Super-sub Olivier Giroud scores at death as Arsenal beat Leicester in thriller
Premier League, Emirates Stadium – Arsenal 4 (Lacazette 2, Welbeck 45’+2, Ramsey 83 Giroud 85) Leicester 3 (Okazaki 5, Vardy 29, 56)
Super-sub Olivier Giroud struck a late winner as Arsenal came from behind to beat Leicester in an unforgettable opening Premier League match.
Arsenal debutant Alexandre Lacazette gave his team a dream start with a goal after only 94 seconds when he met Mohamed Elneny's inch-perfect cross. Their joy was short-lived however, as Shinji Okazaki headed Leicester level only three minutes later.
Jamie Vardy - who has now scored five goals against the Gunners in his last six appearances – scored his first of the night after sliding in from Marc Albrighton's delivery on the half-hour mark, but Arsenal equalised on the stroke of half-time through Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring their third goal.Eurosport
Leicester’s heroes of 2015/16 teamed up to give Leicester a 3-2 lead after the restart when want-away playmaker Riyad Mahrez set up Vardy for his second of the match. But then Arsenal’s super-subs came to the rescue: Aaron Ramsey drew the scores on 83 minutes, before Giroud’s sublime header from Granit Xhaka's corner gave the Gunners all three points.
- 1. Defending was a problem for the Gunners last season – in fact, no other team in the top six conceded as many. Though Arsene Wenger smashed his transfer record with the signing of Alexandre Lacazette (who looks like he will be an almighty success, by the way), he has failed to address the key issue.
- 2. But, so what – you may say. Wenger now has a selection headache, such is the variety of options in attack. Olivier Giroud proves time and again that he deserves a starting place; Wenger just needs to find a way of playing him alongside Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez.
- 3. Leicester, meanwhile, were back to their vintage best – in attack, at least. Craig Shakespeare has found a way to connect Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. Now he just needs to find a way of keeping a hold of the Algerian at the club.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal): So many options, but the Swiss international deserves recognition for a splendid performance. Was on the receiving end of much criticism last season, but he looked a different player tonight. His two assists provided Arsenal with the victory.
2’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Leicester. It is a DREAM start for Alexandre Lacazette who scores on his Premier League debut after only two minutes! He meets a wonderful cross from Elneny, and his bullet header into the bottom left corner gives Schmeichel no chance.
5’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Leicester. Shinji Okazaki nods the Foxes level! Peter Cech comes for the cross and gets nowhere near it. Maguire heads the ball back across goal and the Leicester forward towers above Xhaka to head home. Was he offside though?!
29’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1-2 Leicester. Leicester take the lead, against the run of play! Marc Albrighton fizzes a fine ball across the face of goal and Jamie Vardy is in the right place to tuck it home. Arsenal’s make-shift defence is really struggling.
45’+2 - GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Leicester. Welbeck levels the scores on the stroke of half-time! Ozil plays a lovely pass to Lacazette inside the Leicester penalty area. The Frenchman scuffs his shot, but it falls kindly to Kolasinac who keeps his cool to set up Welbeck for a simple tap-in.
56’ - GOAL! Arsenal 2-3 Leicester. Who else, but Jamie Vardy? The Leicester forward is left unmarked to nod home from Mahrez's corner delivery. Unforgivable defending, but the Foxes won't care one bit! They're ahead, again!
62' - GREAT SAVE! Now it's the Leicester defence carved open, but Schmeichel is there to the rescue! Welbeck slips through Bellerin, but the Dane makes himself big to block the shot.
83’ - GOAL! Arsenal 3-3 Leicester. Xhaka chips a great ball to Ramsey, who is left unmarked at the back post. And the Welshman makes no mistake, hammering the ball into the far corner. Schmeichel had no chance. Can the Gunners find a winner now?
84' - GREAT SAVE! Arsenal smell blood and they're on the hunt for the winner. Quick feet from Lacazette inside the area but his shot is well saved by Schmeichel. Corner to follow though...
85’ - GOAL! Arsenal 4-3 Leicester. Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable - Olivier Giroud heads Arsenal in front with his 99th goal for the club! The Frenchman heads in from Xhaka's corner delivery, in off the crossbar. It's a fine goal.
- Arsenal was only the sixth game to see seven goals scored on the opening matchday of a PremierLeague season.
- Olivier Giroud has scored seven Premier League goals as a substitute since August 2016; three more than any other player. He has also scored his 50th goal for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium (all competitions).
- Jamie Vardy has now scored five Premier League goals against Arsenal; only against Liverpool has he scored as many (also five).
- Alexandre Lacazette scored with his second touch in the Premier League, with his first touch coming from kick-off. He has scored his first Premier League goal with his first shot and is just the seventh Arsenal player to score on his Premier League debut for the club.
- The last player to score a quicker goal on their Premier League debut was Thievy for West Brom against Crystal Palace on in August 2014; 36 seconds into his debut