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Leicester lose out in opening night thriller

Arsenal 4:3 Leicester City

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Despite twice taking the lead, City went home with nothing from a thrilling season curtain-raiser at the Emirates, suffering a late collapse and losing 4-3 to Arsenal…

The last City player to score a winner at Arsenal was Mike Stringfellow, in 1973, so this trip is always made more in hope than expectation.
With Huth, Iborra and Drinkwater ruled out through injury, and Iheanacho not quite up to match fitness, it was difficult to argue with Craig Shakespeare’s first starting line-up of the season. Maguire made his debut in defence, and James started his first game for City in over two years.
However, less than two minutes into the 2017-18 season City found themselves a goal down. Elneny curled a cross into the area, and an unmarked Lacazette had time and space to direct a header past Scmeichel from ten yards.
But City responded well and were level just three minutes later. Albrighton swung in a cross from the left, Maguire nodded it back across from the goalline and Okazaki leapt the highest to head past Cech from close in.
In a lively opening spell there were chances for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Vardy as play swept from end to end.
A good passing move from Arsenal then ended with Welbeck having a goalbound shot blocked by Maguire.
Arsenal had the upper hand by this stage and threatened again when Kolasinac fired in a shot which Schmeichel tipped away at the near post.
But it was City who took a 29th minute lead with a classic break. Albrighton hared down the left and delivered a cross into the goalmouth, which Vardy sidefooted home from four yards, having slipped between two defenders.

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City pressed forward again, and this time it was Fuchs who delivered a good cross from the left, Okazaki going inches wide with his header.
Loud appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee Mike Dean who recognised that Kolasinac had been a yard away when he struck the ball at Ndidi’s arm.
But City didn’t make it to half time with their lead. After a scramble on the edge of the area Arsenal passed their way through City’s back line, but with the entire City defence appealing for offside, Kolasinac squared for Welbeck who steered the ball past Schmeichel from close range with seconds of the half remaining.

The second half started in more pedestrian fashion than the first, and City created the first real chance when a good ball forward from Mahrez saw Vardy outpacing two defenders, but Cech had timed his run well to come out and sweep up.
Vardy didn’t have long to wait for his second goal of the season, as City regained the lead in the 56th minute. Mahrez delivered a corner from the right and Vardy took advantage of slack marking to rise and direct a header in at the far post.

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Arsenal began to press forward and Schmeichel blocked a long range effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain and then smothered an effort from Bellerin at his near post.
The pressure then increased when Arsene Wenger introduced  Ramsey and Giroud to the action. Ramsey immediatley went close with a header, under pressure from Fuchs.
Craig Shakespeare made his first change in the 72nd minute, bringing on Amartey for Okazaki, before Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain both sent shots narrowly wide of the left hand post.
City were fighting a rearguard action, which Shakespeare attempted to relieve by bringing on Iheanacho for James, to give City more presence up front. But it appeared to backfire with the home side equalising in the 83rd minute.
A blatant handball from Ozil wasn’t seen by the referee and from the resulting corner Ramsey was allowed too much space on the right and had time to line up a shot past Schmeichel to level the game.
Worse was to follow two minutes later when Arsenal went ahead, Giroud winning a battle with Maguire to head home from a corner.
It was a heart-breaker for City and their followers, and despite throwing everything forward in five minutes of time added on, they couldn’t find a way through.

The winless run away to Arsenal now stretches to 44 years, but there was plenty to be optimistic about with this performance.

Craig Shakerspeare commented:  “We spoke about being compact and being a threat with the pace of Vardy. We executed that well. We’re disappointed to score three and come away with a defeat.”

Arsenal: Cech, Holding (Giroud 67), Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerín, Elneny (Ramsey 67), Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Welbeck (Walcott 75), Lacazette.
Subs Not Used: Ospina, Iwobi, Mustafi, Coquelin.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, James (Iheanacho 82), Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 88), Okazaki (Amartey 72), Vardy.
Substitutes: Chilwell, King, Hamer, Slimani.

Referee: M Dean. Attendance: 59,387.

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Leicester and Arsenal draw a blank

Leicester City 0:0 Arsenal

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Last year’s 1st and 2nd placed teams cancelled each other at the KPS on Saturday evening, though City had a stonewall penalty denied them in the 88th minute…

Claudio Ranieri made four changes to his starting line-up with Huth, Mendy, Okazaki and Albrighton in for Hernandez, King, Gray and Musa.
The City team were greeted onto the field by another superb Union FS tifo display, declaring ‘Champions of England’.

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Arsenal started well, and Sanchez and Cazorla both had shots blocked early on.
After a further spell of Arsenal possession without much threat, Morgan got a vital touch to a Bellerin cross with Walcott waiting to pounce in front of goal.
In the 26th minute Oxlade-Chamberlain made space for himself, cutting in from the left before curling a decent effort inches wide of the right hand post.
At the other end Vardy showed a burst of pace that set Albrighton up, but his cross was cleared.
On the half hour Cazorla delivered a free-kick from the left wing which beat everyone and was heading for the top right hand corner before Schmeichel tipped it over.
Three minutes before the break the home crowd were roaring for a penalty.
A cleverly angled ball from Mahrez sent Vardy in on goal down the right. Cech was out smartly to block, and the loose ball fell to  Drinkwater who appeared to be tripped by Koscielny, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on.
Goalless at the break.

