We're one day into the Englsih Premier League season and we may already have our match of the year.
Arsenal came back from 2-3 down to up 4-3 in the final 10 minutes against Leicester City at the Emirates to begin their season on a thrilling note. While the result brings worry about the Gunners ability to defend, it also provides a glimpse at the attacking juggernaut they have the potential to be this season.
One minute and 34 seconds was all it took for former Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette -- one of the players to watch in the Premier League -- to open his Arsenal account. The Leicester defenders didn't have their heads in the game yet, allowing Lacazette to find space between them. He applied a glancing header on a fine cross from Mohamed Elneny to score the first goal of the season. Arsenal finally broke the bank on a world class striker this summer, and he rewarded them immediately with a deadly finish.
This is how Lacazette announced his presence in the Premier League.- FF.Report (@felix_futball) August 11, 2017
That Celebration tho🔥⚽️🙏pic.twitter.com/bh5YF3rPkD
With Lacazette's opener, it seemed Arsenal might be off to the races. But it's rarely that easy for the Gunners.
Careless play by Mesut Ozil in Leicester's final third led to a corner and equalizer for the Foxes. Marc Albrighton played a short give-and-go off the corner and blasted an in-swinging cross that appeared to overshoot its mark. But Harry Maguire stuck with it, and played a header back in from the goal line. Arsenal keeper Peter Cech made the critical mistake of moving off his line presumably in an attempt to claim the ball, but instead just opened room for Shinji Okazaki to head home and level the score.
Leicester's second goal was also created by poor play by Arsenal in their defensive third, but this time it came with the ball at their feet. Exceptionally sloppy passing gave Albrighton the ball in stride on the left flank. With the defense out of position after the quick change in possession, he was able to deliver a screaming cross that met Jamie Vardy in stride, allowing him to apply a clinical finish for the 2-1 lead.
It took all of 30 minutes for Arsenal fans to return to panic and #WengerOut mode, but they were able to get a slight reprieve from it before halftime.
Desperate for a goal with the first half waning, the Gunners were able to force one into the back of the net via Danny Welbeck. Leicester was defending high in the box, and the Gunners were able to slip a trickling ball past their back line. Saed Kolasinac might have been offside, but the official didn't blow his whistle, and a simple pass to Danny Welbeck was all it took to level the score moments before the halftime whistle.
A little over 10 minutes into the second half, Vardy got on the scoresheet once again to take a 3-2 lead for his side, and once again poor defense on a corner cost Arsenal. No one touched Vardy as a Riyad Mahrez cross swung into the box. All he did to do was rise up and put a head to the ball to retake the Leicester lead.
At that point, Arsenal was forced to pour forces forward, a move that could well have backfired. Leicester thrives on the counter, and on a few occasions Vardy almost got a full steam ahead with nothing standing between him and Cech except grass. But the Gunners staved off each of the attacks. Eventually, Arsene Wenger brought on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud as subs and, man, did it pay off.
After playing the ball around the box on a corner, it fell to Ramsey in the box. The Welshman charged at goal and, as he always seems to do, came up with a crucial goal for the Gunners to level the match.
Ramse y equalises for Arsena l, 3-3 pic.twitter.com/W0IKuBSQnx- Terje (@ArsenalTerjex) August 11, 2017
And it got even better. Three minutes later, Giroud proved that even with Lacazette taking the spotlight at striker, he can still provide moments of magic. Off yet another corner, and off yet another header, the super sub flicked the ball over Kasper Schmeichael, smacking the bar and dropping over the line for a 4-3 lead.
Giving up those late goals has to hurt for Leicester, but the Foxes should be encouraged by this performance. They countered like they did in their Premier League-winning campaign. And without UCL fixtures to weigh them down, this should be a much more successful campaign than last year's.
There are a lot of nits to pick if you're Arsenal. The defense was atrocious for the bulk of the match, brought on mainly by two left backs -- Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal -- playing as central defenders. Those defensive woes could be solved when Laurent Koscienly, Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi, but it will be a worry in the interim. On top of that there were a handful of poor performances across the pitch. Ozil still appeared to be recovering from injury, and there will be a whole slew of fans crying to sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after his dreadful showing.
But it was a brilliant result for Arsenal. They had to dig deep and make multiple comebacks, and they did it without the aforementioned defenders, as well as talisman Alexis Sanchez. Yes, there's still a lot to worry about, but this win has to give Arsenal fans confidence they can win points from tough spots.
There are 274 days left in the Premier League season. If we can get a few more as good as the first, we're in for a helluva year.
Cy Brown writes about soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.