Arsenal Attack Overshadows Old Frailties

Filed under Editor's Picks, Premier League

The wait is finally over. The Premier League returned this year on a Friday, the first time it has done so in its 25 years. The opening fixture saw a Premier League classic, with Arsenal fighting their way to a 4-3 win at home that represented just the first time Arsenal have won on the opening day in the last 7 years.

Arsenal could not have prayed for a better start, as their fans were finally singing in unison, and within less than two minutes their record-signing, Alexandre Lacazette, scored a brilliant standing header into the bottom corner of Leicester’s goal. However, Arsenal were quickly pegged back with two goals from Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy. Both goals were indicative of past Arsenal teams: lazy defence. For all Arsenal were worth going forward, they were equally as deficient in the back. The goal from Okazaki to level the score was a quickly taken corner that saw the Arsenal players completely unfocused, leaving the entire back post open to attack. The second goal was no better as Arsenal conceded possession in their own half, and allowed Marc Albrighton to deliver a cross into Vardy who tapped the ball into the goal. These are goals that football fans have become to accustomed to seeing Arsenal concede.

Luckily, Arsenal were able to level the score right before the end of the half, and one would have thought Arsenal would come back with more defensive stability. Unfortunately, soon after the break Arsenal conceded a third goal, and again from a relatively harmless play. The ball was whipped in from a corner and Vardy attacked the ball and nodded it into the net. The corner exposed the weakness of Arsenal’s zonal marking, which has been often criticized over the past few years, and saw two Arsenal players let Vardy coast from the top of the box into an attacking position.

Yet, for all their defensive instability, Arsenal showed great attacking threat. They peppered Leicester’s goal throughout the match, and dominated possession. In past years, this match would have easily finished 3-2 or 4-2 in Leicester’s favour, just like Arsenal’s loss to Liverpool at home 4-3 last year, or their loss to West Ham at home 2-0 the year before. In this match, apart from the 5 minutes after Leicester scored their 2nd goal, Arsenal always looked hungry to win all three points. They played intricate passes around the box with great effect, had players run at Leicester’s defence, and produced a number of quality chances. What was even more encouraging for Arsenal fans was the fact that Arsene Wenger made positive changes, bringing on Ramsey, Giroud, and Walcott and switching to a back 4 in the middle of the game that saw Hector Bellerin take up an unusual left back spot and Oxlade Chamberlain an equally unusual right back spot. The gamble paid off, and Arsenal saw two of their substitutes, Ramsey and Giroud, grab the third and fourth goals.

While #WengerOut may have begun trending on Twitter within 30 minutes after kickoff, Arsenal fans will be singing tonight and praying that the return of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker, and Gabriel will help solidify their defense for the remainder of the season. Arsenal have followed their FA Cup and Community Shield wins with a vital opening day victory against Leicester, and will be hoping that this form continues. Whether Arsenal can challenge for the title remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that Arsenal today showed that their old frailties still exist, but that they may finally be better equipped to overshadow them.


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About Mab Turan

Passionate about the sport, avid Arsenal fan, and eager to analyze and study the game.

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