As engaging and unpredictable as ever, the English Premier League returned in emphatic fashion with Arsenal hosting Leicester City at The Emirates.
Gunners fans must have felt a sense of opening day déjà vu as Leicester City threatened to spoil their early-season optimism much in the same manner that Liverpool did 12 months ago, but a late twist was on the cards.
Substitute duo Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud turned out to be the heroes of the Friday night clash, scoring the decisive goals to steer Arsenal on track for all three points in a 4-3 shootout.
Caught in no man’s land for the opener, but was helpless to prevent Jamie Vardy from putting Leicester in the lead. Came off his line well when Vardy was put through in the second half, but couldn’t stop him scoring again from a corner. His evening certainly won’t read well on a statistical basis: he made no saves and was beaten with every attempt on target.
No-nonsense in his defensive approach and won more headers than any other Gunners player, but inspires little confidence when in possession. Taken off for Olivier Giroud as Arsenal chased the game.
Tasked with commanding the back three in the absence of Per Mertesacker. Was reasonable, winning a few headers and tackles, but can’t receive too much praise at the centre of a performance where Arsenal were breached three times.
An absolute brute in the challenge, winning the joint-most tackles of the evening. Tested the keeper with a decent volley after Alexandre Lacazette’s flick-on, and made the simple but correct decision to square up Danny Welbeck on the stroke of half-time.
Efficient with his ball use, keeping a tidy 88% passing accuracy ratio, but didn’t threaten Christian Fuchs often enough. Had a glorious opportunity to draw Arsenal level on 62 minutes, but fired straight at Kasper Schmeichel. Strangely performed much better when he switched to left wing-back.
Always positive with his direct and dangerous dribbling ability going forward – he finished the game with eight successful dribbles, the most by a landslide – and was reasonable in his defensive duties. Went close with a slightly deflected cross-turned-shot in the second half.
The pros and cons of the Swiss international in one game of football; sublime passing range, making the difficult seem effortless, but is susceptible to the odd loss of concentration. Two assists to his name, both of which were for the two late goals, but let himself down in the build-up to both of Jamie Vardy’s goals. Gave possession away carelessly for the first and allowed the Englishman to drift past him from the corner for the second.
Provided the early cross for Alexandre Lacazette’s opener and kept his side ticking by playing it simple in midfield and working hard defensively – winning four tackles. Arsenal needed another creative player on the pitch at 3-2 down, so he was hooked for Aaron Ramsey with 25 minutes left.
Saw plenty of the ball as Arsenal typically dominated possession. Allowed the freedom to roam where he saw fit, spray passes and provide the occasional run in-behind, but ultimately had little to no impact on the game. Seemed off the pace.
Scored one of the easiest goals of his career following a scramble in the box right near the end of the first half. Played a delightful ball to put Hector Bellerin through in the second half, but the Spaniard failed to convert the chance. Subbed for Theo Walcott with 15 minutes left.
Guided a crafty header into the bottom corner just two minutes into his Premier League debut, but struggled as Leicester settled into a deep and compact shape. Came alive late on with a twinkle-toed dribble and shot, but Schmeichel pushed his effort over the bar. Worked hard off the ball, too, laying on three tackles.
So close to emulating Alexandre Lacazette’s early goal by scoring with a header seconds after he came on, but nodded just wide. Converted his next chance with consummate ease, taking a perfect first touch and finding the side netting from an angle to level the scores at 3-3. Played in a looped ball over the top for Olivier Giroud that lead to the corner that Arsenal would go on to win the game from. Game changing substitution.
Arsenal’s super-sub strikes once again. Towered above the Leicester defenders to score the decisive header that went in off the crossbar, earning his side all three points. Always seems to be scoring important goals for Arsenal.
Brought on for the last 15 minutes but barely had a touch.