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MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 4 – 2 Leicester City

Arsenal (2) 4 Leicester City (0) 2

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Saturday, 13th August 2022. Kick-off time: 3.00pm

(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhāes, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Martin Ødegaard, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli.

Substitutes: Kieran Tierney, Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Nicolas Pépé, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Mohamed Elneny, Matt Turner.

Scorers: Gabriel Jesus (23 mins, 35 mins), Granit Xhaka (55 mins)

Yellow Cards: Takehiro Tomiyasu

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 50%

Referee: Darren England

Assistant Referees: James Mainwaring, Wade Smith

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR: Mike Dean; AVAR: Derek Eaton

Attendance: 60,033

In this 35 degree scorching heat, there is a massive expectation amongst our supporters that we feel that we can beat the Foxes here at the Emirates this afternoon, but having said that, we all know through sometimes bitter experience that the proof of the football pudding in the early weeks of the season is always in the eating. The early action of this game didn’t appear to suffer too much from the oppressive heat, with both teams being more than active in both penalty areas. If anything, Arsenal have the edge over Leicester City as they are able to soak up the pressure from the visitors and are confident enough to move out quicker on the break. After eight minutes, Oleksandr Zinchenko’s through ball to Thomas Partey was neutralised fairly easily by the Leicester City defenders, however, which was a chance missed, sadly. A few minutes later, the Foxes showed their mettle when a lively solo run by Wesley Fofana ran unchallenged into the penalty area, but Aaron Ramsdale came to the rescue, which was a relief. The match started to turn in our favour quite dramatically at this point with the vast majority of the match being played in the Foxes half, as it seemed that it was only a matter of time before we opened the scoring. After twelve minutes, a free-kick was whipped into the Leicester City penalty area and Gabriel Jesus got his head to it, but sadly his sterling effort flashed into the side-netting. The confidence in our team was good to see; Gabriel Martinelli was held back by Wesley Fofana as he bore down on goal, which resulted in a well-deserved yellow card for the Leicester man. Despite the heat, we controlled the game admirably and as our probing strikers were firing dangerous crosses into the Foxes’ penalty area, it was Granit Xhaka who came unbelievably close to opening the scoring with a strong header, but Danny Ward just tipped the ball onto the post, but sadly Oleksandr Zinchenko whacked it over the bar from close range, as he followed in. Just before the drinks break, we took the lead quite deservedly when Gabriel Jesus’ superb right footed shot from the left side of the penalty area hit the top right hand corner of the net, flying past Danny Ward in the Foxes’ goal, and a contender for the goal of the month undoubtedly. The Emirates is rocking, our supporters are buoyed up, and the players are responding accordingly with classy play, pressurising the visitors constantly, who, with no obvious leader out there, are starting to look decidedly lacklustre. Our team were piling on the perssure with exciting play, and ten minutes before the half-time break we got our reward for match domination; Gabriel Jesus grabbed his second of the afternoon with a beautiful header from extremely close range to the top right corner following an Arsenal corner. The Gunners are flying now, but suddenly we got caught on the break and unbelievably, and totally against the run of play, referee Darren England gave a penalty for the visitors when minimal contact between Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy and Aaron Ramsdale clipped more than collided; Mike Dean, in the VAR room at Stockley Park requested the referee to take a look at the pitchside monitor, and having done so, cancelled out his original decision, and quite rightly so, it has to be said. In the four minutes’ injury time, probably as a result of the penalty that never was, the atmosphere in the stadium and among the players was rather flat, it had to be said.

The second half started with much expectation and excitement from the Emirates’ crowd, and for the first seven minutes or so, it was fairly pedestrian stuff; that was, until William Saliba, under pressure from Jamie Vardy headed the ball past Aaron Ramdale and into his own net. Tragedy for the young man; it mattered not, as two minutes later, Gabriel Jesus slotted the ball to Granit Xhaka, who confidently struck the ball from the centre of the Leicester City penalty area into the centre of the goal. Not resting on their laurels, the team came back at the Foxes with vim and vigour; Thomas Partey (assisted by Gabriel Martinelli), struck a strong right footed shot from outside the penalty area which went narrowly past the left hand side of Danny Ward’s goal. Attempt after attempt came forth, but we went into the drinks break slightly frustrated, but overall happy with the result so far. The drinks break appeared to change things somewhat; firstly Kelechi Iheanacho’s shot narrowly flashed by Aaron Ramsdale’s post, but unbelievely a couple of minutes later, James Maddison snatched a second goal for the Foxes, but wait a minute! After Ben White being substituted by Takehiro Tomiyasu, it became a case of anything you can do, we can do better. Gabriel Jesus jinked and turned a defender, passed the ball to Gabriel Martinelli, whose left-footed shot from outside the Foxes’ penalty area flashed into the bottom right hand corner of the net. With thirteen minutes of this exciting game remaining, Oleksandr Zinchenko was replaced by Kieran Tierney, and onward we marched. Bukayo Saka almost scored our fifth of the day, when his low, left-footed shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area was saved by the Leicester City goalie. Mikel Arteta undertook a double substitution with Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah replacing Bukayo Saka and our two-goal hero Gabriel Jesus with around eight minutes of the game remaining. Thomas Partey hit the base of the post with an excellent shot that saw him swivel and strike the ball after a corner kick, and as the match entered its final stages on this incredibly hot North London afternoon, our desire to score yet more goals was evident to for everyone to see. In the five additional minutes injury time, Takehiro Tomiyasu received a yellow card for a silly tackle, but still we came forward looking for more goals and glory today; but it was not to be, as the final score of the game remained as it was.

