The Premier League could not have asked for a better opening game to the season than the one witnessed at the Emirates. From a spectator’s point of view, it would have been a brilliant game to watch.
However, for Arsenal fans, the mixture and to-and-fro of heartbreak and great joy usually felt throughout the duration of a season was felt in the space of 90 minutes.
Arsenal occasionally produced some beautiful build-up play, but lacked the ruthlessness that fellow title challengers possess.
After Lacazette’s early goal on his Premier League debut, which created a positive atmosphere around the Emirates, this positivity quickly turned to complaints with Okazaki’s almost immediate equaliser and then Leicester going ahead.
The substitutions made by Arsene Wenger were powerful. Both Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud were super-subs who came on and scored. If these late goals had not occurred, things would have turned bad at the Emirates.
Anyhow, there are many positives which can be taken away from Friday night.
The defence is not a mess
Firstly, it is worth mentioning that the defence against Leicester was makeshift at best.
The back three consisted of two left-backs and a youngster. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding looked shaky playing together and looked confused when defending set-pieces.
Nevertheless, Monreal is not a central defender and did the best that he could outside of his comfort zone.
21-year-old Holding looked shaky against Leicester, however he has also put in outstanding performances such as the FA Cup Final against Chelsea and has huge potential for the future.
The likes of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista must all still return.
Signing a central defender such as wantaway Southampton star Virgil Van Dijk, who has handed in a transfer request at St Mary’s, would be a huge signing with regards to the club moving forward.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that Arsenal’s defence will be much better organised once the likes of Koscielny and Mustafi return and both slot into the back three.
Fight very impressive and depth not seen before
The fight shown by the Gunners was very impressive and the substitutions made by Wenger were significantly effective and changed the game completely.
The depth of the squad which was illustrated was unlike anything previously seen by Gunners fans.
Lacazette looks ready for the Premier League
Alexandre Lacazette scored 28 goals in 30 games for Lyon last season, and in the build-up to the Leicester game, the Arsenal boss challenged the striker to maintain his record of scoring a goal every game in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old Frenchman quickly showed his fellow countryman that he is up to the challenge.
Danny Welbeck runs more than Lacazette and the 26-year-old is not a target man like Olivier Giroud. However, he can find space in the opposition box in a way which his other two teammates cannot. His header against Leicester was a great finish, but it must also receive plaudits for the fact that he found space with many Foxes defenders in the box.
Lacazette’s goal celebration, outstretching his arms, indicated that he will not be overcome by the pressure of being the Gunners’ main man.
Lacazette must ensure that he keeps this up, with his compatriot Giroud, who scored a brilliant header himself against the Foxes, very likely to maintain pressure on Lacazette to lead the line.
Ramsey stepping up to the plate
Aaron Ramsey went through a disappointing 2016/17 season, as he was regularly kept out by injury, before coming back to finish the season encouragingly by forming an impressive partnership with Granit Xhaka and scoring the winning goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
Once Ramsey came on in the 67th minute against the Foxes after starting the game on the bench, he made an instant impact by just missing a headed effort after a trademark run from deep, before making it 3-3 with a brilliant touch and finish.
At 26 years of age, this is the season when the Englishman must stay fit and consistently perform in every game for the Gunners. Friday night was a great start for the midfielder.
Arsenal are in ‘stagnation’ – Thierry Henry
However, on The Debate show on Sky Sports following the match, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was not quite so impressed with what he saw against Leicester, and said: “You can call it revolution or evolution at Arsenal, I call it stagnation.”
He said that eventually the Gunners would be found out if they were to consistently rely on winning by scoring four goals and conceding three due to the frailties in defence, and that no change had been seen.
The point was made about rectifying the defence and although many centre-backs were missing for this game, Arsenal conceded 44 goals last season and the former Arsenal striker is correct. The defence at the Emirates does need to be rectified in order for the Gunners to progress.
Although defensive frailties may exist, and the signing of a solid defender would be beneficial to the team, this first game was not a true reflection of Arsenal’s defensive capabilities and there are many positives to take away from this fascinating first game of the 2016/17 season.
Written by Sina Latif
Follow Sina on Twitter @_sina93
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