Here we were, going into a game on the cusp of 10 successive wins in a row in all competitions, but even though we’d been performing brilliantly lately, that didn’t stop the nerves from kicking in. Leicester City were not to be underestimated in my books, as we’ve seen from last seasons opener, that they can really give us a run for our money. Especially with Jamie Vardy in their squad, who is always a threat. One player to also look out for in their squad was James Maddison, who’d been having a fantastic season for the Foxes so far, and let’s not forget Leicester’s rock at the back, Harry Maguire, who had a great World Cup as well. But none of these players could deliver in the end… fortunately for us.
The game started and I noticed that we put out a pretty strange line up for this one. I knew that Stephan Lichtsteiner could play as a left back for us but when I checked our subs bench, there was no sign of a back up left back. No Monreal. No Kolasinac. That was a bit worrying for me, but I had full confidence that Lichtsteiner would handle things on the left for the duration of the game. Further up the field I was surprised to see that Aubameyang was left on the bench and that Mkhi and Özil (whose captaincy also surprised me a bit) were starting together. Leicester started off really well, as their pace up front was really testing our back line, and forced our new German keeper into a couple of good saves. Rob Holding also contributed with a block, but also racked up a yellow card early on. He was then later involved in a ‘hand ball’ incident that could’ve conceded a penalty and seen him sent off, but luckily for us the ref made nothing of it and deemed the hand ball accidental.
But Leicester never gave up and their telling pace soon paid off when Chilwell stormed down the left, beating Lacazette and Bellerin for pace and putting in a cross that deflected off Bellerin and into the Spaniards own net. Bellerin did well to keep up with him, but that’s worrying stuff from the someone who’s considered the fastest defender in the Premier League. 1 – 0 to Leicester City and the Foxes’ hopes were running high. This sent Arsenal into a higher gear, who pressed forward to get the equaliser for the rest of the half. Some silky passing and link up play between Özil and Lacazette almost set Iwobi up, but his shot was tame and Schmeichel was able to hold onto it. That didn’t stop us though, as our German play-maker stormed forward again, this time collaborating with Bellerin on the wing, who made up for his own goal by cutting back an accurate, pacey ball that Özil latched onto and placed “so seemingly easy” into the bottom left corner of Leicesters goal. 1 – 1 the score going into half time, which would’ve changed Emery’s mood and half time talk.
The boys came out again more confident but Leicester once again gave us a scare early on, hitting the crossbar from a powerful Ndidi header. The boss decided to bring on Aubameyang in the 60th minute, and what a substitution that turned out to be. He also brought Guendouzi on for Lichtsteiner, which confused me immensely. Who was going to play left back for us for the next 30 minutes? Well it seemed Xhaka was put there which gave me flashbacks of the days Wenger played a whole bunch of players out of position… and this scared me. But the Swiss held his own in that position, and didn’t do too badly. I also couldn’t help but notice how neat Aubameyangs hair was on the day! But I digress…
Aubameyang made an instant impact to the game, scoring only 2 minutes after he was brought on. Özil somehow took 5 defenders out of the game with a beautifully disguised through ball which Hector Bellerin read and ran onto. The Spaniard then put another great ball into the box which Aubameyang so coolly finished off to put the Gunners 2-1 ahead. And the style didn’t switch off there, in fact, it got better… Merely 3 minutes later, Arsenal put together one of the finest team goals again this season, which saw 16 passes completed before Aubameyang put the ball in the net for a second time. Our captain for the match, Mesut Özil, at the heart of it again, dummying the ball for Lacazette, who played the perfect pass behind the defence back to Özil, who so unselfishly squared the ball with the outside of his boot to Aubameyang who put it in the net. Leicester were left dumbfounded and lost, and Arsenal were on a high. Özil had one more part to play though later before being subbed off, running onto a silky ball played in by Iwobi, and cut it back to Lacazette, whose shot was saved by Schmeichel. Mesut Özil was by far my man of the match the stand out player of the day, and as he came off for Rambo he received a roaring standing ovation which he absolutely deserved! “Oh captain, my captain!”
Arsenal were in control for the rest of the match and Lacazette came close at the end again but frustratingly missed the target this time. The Frenchman unlucky not to have been on the score sheet for the day but I’m sure he’ll bounce back next game. Full time score ended as 3-1 to the Arsenal, marking it as our 7th win in a row in the Premier League and our 10th win in a row for all competitions. Outstanding performances from Özil, Aubameyang, Bellerin and Iwobi helped the team retain 4th spot in the league, only 2 goals behind 3rd place, after Chelsea drew 2-2 to United. Next up is Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, and on Sunday it’s Crystal Palace, where I’ll be watching the game with the lads down in Cape Town. Let’s make it 11 and 12 in a row, shall we?
Come on you Gunners!
- Written by Gunnercast ZA