Arsenal vs Leicester - A game of two ends

by - August 15, 2017


Arsenal 4 - 3 Leicester city

Wow, this was an unbelievable advert for the Premier League. Defensive errors, speed, brilliant interplay, missed chances, super subs, goalkeeping errors, this had it all. Arsenal ultimately deserved the win for me, but a lot of the same old problems were still there. History repeated itself, with a late Arsenal goal breaking the Foxes' hearts for the third season running, however, the deficiencies defensively were evident for The Gunners. Every decent ball into the box from Leicester City's wingers, particularly Albrighton posed a threat, and while that is a credit to Leicester, it is concerning for Arsenal. And while Leicester did only muster 3 shots on target, much of the time it was a case of their players just missing out on connecting to a cross which could have posed problems for Arsenal. Yes, players were missing, however, Rob Holding is being put into the deep end on a regular basis far too early, a young kid like him will always have a dip in form. Fabregas had one, Bellerin did so last season, it happens and for me, he needs a loan move, ideally somewhere like Southampton, where he can come in and play, but without the pressure of playing for AFC. That being said, I felt that last night was only his second poor game for Arsenal, the other being a 0-2 reverse against Southampton in the league cup last season. Arsenal's problems are still organisational and at the risk of parroting a simplistic viewpoint, a nasty, big, well built "leader" is required, Virgin Van Dijk would be a perfect signing for the Londoners.

It is unreasonable to expect Arsenal to not improve with Koscielny, Mustafi and perhaps most importantly given the role required, Mertesacker returning, however, Arsenal fans are naive if they believe that will solve the defensive issues evident on Friday night, as this was a team that conceded more goals than the (rightfully) much maligned Liverpool defence last season, work on the training pitch is essential. Nevertheless, Arsenal going forward were superb, Mesut Ozil managed 6 key passes and was heavily involved, and despite being at fault for the second goal, Granit Xhaka more than made up for it with his two assists. The option of a 6"4 target man in Olivier Giroud also proved crucial, as well as midfield runners like Aaron Ramsey, who managed to wiggle free in the penalty area before brilliantly slotting away an equaliser, as for Giroud, he showed once again that his height, power and aerial ability nullify deep blocks and always give you hope if you can put a decent ball into the box, Arsenal must keep hold of him, they are a far easier team to defend against without him as an option. Leicester are an example of this, a counter attacking team who play with a very deep defensive line, and who have two brutes at centre back, regardless of what combination of  Huth, Morgan and Maguire is used, in 15/16, Arsenal were 0-1 down at home to Leicester before Giroud used his strength and chested down for Theo Walcott to make it 1-1, in a game AFC went on to record a 2-1 win it, in 16/17, his physical presence was a massive factor in Huth's own goal, winning the game for Arsenal, and he outright scored the winner with the classic "bullet header" on Friday night. Lacazette's movement also proved very difficult to deal with for Leicester, and while both were on the pitch, they were at panic stations.

Speaking of Leicester, they were exactly what you'd expect, ruthless when it came to turnover of possession, struck a balance between pressing Arsenal high up the pitch and being very well drilled defensively, and despite Arsenal "dominating" possession, they looked quite comfortable throughout the second half at 2-2 and 2-3 until Ramsey and Giroud came on, a lapse in concentration and brilliant finish from Aaron Ramsey punished them, before panic seemed to set in, a brilliant save from Schmeichel to deny Lacazette, who looked confident and sharp throughout, a second goal, however they could not deal with Xhaka's brilliant deliver and Olivier Giroud's brute strength, ultimately, once again at The Emirates, it was 5 minutes too far for them. Their counter attacking prowess was evident, but for me, they need higher grade full backs and a deeper squad to become a very strong unit once again. Ultimately, it was not a tale of two halves, but one of two ends. Attack vs Defence, Arsenal brilliant in one end, a shambles at the latter, Leciester limited in attack, but ruthless and with Vardy's pace, hunger and runs in behind, they were always a threat, defensively, they were excellent for large parts, but a lack of quality was evident. Kolasinac and Oxlade-Chamberlain were magnificent once again, however, Monreal proved must play as an RCB/LCB in a 3 ATB. Wenger must be given credit for very attack minded substitutions and taking a risk, and it paid off. Ultimately, a deserved, but sweaty Arsenal win. Both of these teams have decent fixtures coming up, with Leicester playing Brighton, although, they will not be able to play a counter attacking game like they did at The Emirates, and Arsenal away at a Stoke side who they thrashed 1-4 at The Bet 365 Stadium last season, although Stoke have improved with the signings of Kurt Zouma and Darren Fletcher.

What a way to begin the Premier League season! Long may it continue!

MOTM: Jamie Vardy. 2 well taken goals and a menace throughout despite being isolated at times.

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