Olivier Giroud heads Arsenal to victory in seven goal thriller
Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City
Arsenal produced a stunning late comeback to beat Leicester 4-3 as the Premier League returned in thrilling fashion on Friday night.
Arsene Wenger’s men were 3-2 down with seven minutes remaining but goals from substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud stole the game from under Leicester’s noses.
Big-money signing Alexandre Lacazette took just two minutes to score on his debut but he was outshone by the visitor’s No 9 as Jamie Vardy scored twice against the team that came close to signing him last summer.
In what was a pulsating start to the new season, which was kicking off for the first time on a Friday, Leicester equalised within two minutes of Lacazette’s opener through Shinji Okazaki and then took a shock lead through Vardy.
Arsenal responded just before the break through Danny Welbeck but Vardy headed home from a Riyad Mahrez corner on 59 minutes. As the home fans started to become restless, Arsenal staged a late fightback with Ramsey and Giroud both finding the net from close range within two minutes of each other to send the roof off The Emirates.
Those that have been craving Premier League football over the summer were given a sweet release inside the opening five minutes with two goals – one at either end.
Lacazette averaged a goal every 86 minutes for Lyon last season in Ligue 1 but needed just two minutes to get his season rolling at a jumping Emirates Stadium.
Mohamed Elneny whipped the ball in from the right and there in the box waiting was the Frenchman, who stooped to divert a clever header into the far corner.
The joy inside The Emirates lasted just two minutes. Marc Albrighton sent a ball in from the right which new signing Harry Maguire did brilliantly to loop back into play at the back post. There waiting was Okazaki, who outjumped Granit Xhaka from close range to head home.
Despite Arsenal’s domination of the ball, Leicester were back to their title winning best on the counter attack.
They pressed high on 29 minutes and stole the ball off the Arsenal defence before moving it out wide to Albrighton. The former Aston Villa man caught Rob Holding napping in the middle with a tasty ball into the six yard box which Vardy gobbled up from close range.
You could feel the tension in the stands rising with every passing minute of sloppy Arsenal play. A goal was required and Welbeck stepped up just before the break to ease the restlessness in the stands. Mesut Ozil showed a fleet-of-foot on the edge of the box and the play developed inside the box before the German squared a fantastic ball to Welbeck – which took Kasper Schmeichel out of the game. The Arsenal striker couldn’t miss.
The equaliser presumably would set the platform for Arsenal to step on the gas in the second period, but it was the visitors that pressed on. Petr Cech had to be quick off his line to stop a surging Riyad Mahrez run before flying to his left minutes to push a long range effort wide from the same player.
Cech could do nothing to stop Vardy on 59 minutes – although his defence should have.
Mahrez slung over a near post corner which found Vardy in three yards of space. Nacho Monreal looked at Holding while Xhaka looked at Monreal. This left Vardy with the simple task of flicking home from eight yards out.
Arsenal looked nervous in their bid to equalise. It triggered Wenger to call from Ramsey and Giroud from the bench and they repaid their manager’s faith.
After a spell of pressure inside the Leicester box, Ramsey controlled at the far post and drilled the ball beyond Schmeichel with seven minutes left.
Arsenal now smelt blood and went for the kill.
From a right-wing corner Giroud rose highest to head the ball over the line, via the crossbar, with goal-line technology confirming the goal.
It sent The Emirates into delirium.
If you didn’t know already, the Premier League is back.
Both sides will be back in action next Saturday. Arsenal travel to Stoke City for a tough clash with Mark Hughes’ men while Leicester host new boys Brighton and Hove Albion at the King Power Stadium.