WATCH: Ramsey, Giroud Score Late, Give Arsenal Wild Win to Open Premier League Season
The 2017-18 Premier League season could not have gotten off to a more thrilling start.
Late goals by Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud turned a Leicester City win into a 4-3 Arsenal triumph over the Foxes in a seven-goal stunner at the Emirates, with the Gunners taking all three points to start the campaign. Jamie Vardy scored twice for Leicester, who twice blew leads after conceding a second-minute opener to new Arsenal signing Alexandre Lacazette.
Arsenal is coping with missing out on the Champions League for the first time in two decades, while Leicester City endured a rocky defense to its improbable 2015-16 title but managed to stay up under managerial replacement Craig Shakespeare and is hoping for a more sane season going forward. The two sides have both figured in the transfer market as well, with Arsenal signing Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac while holding onto Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez (thus far, anyhow), while Leicester has brought in Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City and is widely expected to be dealing Riyad Mahrez prior to the Aug. 31 deadline.
For Arsenal, some positive momentum had already been achieved after beating Chelsea to win the Community Shield, and it continued early Friday, as Lacazette announced his arrival immediately with an unmarked yet difficult and instinctive header off Mohamed Elneny's chipped-forward assist to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.
Mahrez nearly equalized less than two minutes later in sensational fashion, with his volleyed attempt off a set piece going tantalizingly wide of Petr Cech's goal.
The equalizer did come soon after, though, with new signing Harry Maguire heading a ball by the far post to the goal mouth, where Shinji Okazaki finished with a header of his own.
Arsenal pressured after the equalizer and nearly scored through Kolasinac, but a needless turnover on the other end between Elneny and Granit Xhaka allowed Leicester to take its first lead of the match.
Marc Albrighton served in a perfect ball from the left, curling a cross for Vardy, who capped the sequence against the run of play with his first goal of the season. Vardy had the opportunity to join Arsenal after Leicester's title-winning campaign, but he remained and made Arsenal pay with his textbook one-time finish in the 29th minute.
Arsenal appeared to have a reasonable gripe over not being given a penalty call in the 43rd minute, when it looked like Wilfried Ndidi handled Kolasinac's ball in the box, but referee Mike Dean saw things another way, allowing play to go on.
Arsenal found its equalizer on the stroke of halftime, though, with Lacazette squeezing a ball through tight space to Kolasinac, who laid it off for Danny Welbeck to beat Kasper Schmeichel from close range, making it 2-2 entering the break.
Leicester took the lead right back just before the hour mark, scoring off another set piece. It was the familiar championship-winning connection that did it, with Vardy heading home Mahrez's corner kick to beat Arsenal's zonal defensive approach and make it 3-2 to the Foxes in the 56th minute.
Arsenal fought back again, though, with Ramsey coming off the bench to score an equalizer in the 83rd minute, netting from close range and a right-sided angle to make it 3-3.
Two minutes later, Lacazette nearly scored the go-ahead goal, showing patience deep in Leicester's box only to force a tough save by Schmeichel, who tipped it over the bar.
On the ensuing corner, the go-ahead strike came, and it came off the head of Giroud. Despite being held in the box, Giroud got up and powered a header just over the bar, unleashing a roar at the Emirates from fans who were expecting the worst as Leicester's lead carried on into the match.
The match was far from perfect for Arsenal, who during the second half resorted to a back line that featured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at right back, a pair of fullbacks in the center (Nacho Monreal, Kolasinac) and Hector Bellerin playing on the left. The Gunners gave the ball away far to easily in dangerous places and were susceptible to Leicester's crossing without Laurent Koscielny in the center to win aerial battles. But three points are three points, and Arsene Wenger will surely be happy to take them into next Saturday's match at Stoke City.
The rest of the Premier League teams will open up their campaigns over the next two days, but it's unlikely they'll match the entertainment value provided by Friday's opener in London.