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Although no subs were introduced for the second half, Ranieri was soon forced into a change when Mendy went over awkwardly on his ankle. After some treatment the debutante tried to carry on, but it was immediately clear that he couldn’t and he was replaced by King.
City were the better side at this stage, and Mahrez went past Coquelin with a brilliant stepover but was crudely brought down. Clattenburg didn’t deem the offence worthy of a second yellow and Mahrez’s curling free-kick brushed the crossbar.
Bellerin then sent a long range effort straight at Schmeichel.
The 67th minute saw City’s second substitution, with Okazaki, who had run himself into the ground, replaced by Ulloa.
City continued to press forward: Albrighton tackled Xhaka and sent Vardy in down the right. He bore down on goal but fired wide under pressure from Koscielny.
Gunners sub Ozil then beat Fuchs with a neat swivel down the right, but Walcott’s shot didn’t test Schmeichel.
Ozil’s introduction turned the game in Arsenal’s favour, with too much activity round City’s goalmouth for comfort, but sterling work from Simpson and Morgan kept them at bay.

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The game turned again on a City substitution, when Musa came on for Albrighton and injected new momentum into the game.
He did enough the seal the points with two minutes to go, racing past Bellerin down the left and heading for goal before the defender tripped him from behind. It was as clear a penalty as you could ever hope to see, but Clattenburg, with a clear view of the incident, inexplicably waved play on.
There was one more chance for City in time added on, when Mahrez capped a fine run with a shot saved by Cech. The rebound didn’t quite fall to Musa, who hesitated too long and the chance was gone.

This was a great improvement on last week’s performance and only Mark Clattenburg knows why City didn’t get a late chance to claim three points from the penalty spot.
Typically Ranieri refused to place the blame elsewhere:
“I am not a manger who says: ‘That was a penalty,’ that is crying. For me it is OK, the referee made a very good performance and for me a penalty is when the referee whistles. He didn’t whistle, so it wasn’t. They kept more possession. They were very dangerous, but not with the clear chance. We kept less possession, but we know this. But we created a lot more clear chances to win the match. It was unlucky. But I am very happy for our spirit, for the union of the team.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mendy (King 53), Drinkwater, Mahrez, Albrighton (Musa 86), Okazaki (Ulloa 67), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hernandez, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.

Arsenal: Cech, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Walcott, Sanchez, Xhaka (Wilshere 73), Cazorla (Ozil 73), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Giroud 78). Subs Not Used: Gibbs, Ospina, Chambers, Elneny.

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 32,008.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
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Leicester out-gunned by Arsenal

Leicester City 2:5 Arsenal

2015-16 arsenal home c

City’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of an impressive Arsenal side at the KPS on Saturday afternoon…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his starting XI with Albrighton in for Inler.
Arsenal made a worryingly easy breakthrough early on but Ramsey’s shot was blocked by Huth and Cazorla’s follow-up saw a well placed De Laet clearing off the goal line.
City than had a couple of chances: Schlupp’s shot being well saved by Čech, before Vardy’s low drive took a slight deflection which saw it hit the foot of the right hand post.
Vardy converted his next chance, in the 13th minute. Kante won the ball from Ramsey in City’s area and fed it to Drinkwater, who sent Vardy in down the right. A good first touch with his head saw him cutting in towards goal before sending a superb finish round Čech.
City almost went two goals ahead five minutes later, but Vardy’s header from an Albrighton cross hit the crossbar.
Arsenal then swept upfield and Walcott was sent clear of the defence by Cazorla and his low finish past Schmeichel, crept just inside the far post.

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There was a controversial moment leading up to the Gunners taking the lead in the 33rd minute. As City broke forward both Okazaki and Vardy were brought down but referee Pawson waved play on. Bellerín then raced down the right flank and delivered a low cross that reached Sánchez at the far post, and he slotted home from close in to give Arsenal the lead.
The ref then further enraged the home crowd when Okazaki was dragged over by Mertesacker, but loud appeals were once again ignored.

Ranieri brought King on for  Okazaki for the second half, though it didn’t really work for City who couldn’t match some of their fine first half play.
Arsenal were looking very strong and extended their lead in the 57th minute when a clever lob from Özil teed up Sánchez for a header past Schmeichel from close in.

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Ulloa then came on for Albrighton and he set up a chance for King who missed the target with an ambitious drive.
Kramarić entered the fray in place of Drinkwater, but the Gunners further extended their lead with ten minutes remaining.
Sánchez made some room for himself on the edge of the area, before sending a precise shot low to Schmeichel’s right.
City pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when Kramarić was denied by Čech but Vardy was on hand to curl home a fantastic effort.
But any thoughts of yet another comeback were dismissed when Arsenal broke again and Monreal set up Giroud for the visitor’s fifth.

City’s unbeaten record was over, but surely Arsenal announced their title ambitions with a superb display of football.

Ranieri said of his players: “They showed the maximum character. I understand it’s difficult to play a team who use one or two touches. It’s impossible, when you go to press they move the ball very quickly. The quality of the Arsenal players is a very high level. We tried to do our best and created good chances, some were unlucky, and it’s important how we react in the next match.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Kanté, Drinkwater (Kramarić 78), Mahrez, Albrighton (Ulloa 64), Okazaki (King 46), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Simpson, Inler, Dodoo.
Arsenal: Čech, Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Özil, Cazorla, Flamini (Arteta 21), Sánchez, Walcott (Giroud 80). Subs Not Used: Debuchy, Gibbs, Ospina, Chambers

Referee: C Pawson. Attendance: 32,047 (3,350).

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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