Hits and Misses: Leicester (h)

Arsenal kept up a perfect start to the season with a 4-2 victory in their home opener against Leicester. Brendan Rodgers’ men put up a fight and forced moments of discomfort, but could not overcome a double from Gabriel Jesus and strikes from Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli. The result means that at the time of writing, Arsenal sit in second place in the Premier League table. Below are three Hits and three Misses from a successful and sunny afternoon at the Emirates.


Gabriel Jesus

With two goals and two assists, Jesus was involved in every Arsenal goal and the obvious choice for Man of the Match. The Brazilian was an absolute force of nature on Saturday, frequently getting into dangerous areas and generally making himself a nightmare for the Foxes’ defenders. He combined well out wide with his teammates on the left, and also had a terrific run from the right wing that he almost scored yet again from. He finished with two goals, but he honestly could have had four or five. Jesus is blossoming at center-forward, and truly appears to have unlocked the Gunners’ attack.

Gabriel Martinelli

Martinelli continued his impressive start to the 2022-23 campaign with another goal against Leicester. It was the Brazilian’s whipped-in corner kick that Jamie Vardy accidentally headed into the path of Jesus compatriot to nod in from point-blank range. He also had Wesley Fofana on toast to the point that Chelsea might reconsider paying £80 million for the Frenchman. But perhaps most impressive was Martinelli’s energy and dynamism. He pressed and harried the Foxes all day, and started the move for his well-taken goal by intercepting the ball in midfield. Many predicted that this season would feature a Martinelli breakout, and so far he has supported that theory.

Granit Xhaka

Ending the afternoon with a goal and an assist, Xhaka has apparently taken offense to claims that he can’t adequately play as a left-sided eight. The Swiss midfielder repeatedly got into Leicester’s penalty area, either arriving late or even making runs for his teammates to find him with passes lofted over the Foxes’ back line. He reaped the rewards for it too. He set Jesus up for the Brazilian’s wondrous first goal before slotting the ball into an empty net after Danny Ward fumbled an easy catch. Xhaka also switched places periodically with Oleksandr Zinchenko, drifting onto the left wing while the Ukrainian took up more central positions. Once again, Xhaka is demonstrating that he can be effective in a new position.


Aaron Ramsdale

He had a good save when Fofana was in on goal and he put Jesus into a goalscoring opportunity with a tremendous downfield pass. But Ramsdale did not produce an assured performance in goal on the day. He unnecessarily rushed out to try to collect the ball off of Vardy, and was arguably lucky that VAR overruled the original penalty call that resulted. The English keeper also was beaten disappointingly easily at his near post by James Maddison for Leicester’s second goal. He has been great on the ball, but Ramsdale needs to improve between the sticks.

Arsenal’s right-sided attack

For the second match running, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard produced relatively quiet games. Thomas Partey was not particularly dominant in midfield. Ben White was far more productive at the back than he was going forward. As a result, it was Arsenal’s left side that created the lion’s share of their offensive output. This is not yet anything to worry about; there will surely be games where the opposite is true. But at the moment, the right flank does not appear to be clicking.

Winning by defending well

The hallmark of winning teams is the ability to score almost at will. Arsenal demonstrated that trait on Saturday, hitting Leicester for four. Two of those goals came within a couple minutes of conceding one themselves. With better attacking players than they have had in recent seasons, Arsenal take bigger risks going forward, committing more players up the pitch. Yes, this leaves Arsenal a little more vulnerable to getting hit on the counter, which we saw against Palace and Leicester. But this is the same gamble that the likes of City and Liverpool make. While Arsenal might concede annoying goals from time to time this season, they look set to score much more freely. And at the end of the day, goals win games, especially when you score four of them.

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