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Arsenal edge 7 goal thriller


Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City

Premier League 17/18 season

Emirates Stadium – 11th August 2017

Review

The first Premier League game of the season was very exciting. And for Arsenal fans, a boon amidst recent opening day results.

Though it’s a mixed bag of emotions and thoughts.

Arsenal have lost three of the last four opening games, all at home incidentally. Leicester City was looking to improve on last season’s poor form, though new boss Shakespeare had improved things after Ranieri left.

Nonetheless, as Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis said, we needed to see a “catalyst for change” at the club. Will we see it? Did we see it? In parts, possibly. However, the old phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” applies here.

First half

This was pretty topsy-turvy, though started very well for Arsenal as Lacazette got off the mark. A lay off by Bellerin, and a cross from Elneny was met with a directed header from Lacazette to open the scoring.

Poor defending re-emerged though, as Leicester equalised shortly afterwards. A corner was not properly defended, and Okazaki was able to nod in from close range.

Arsenal probed more, though were behind when the defence failed to pass the ball from the back, leading to a cross and a Vardy goal.

This was matched by poor defending on Leicester’s part too, as Welbeck managed to beat the offside trap amidst bad Leicester marking, and equalise before half-time.

Arsenal looked good going forward, with Lacazette’s home debut marked by a goal from him. However, many of the old frailties re-surfaced, leading to a mix of excitement and frustration.

Second half

Arsenal looked a bit jaded as the half started, with several misplaced passes. Leicester though scored, again due to poor defending. They gained a corner on their right, which Vardy scored from virtually unopposed. They had further chances, with Mahrez and Vardy again going close.

A turning point was, perhaps, Wenger changing from a back three to a back four. Giroud and Ramsey came on as subs, and the game changed somewhat. And Wenger’s gamble paid off, as both scored late goals. Ramsey took advantage of lax defending, and beat Schmeichel from close range. Giroud’s header was from a corner on Arsenal’s right, which crossed the line without the need for video replays.

So even though a new boy scored, it was the old guard that triumphed, or saved Arsenal many blushes and rants on Arsenal Fan TV….

Overview

Well….good for the neutral. But for Gooners, a weird mix of good and bad.

The good points? An opening game win, which has been scant in recent years. Lacazette scored on his home league debut. Many players had good games, such as Bellerin, Ozil, Ox, Lacazette, Giroud, and Xhaka. Arsene Wenger showed some degree of tactical flexibility in altering the system in the second half.

The bad points? Poor and abominable defending, which was the cause of all goals conceded. Is it the players? Are they not good enough? Cech has won many trophies and international caps in his career. Mustafi is a World Cup winner, and Koscielny played in the Euro ’16 final. Bellerin is apparently good enough for Barca, and even Mertesacker was part of the same Germany World Cup winning squad. So it’s not a matter of lacking quality. Holding and Chambers were part of the U-20 and U-23 England squads, both of which did reasonably well in their respective tournaments lately. It must be organisational issues, which begs the question if the defenders are being adequately coached.

It’s wrong to cite this as a one-off, since it simply isn’t. It’s been happening for years, and it’s a problem that can be corrected easily.

Still, a win is a win, and it puts us in good stead for the time being. We’ll see how well the other top seven do, though I suspect they will all get decent results.

Despite the win, there are some lingering and persistent issues that need to be sorted out. People often wonder why Arsenal fans moan. Well it is points like these. All teams with to see advancement, and not being in stasis. If the same issues are re-occurring, then it means something is wrong somewhere.

Still, it’s not about being negative. But any top team, or aspiring team, needs to iron out the cracks/flaws and not be stuck in a limbo.

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