Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Giroud leaves it late on opening day

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Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Giroud leaves it late on opening day

Olivier Giroud came off the bench to power home a late headed winner as Arsenal got off to a winning start in the 2017/18 Premier League season with a 4-3 win over Leicester City at the Emirates stadium on Friday, escaping a third successive opening day defeat.

Alexnadre Lacazette opened scoring two minutes after kickoff to become the seventh Arsenal player to score on his Premier League debut but Okazaki restored parity three minutes later before Jamie Vardy opened his season's account on the stroke of half hour to put the Foxes in front.

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Giroud leaves it late on opening day

Danny Welbeck came to the home side's rescue with a close range finish on the cusp of half time after being teed up by Kolasinac to deny the Foxes a half time lead following an eventful opening 45 minutes.

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Giroud leaves it late on opening day

11 minutes after the break, Vardy scored again - this time glancing a header in at the near post from a corner after being allowed to run into space by the watching Xhaka. With the clock winding down, Xhaka's inch-perfect pass found substitute Aaron Ramsey and the Welshman slammed home an angled drive to draw level.

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Giroud leaves it late on opening day

But the Gunners were not done yet - this time, Olivier Giroud thumped home a header from a Xhaka corner to hand Arsenal the lead, extending Leicester's winless run against Arsenal to 22 games.



UP NEXT

Ahead of other opening fixtures on Saturday and Sunday, Arsenal go to Stoke City - a place where they have struggled in recent years, winning just one of their past seven trips on Saturday, August 19 while Leicester return home as they welcome newly-promoted Brighton on the same day.

SETTING THE SCENE

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Giroud leaves it late on opening day

Fans at the game on the night paid tribute to Bradley Lowery, who passed away over the summer following a strong fight with cancer.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger made two changes to the Arsenal starting XI from Sunday's Community Shield win against Chelsea in a bid to escape another opening day defeats, having recorded defeats in their previous two seasons. Alex Iwobi was the man to make way for Mesut Ozil, who missed out with an ankle injury.

Summer signing Sead Kolasinac started in a three-man defence instead of Per Mertersacker. Kolasinac replaced the German, who suffered a facial injury, in the first half at Wembley. New £46.5m striker Alexandre Lacazette made his Premier League debut, leading the Gunners' line.

Leicester midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Vicente Iborra were unavailable because of muscle problems, meaning a rare start for Matty James who had not started a Premier League game in two years. Defender Robert Huth was recovering from ankle surgery so was replaced by summer signing Harry Maguire.

Kelechi Iheanacho, a £25m summer signing from Manchester City, was only fit enough to start on the bench, while compatriot Wilfred Ndidi who has been a key figure at the King Power stadium since his arrival from Genk in January.

FIRST HALF

Arsenal started the new Premier League season having won just one of their previous five opening matches - all of which were also home fixtures.

Arsenal's failure to finish in the top four of the Premier League for the first time in 20 years last season, not to mention the criticism Wenger has received from some sections of the Gunners support, meant the Frenchman could ill-afford to begin with a defeat.

Lacazette was perfectly placed to take advantage of Wes Morgan misjudging Mohamed Elneny's cross, flicking in a low header to become the fastest-scoring debutant in Premier League history.

That raised the roof at Emirates Stadium but things went sour as Leicester hit us with two sucker-punches. Leicester exploited sloppiness by the Gunners to go ahead, leading to murmurings of discontent among the home crowd.

And the mood ebbed and flowed inside the Emirates - with some of the familiar grumblings of discontent evident.

The visitors found joy down the flanks, exposing the Gunners' familiar defensive failings through Vardy's sharp movement and quick balls forward.

The atmosphere turned dark among the home fans after Vardy's first, the audible anger subsiding when Welbeck calmly rolled in Saed Kolasinac's cut-back to go into half at level.

SECOND HALF

After the break, Vardy restored the Foxes lead, with Wenger left to look on anxiously from the dugout before eventually appearing on the touchline when he introduced Ramsey and Giroud after 67 minutes.

Their rapid breaks were reminiscent of their title-winning side of two seasons ago, as was their clinical finishing: the Foxes scored with each of their three efforts on target.

Unfortunately for the 2015-16 champions, it was their own lapses of concentration which could not keep Arsenal out at the other end. Led by captain Wes Morgan and new signing Harry Maguire, Leicester remained resolute in the second half until Arsenal's pressure eventually told.

But Arsenal turned it around in a frantic last 10 minutes. Aaron Ramsey hauled them level with a firm finish from Granit Xhaka’s delightful pass, and Giroud shrugged off his marker to power a header in off the crossbar as the Gunners came from behind to win a seven-goal thriller on the opening day of the season.

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