Goalscorers: Alexandre Lacazette 2, Shinji Okazaki 5, Jamie Vardy 29, 56, Danny Welbeck 45, Aaron Ramsey 83, Olivier Giroud 85
Arsenal: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding (Olivier Giroud 67), Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Mohamed Elneny (Aaron Ramsey 67), Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck (Theo Walcott 75)
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Christian Fuchs, Harry Maguire, Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson, Matty James (Kelechi Iheanacho 82), Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton (Demarai Gray 88), Riyad Mahrez, Shinji Okazaki (Daniel Amartey 72), Jamie Vardy
Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 59,387
The first match of the 2017-2018 Premier League season was held on a Friday night for the first time in the competition’s history and it was a battle between two of the league’s six previous champions. Three-time winners Arsenal welcomed 2016 champions Leicester City to The Emirates Stadium and it proved to be a blockbuster start to the new campaign.
Just 94 seconds were played before Arsenal went into the lead. Leicester skipper Wes Morgan misjudged the flight of a cross by Mohamed Elneny and Alexandre Lacazette guided his header into the bottom corner of Kasper Schmeichel’s net. Lacazette was the new club-record signing and became just the seventh player to score on his Premier League debut for Arsenal.
The lead didn’t last long though. Just three minutes later, the Foxes were level. Harry Maguire won a header at the back post and with Petr Cech caught in no-man’s land, Shinji Okazaki headed into an unguarded net to bring the visitors level. Leicester were showing signs of the devastating counter-attacking displays that took them to their shock title triumph two seasons earlier and took the lead just on 29 minutes. Marc Albrighton delivered a vicious diagonal ball across the face of the Arsenal goal and Jamie Vardy arrived to dispatch the ball past Cech.
It was a pulsating first half and just before Craig Shakespeare could get his team into the dressing room to praise them for coming from behind after such an early blow, Arsenal pegged them back. Debutant Sead Kolasinac cut the ball back for Danny Welbeck to finish. The action continued into the second half. Vardy grabbed his second of the evening, showing more demand in an aerial challenge with Nacho Monreal to guide Riyad Mahrez’s corner into the net. Whilst the shooting was superb, some of the defending from both teams was dreadful. However, this made the game a classic.
With the fans starting to show their frustration, Arsene Wenger turned to his bench to revive his side’s fortunes, bringing on both Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. The substitutions had the desired impact. With seven minutes remaining, Ramsey levelled the scores although Leicester were furious that referee Mike Dean missed a clear handball from Mesut Ozil in the build-up to the goal.
Moments later, Giroud rose highest to meet Granit Xhaka’s corner and his header crept across the goal-line. It was enough to win the match for Arsenal and as they had 27 shots on-goal and 70% possession, they just about shaded the contest. However, it was a thrilling start to the season and a tough act to follow for the other 379 matches in the 2017-2018 campaign.