I suppose that a point away to the champions is not the worst fate that could have befallen us after last week's epic shitshow of a defensive "performance", but you also can't help thinking that this one might have been there for the taking if we had gone about it in the right way.
Thankfully, Laurent Koscielny came right back into the side in place of the main culprit of last week's disaster, Calum Chambers. Immediately, one could see how much more solid we were throughout. Leicester did threaten once or twice, but ultimately they were kept at bay as the Frenchmen ran around in the madcap fashion, putting out fires here, there and everywhere.
As for the midfield, we were basically all right there, too. With the main deadwood gone, there are few bad options that Arsene has to choose from in those areas.
But, and as much as I love the guy, Alexis Sanchez is a center-forward in the same sense that I happen to be the Tsar of all the Russias. A gentleman at the pub (I forget your name, sorry) pointed out that we were still playing like Olivier Giroud was up top to hold up the ball, but of all the skill sets Alexis has, that's not one of them. His movement and dribbling get lost up there, too. Square peg, round hole. You'd think that lesson would have been learned last week, but, well, *shrug emoticion*.
The first half was a bitty old thing, lots of running around with little in the way of purpose or end product. Basically, it was like Waiting for Godot on a treadmill. As usual, Arsenal had the majority of the ball, but continued to sportingly halt until the defenders could get back and set up the usual wall between themselves and the goal. I imagine we'd have been the toast of the Victorian Era. There was little in the way of invention or guile to try and break it down, either. Sideways pass, sideways pass, sideways pass, etc. I will say this though, at least Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tried to take his man on now and again. He'd be a hell of a player if he were, say, 5% better.
We did have one sneaky-good chance though, right around the half-hour mark. Ask Hugo Lloris about these ones - he got beat on the same thing on the opening day. Santi Cazorla whipped in a free kick, which happened to elude everyone in its path. The keeper generally has to assume that there will be contact somewhere, so it's difficult when there isn't. Unfortunately, Kasper Schmeichel was there to paw it to safety.
Up the other end, the Foxes thought they had a shout for a penalty just before halftime, as it appeared that Jamie Vardy was scythed down by Koscielny in the area. We were originally relieved when Mark Clattenburg didn't give it, as it looked bad in real time. Replays show that our Kos won the ball with a majestically-timed tackle, though. Once again, isn't it amazing what happens when you have a grown-up in central defense?
The second half meandered along much as the first did, with the notable exceptions of Petr Cech's hilarious dragback to escape Vardy's pressing and the unfortunate one-car accident that Nampalys Mendy had. That looked like a bad one...we can only hope the Leicester man gets well soon.
It was beyond obvious that changes were needed, and on the earlier side of things as well. There were several candidates to come off, too. Granit Xhaka is clearly still adjusting to life in this league, and hadn't done much. Francis Coquelin was on a yellow, and already benefited from a spot of lenience from Clattenburg by this point. Theo Walcott's main contribution was to incessantly lose the ball and find new and interesting ways to get caught offside.
Someone will have to explain to me, then, why we didn't make any changes until the 73rd minute, and why 1) Walcott didn't come off, 2) Giroud wasn't one of the guys coming on and 3) why we risked a red by leaving Coquelin on.
I know, I know, I've managed 0 games...etc and so on.
Anyway, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere came on for Xhaka and Cazorla, and we did look a bit more incisive. Still, the fulcrum wasn't there, though. A good target man does affect everything behind him, and the lack of Giroud meant that we still didn't create all that much in terms of gilt-edged chances.
He finally did come on with 10 minutes to go, but that isn't enough time to put your stamp on things though. I should say, at least in general. Ahmed Musa came on with just a few minutes left on the clock and should have won a penalty about four nanoseconds after he came on. Clattenburg was right there and in fairness some benefit of the doubt should be given since he had a excellent game overall, but I think he got that one wrong.
We still almost didn't escape, though. Riyad Mahrez was a peripheral figure for much of the match, but he struck in the 92nd minute with an excellent run into the penalty area. Thankfully, Petr Cech was off his line decisively to block at his feet.
So, here we sit. One point in the bank after two matches, five points behind the usual suspects...oh and Hull City, too. There's no reason why we couldn't have had all six here with a little luck and, oh I don't know, a signing or two? Anyway, we have Watford and Southampton coming up next - not easy by any stretch, but sides that we should have more chances against. Six points from that and we're probably in decent shape heading into the weeks to come.
That said, I am a few days out from my annual European holiday - looks like Berlin, Dublin and Oslo this year. Have a great time while I'm gone and don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Man of the Match: Laurent Koscielny