The premier league returned to our screens last night after 83 days of wait and it straight away lived up to the hype, the sting of strikes that we’ve missed and the stretch of saves that we loved to see, the agony of concession and the joy of victory powerfully restored as Arsenal filed out against one time champions Leicester at the Emirates with not so much changed in the complexion; Arsene Wenger present again for the umpteenth time on the league’s 25th anniversary and it was almost going to end in pains for him before his own substitutes overruled the orders.
Craig Shakespeare wrote same old script with a few exceptions, Hull import Harry McGuire replaced Huth in center back while James made his premier league start for the first time in over two years, it’s same of the same everywhere else as Vardy and Okazaki interchanged upfront. Arsene Wenger handed record signing Alexander Lacazette his debut as well as Saed Kolasinac and it took just two minutes on the clock for the former to register his first premier league goal with a smart header to beat Kasper Schmichael but it only lasted same number of minutes as a poorly timed Cech run conjured with Granit Xhaka’s laxity to hand Okazaki a free header for an instant equalizer.
It went from end to end but with Arsenal dominating largely henceforth but possession doesn’t always mean jack as a neatly threaded ball to Vardy from the left after another wayward Xhaka pass found Cech in no man’s land and Vardy wheeled away in celebrations.
Arsenal kept probing with no headway and was unlucky not to win a penalty when Morgan handled in the area with referee Atkinson in pole position to see. With probably the last strike of the half, a nice interchange from Arsenal involving the quiet Mesut Ozil, the bullish Saed Kolasinac and the much improved Elneny found it’s way to Welbeck who passed into an almost empty net to end the half same way it started. It didn’t take long after the restart for Shakespeare’s men to leap in front again, another poorly defended corner was flicked in by Vardy to the dismay of the home fans, the brilliant touch gave the England forward his fifth against Arsenal in three matches, something he’s only achieved with Liverpool. Arsene Wenger threw caution into the innocent wind, bled the skins and dared everything with a switch at the back and introduction of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, who remains the oldest member of the struggling bunch.
Off a set piece, Xhaka found Ramsey in the box, excellent first touch and boom! It was 3:3 with eight minutes to play, Shakespeare wanted it all, he sent on summer recruit Iheanacho and Ghanaian Amartey but it was Wenger’s substitute Olivier Giroud with the last say. Tugged and dragged but the big Frenchman still found a bullet header off the crossbar to hand Arsenal a nervy win on day one.
Theo Walcott could have made it safer but his touch let him down. One down 37 to go for the Gunners who rode on everything they had to start with three points albeit some ugly ones. For the Foxes, they were lucky with the goals and fought weakly at the end, Shakespeare probably needs to learn to fight for a point even from winning positions, but he lives to fight another day.