The game may have been played amidst a heatwave, but it was Gabriel Jesus who was on fire as he netted twice on his home debut to help beat Leicester City in a topsy-turvy encounter.
The Brazilian striker opened his account for us with two goals in the opening 45; the first a sumptuous piece of play that saw him chip the ball into the top corner from inside the area, before he nodded in from close range 13 minutes later to put us in control.
And despite a Wiliam Saliba own goal halving the deficit, we bounced back within two minutes thanks to Granit Xhaka, and repeated the trick again when Gabriel Martinelli netted moments after James Maddison had once again given the visitors hope.
That proved to be enough to secure a second successive win at the start of the season, and kick our campaign off in the perfect fashion.
Jesus at the double
The game kicked off with temperatures in the mid-30s, but we were indebted to the coolness of Aaron Ramsdale just three minutes in when Wesley Fofana linked up with Jamie Vardy to glide into the box, but our number one stayed big to repel the defender’s shot.
Perhaps due to the conditions chances were initially at a premium, but we gradually began to dictate proceedings. Firstly, Jesus rippled the side-netting with a header from a Gabriel Martinelli free-kick, and then Bukayo Saka clipped a perfect pass towards Xhaka at the back post, but his header struck the woodwork.
But on 23 minutes, we did get on the scoresheet as Jesus opened his Emirates Stadium account in sublime style. He began to move on the left before finding Martinelli, who wriggled his way into the area to pick out Xhaka, who laid the ball back to Jesus. The striker stopped it dead, before quickly and casually chipping the ball over the 6’3” frame of Danny Ward into the top corner from 10 yards out to send our supporters wild.
That piece of champagne football came just before the first scheduled water break which briefly slowed down proceedings, but 10 minutes before half-time Jesus doubled his tally with a much more routine finish than his first. A dangerous corner from Martinelli forced Vardy to inadvertently flick the ball backwards, and Jesus was perfectly placed to nod home from a couple of yards out.
Jesus was thriving and twice in quick succession he had chances to complete a hat-trick - firstly latching onto a long ball by Ramsdale, spinning past Jonny Evans and was only denied by a well-timed tackle by Wilfred Ndidi, and then moments later he was played in by Martinelli only to see Ward smother his effort.
Xhaka thwarts comeback
But despite our dominance of the first half, it looked like we may harshly see our lead halved from the penalty spot when Vardy raced onto a Castagne pass and initiated contact with the onrushing Ramsdale. Darren England pointed to the spot, but after being instructed by VAR to look again via the monitor, he reversed his decision.
That ensured we escaped into the interval with our two-goal lead intact, but just eight minutes into the second half the Foxes saw their deficit reduced when a long ball by Evans was flicked goalwards by James Justin, and Saliba could only watch as his attempted header back to Ramsdale creeped into the net.
That could have sent nerves jangling right around the ground, but just two minutes later we showed great character to make it 3-1. Ben White saw his cross fumbled by Ward right into the path of Jesus, who laid the ball off to Xhaka to grab a deserved goal.
Martinelli seals it
But the Foxes wouldn’t quit and with 16 minutes remaining Maddison linked up with Kalechi Iheanacho on the right, and the Nigerian switched the ball back to the playmaker who drilled the ball between Ramsdale’s legs from a tight angle.
However, once again we showed excellent courage to go back down the other end and restore the two-goal cushion. Martinelli started and ended the move, winning back possession in the middle of the park, getting back into space and when found by Jesus, he steadied himself before unleashing a low inch-perfect strike into the bottom corner to score in his third consecutive Premier League game.
With 10 minutes remaining Jesus looked destined to complete his treble when Saka forced Ward to save with his feet, but the rebound proved too tricky for the hitman to keep on target, and despite Thomas Partey and Eddie Nketiah going close late on, enough had been done to secure six points from six.
From the dressing room
Arteta: “I think the crowd was special, especially after Saliba’s own goal. The way they reacted was something I’ve never seen in football; the amount of support and connection they are showing with us, and especially with William, lifted the team straight away. I have to thank them so much for that.
“From the first minute, they were electric. You feel like they are totally with us, totally engaged and it is so energising for the team. The boys keep talking about it - they can’t wait to play in front of this crowd, and it’s making a huge difference.” - hear more from the manager
Xhaka: “I’ve got more freedom to go up and down,” Xhaka explained. “I know I can do that. I have a lot of freedom from the coach, from my teammates.
“At the moment I’m happy with how everything is going. Let’s continue to work like this and hopefully at the end of the season we can be more than happy.
“It’s always good when you score and it’s always good when you can help the team - not only me, but all the players did a great job today. I’m more than happy to help, of course.” - hear more from Granit
Facts and stats
Gabriel Jesus became the first player to score more than once on his home Premier League debut for us. With two assists as well, he was the first player to both score and assist 2+ goals in a Premier League game for us since Theo Walcott against Newcastle in December 2012 (3 goals, 2 assists).
In his 252nd game for us in all competitions, Granit Xhaka both scored and assisted a goal for the Gunners in the same for the first time.
Since the start of last season, no side has scored more Premier League goals from corners than Arsenal (15), while Leicester have conceded the most such goals in the competition in that time (17).
We named the same starting XI in their first two Premier League matches for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign – they won their first two games that season as well.
A pair of newly-promoted clubs await us next, as we head to the south coast on Saturday, August 20 for a teatime meeting with Bournemouth, before hosting Fulham at the same time a week later back at Emirates Stadium.
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