A superb performance from the boys today, and an impressive debut from Gabriel Jesus too! So many good points from the team, it would be hard to pick just one, but if anyone did impress above and beyond the call of duty, it was Gabriel Jesus of course. William Saliba was desperately unlucky with regards to the own goal, but aside from that, his home debut performance was also excellent. The first home game of the season was certainly one to remember, let’s hope that the performance at the Emirates today was one that will be replicated throughout this season.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, 20th August at 5.30pm. Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon

Onwards and Upwards with Mikel Arteta’s Red and White Army

Morning all.

A very brief blog today as I am heading out early doors for our first home game of the season. Today feels like an Alwyne kind of day.

I would not expect the team to be much changed from last weekends win over Crystal Palace. In fact I expect it to be the exact same starting XI.

One area that Mikel Arteta needs to improve on is the use of his squad.

In the second half of last season he used the same core of 12 or 13 players and basically ran them into the ground. This led us to fall off due to exhaustion towards the end of the season.

You have to wonder if things would have been different if he trusted Eddie Nketiah or Mohamed Elneny earlier? Or gave a run out to Nicolas Pepe which would have given Bukayo Saka a rest.

I guess the argument is that in the second half of last season we chose to cut the squad down to the bare bones and Arteta did not have enough players that he could trust.

The acquisitions of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira gives the club more depth at left back & central midfield (Zinchenko) and in attacking midfield & out wide (Vieira). Whilst William Saliba coming back off loan gives us a 3rd quality defensive option.

Some will say we still need another right back. I just can not see this happening taking into account how highligh Brooke Norton-Cuffy is rates within the club.

The 18-year-old signed a new long-term deal yesterday and will be expected to be loaned out to a Championship side. If he continues his development I expect him to be part of Arsenal’s first team squad next season.

Considering Djed Spence cost that lot up the road £19million, Norton-Cuffy could save us a lot of money.

I think we still need to strengthen outwide.

We have Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe. the later of which is not trusted.

Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira can also “do a job” out wide but will be needed regularly in their primary positions.

If we are talking about increasing strength in depth to take strain off players, then we should not consider Jesus a winger.

I still maintain we will not be in for Youri Tielemans. I just can not see the deal happening when we have quite a few “number 8s” now in Martin Odergaard, Granit Xhaka, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Emile Smith Rowe.

Two games into the season, it is a bit too early to be resting and rotating so I expect the same line up as Palace.

Expect Kieran Tierney to make another cameo off the bench and get 30 minutes under his belt whilst Vieira will come in with 10-15 to go.

Onwards and upwards following Arteta’s Red and White Army.

Keenos

Leicester City, Aubameyang & £7.50 a pint

Leicester City

Once one of the best run clubs in England – which led them to winning both the Premier League and FA Cup in recent years – the bubble looks to have burst at Leicester City.

Recent accounts showed their wages were 105% of turnover. This means they were spending more on wages than they earned. And does not take into account all other expenses.

This has led them to still not signing anyone this summer and captain, leader and legend Kasper Schmeichel departing.

Things could get a lot worse in the coming weeks as Wesley Fofana, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans are linked with moves away.

Often in football you hear the saying a “club needs to sell before it can buy”. In Leciester’s case, they need to sell just to balance the books. It is unlikely any of the above mentioned sales will free up cash to purchase replacements.

Leicester are a warning to all clubs not to over spend just because you have a temporary high (looking at you West Ham).

A couple of consecutive seasons in the Champions League or Europa League might make you think you’ve made it, but if you then give out long term contracts based on remaining in those competitions it cane quickly go wrong.

Europa Conference for Leicester last season and no European football this season means that they do not have the money to pay the contracts signed when they did have mid-top level European football.

The seasons will only get rougher for our opponents tomorrow.

Aubameyang

If you have not watched Arsenal All or Nothing, look away now as the below contains spoilers.

Anyone that has watched it will understand exactly why Aubameyang was stripped of the captaincy and then allowed to leave to Barcelona on a free transfer.

When your employer has a folder of disciplinary issues on you, clearly you are the problem.

It is unbelievable that some fans still back Aubameyang and blame his demise on Mikel Arterta’s “poor management”.

It was not poor management that leds Aubameyang to be consistently late to training – and even not turn up. Nor was it Arteta.s fault that Aubameyang – despite being in his 30s, the captain and a senior player – decided to still be the class clown.

If you look back at Aubameyang’s history, he acted in exactly the same way at Dormund. A quick google of the key words “Aubameyang discipline” will bring up countless different examples which eventually led to the German club suspending him.

He is clearly a bad egg who does what he wants with little disregard to management. And anyone who has worked with a character like Aubameyang will understand how poisonous it can be.

£7.50 a Pint

This week some pictures of West Ham’s pint prices went viral – £7.50 for a (plastic) glass of the amber nectar.

Tomorrow we might find that Arsenal’s prices have gone the same way.

Food and drink prices are most clubs are not set by the actual club but by the company they sub-contract refreshments too; Arsenal and West Ham both use Delaware North.

This means what happens at one club is likely to happen at another.

At Crystal Palace last Friday my pint of Heineken at half time was £5 – it was my cheapest pint of the day.

£7.50 will be enough to put me off grabbing a quick pint at half-time and will probably just encourage me to return to the pub quicker.

Keenos