Olivier Giroud delivers from the bench as Arsenal leave it late to revive their day one fortunes and leave two-goal Jamie Vardy unrewarded. Here are our notes from Friday’s thrilling opening encounter.
Lacazette did enough on debut
A goal, three attempts, all from inside the box and three chances created: Lacazette enjoyed an effective and promising Premier League debut.
As last night’s Knee Jerk stated, we have to acknowledge that and welcome the fact that the Arsenal striker could eventually hand us an option of “downgrading” either Harry Kane or Romelu Lukaku.
It’s early days and the big two are yet to play, but Lacazette looks set to get the opportunities to possibly maintain his impressive strike rate in Ligue 1 that brought 28 goals in 28 starts in 2016/17. If he can show that potential, there is no question that his current 18.1% ownership will grow.
Kolasinac was playing centre-back, honest
Sead Kolasinac was perhaps even more impressive on debut.
We saw from the heatmaps from last season that the Gunners show clear bias to the left flank. That was doubtless due to the influence of Alexis Sanchez.
It was again evident in Friday’s victory in the absence of Sanchez, with Kolasinac a key figure contributing to Arsenal’s dominance down the left channel. His position on the night was far from that of a traditional centre-back, even one operating on the left of a back three.
The assist for Danny Welbeck’s second Arsenal goal summed it up. The Bosnian cropped up in the penalty area to get on the end of Lacazette’s deflected pass.
Kolasinac received 26 of his 51 passes in the Leicester City half. Rob Holding, Arsenal’s right-sided centre back, received 16 of 46 with 3 in the final third to Kolasinac’s eight.
Once Laurent Koscielny is available, and Shkodran Mustafi is considered for selection, Kolasinac will surely threaten Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the left wing-back role. At that point, he will become a major interest, regardless of Arsenal’s obvious frailties in defence.
Ramsey and Giroud press for starts
The impact substitutes fulfilled their roles perfectly for Arsene Wenger, and both Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey will now enter his plans for the Gameweeek 2 trip to Stoke City.
Ramsey for Mohamed Elneney will be the obvious move for the Gunners’ boss, although he may prefer the combative Egyptian against the Potters.
Giroud’s claims could be more of a factor. His presence would add physicality at set-pieces, something that Wenger may seek out given how easily Leicester City exposed them. Mark Hughes, Ryan Shawcross and Kurt Zouma will have noted that weakness.
If Giroud is considered for a start, that could even shift Lacazette to one of the two support roles in the 3-4-2-1. The Frenchman adjusted well to a role on the left when Giroud was introduced.
Xhaka puts Ozil in the corner
Arsenal were thankful for their own set-pieces in Friday’s encounter, scoring two of their goals from corner situations. They scored just nine in this fashion all last season.
There was a significant development in this area, with Granit Xhaka monopolising dead-balls, usurping Mesut Ozil.
Xhaka took just 21 corners last season to Ozil’s 143, but he was behind eight of the Gunners’ corners on Friday – leaving Ozil with just one. Clearly, plans have been revised in pre-season and, if Ozil has indeed lost corners, this is a factor to consider.
Ozil ranked second to Gylfi Sigurdsson for successful corners in the Premier League last season, converting 41 to the Icelander’s 63.
Interestingly, following his 10-point haul, Xhaka was the most transferred in player overnight.
The Vardy option has arrived early
The Foxes striker went into Gameweek 1 as part of just 5.4% of FPL squads but instantly offered a reminder as to his qualities and suitability as a third, perhaps even second striker option.
Vardy ended last season with 13 goals but scored eight of those from 13 starts from Gameweek 26 onwards. The late surge of form demonstrated that his achievements in 2015/16 could be rekindled; Friday’s goals underlined that further.
A Gameweek 2 home tie with Brighton now looks tempting, though few will managers will shift from the established heavy-hitter options for now.
Even so, Vardy has started strongly and, after last season’s malaise in the striker position; it’s welcome to see his form add to our options early on.
Equally, however, it means that Kelechi Iheanacho faces a task to break into the Leicester XI and fulfil his promise as a 7.0 option.