All this kicked off on Friday night when Arsenal faced of Leicester. As usual, there was a sense of optimism around the Emirates, but as we all know, all it takes is a goal to make that atmosphere toxic. For Leicester, it was a match where they needed to prove that they still have the swagger which won them the league a season ago. it couldn’t have been a more action packed match to kick off the Premier League, a truly Titanic affair, which could’ve gone to either team.
It just took under two minutes to get the Arsenal fans going as new boy Alex Lacazette scored with his first touch in open play. Then of course, Arsenal conceded and it was in the most Arsenal way ever, failing to defend the second ball in from a corner. To top it off, Xhaka’s misplaced pass allowed Albrighton to slip in a wonderful ball for Vardy. At this time, the Arsenal fans must’ve been thinking this was going to be the same story as the last few seasons but then on the stroke of half time, a glimmer of hope. Danny Welbeck easily chipped Schmeichel from very close range to bring Arsenal level at the break.
In the second half, Arsenal yet again conceded through a corner with poor defending, it’s almost as if they did not practice defending corners, really schoolboy defending. This really left the crowd wondering whether it was going to be a case of same again same again. It wasn’t, Arsenal showed character and Wenger made the right substitutions. Ramsey and Giroud’s introduction changed the entire dynamic of the game, Arsenal played more direct and it paid off. Giroud’s winner was actually my favorite goal of the game. A true centre forward’s goal, any striker would be proud of that as he bullied the Harry Maguire to head the ball home from a corner. Those efforts were enough to see an underperforming Arsenal see out Leicester and take all three points.
For Arsenal, it was as if 3 points were demanded from so early on and anything less would lead to a protest. They managed to get all three points but as they can see, there are some issues. That defence needs some sorting out! Defending from set pieces with this zonal marking system where no one seems to take charge needs changing or improving. The makeshift defence was vulnerable at times, which is why Arsenal need Koscielny back as soon as possible. Granit Xhaka was again the culprit in the defence, it seems as if for every 2 steps he takes forward, he takes one step back. His passing at times was risky and reckless, his defending from crosses also was weak as he stood his ground while Vardy made a run at him and also, Okazaki beat him in the air. On the positives, new boys Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac played quite well and seem to settle into the team well(Kolasinac’s performances will improve as he moves to Left Wing Back). Arsenal were as potent as ever in attack and it seems as if they have a charged up Olivier Giroud willing to make his impact off the bench. Also, they showed character to comeback from behind twice in this match.
As for Leicester, they must feel hard done by the result for two reasons, one that Ozil handed the ball before securing the corner that led to the third goal and secondly, they put in a really good performance. That performance reminded us of the championship winning team Leicester, an industrious performance with Vardy always latching onto long balls and chasing down defenders. Not too many teams would score 3 goals away from home and still end up losing the match. They do need to sort a few things out though. The defence needs to improve as Arsenal had 27 shots in total which is a number that may worry Craig Shakespeare. They also need to worry about Riyad Mahrez, as he seemed very off beat during the game, he was beaten off the ball by Sead Kolasinac a few times. It seems as if even when Leicester are at their best, they just cannot beat Arsenal. Even in their title winning year, they lost to the Gunners on both occasions.
Overall, this was a very entertaining game to start the Premier League. If this is the way it’s going to be all season, then I as a fan am very excited to see what the season has in store for us.