Arsenal vs Leicester City: Vardy vs Sanchez , Mahrez vs Ozil - Who can come out on top?
Can Sunday give us a clear sign whether Leicester can really go all the way?
Valentine’s Day provides EPL enthusiasts with a real top of the table treat. Arsenal vs. Leicester being one of the fixtures scheduled for Sunday along with Manchester City hosting Tottenham. Arsenal meeting Leicester is really a tale of two completely different teams who started the season with different ambitions and the style of football played by the two teams cannot be more distinguishable.
Arsenal will be looking to control play and Leicester City might just let them go ahead and let them since it just Leicester’s playing style to keep unnecessary possession. They will instead look to pounce on any mistake that Arsenal might make.
Heading into this nail-biter of a fixture it is no doubt that the spotlight will be fixed on Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez after their heroics at The Etihad stadium. Mahrez set a new record for being the first player to reach double figures in both goals (14) and assists (10). Vardy and the entire Leicester team will be supremely confident about a possible victory at The Emirates Stadium after their trouncing of Manchester City.
Arsenal head into this fixture on the back of a 2-0 win at Bournemouth with goals from Mesut Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain within a space of 88 seconds. Arsene Wenger and his men will surely be feeling the pressure from the fans for a win since anything other than 3 points might seriously put their English Premier League title hopes in jeopardy.
The obvious “superstars” of the encounter namely Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez will be the players that the fans will expect or will hope to deliver in this top four clash and it is fair to say that it could be categorised as Ozil vs. Mahrez and Vardy vs. Sanchez.
Mahrez vs. Ozil
Mesut Ozil and Riyad Mahrez have been pivotal in their team’s success this season with each of them making notable contributions.
Riyad Mahrez recently became the first player ever in the EPL to reach double figures in goals scoring 14 and assisting in a further 11. This achievement speaks volumes about the quality of the player and the obvious threat he possesses.
Leicester hold the ball (on average this season) for 45% of the game which is the 11th best in the EPL but these statistics prove nothing as the top scorer of the Premier League belongs to this team and Leicester are the team with the highest number of goals this season.
Ozil has been Arsenal’s main man and with Alexis Sanchez being injured for a major chunk of this season, the German Maestro has demonstrated to the Premier League world what he’s all about after a slow start to life in London.
Having made 23 appearances in the PL this season Ozil’s contribution involves 4 goals and a staggering 16 assists. Ozil is currently the second highest assist leader all over Europe only behind Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Borussia Dortmund and this shows how well Ozil has done this season.
With both players in top form and everything they do and touch seems to be turning to gold it will be a real treat to watch The Algerian and The German in action in what should be a real David vs. Goliath encounter.
Vardy vs. Sanchez
Jamie Vardy and Leicester have been written off on numerous occasions and the Leicester side have always come up with an answer that silences the critics and stuns the EPL world.
Leicester always surprise the critics and experts by defying logic week-in, week-out and Jamie Vardy should be given a lot of the credit for Leicester City’s current position. Having made 25 appearances this season in the league Vardy is the top scorer with 18 goals and also has a number of assists under his belt.
Vardy’s pace and Leicester City’s counter attacking play will be something that Arsene Wenger will have to think about and will have to select an appropriate back-line and may have to tweak his game-plan a little bit and should ensure that his team don’t get caught on the ball in their own half.
Sanchez who has just returned from injury has a decent 10 goals to his name this season out of which 6 of them have come in the league. Making his return against Chelsea, Sanchez was not able to make a difference to the score-line but his mere presence added life to the team who were a man short.
With Sanchez fit and running again, the Leicester back four may have to keep their eyes open since Sanchez is also capable of making darting runs off of the ball and with the ball, Sanchez can be considered better than Vardy in terms of at least in terms of skill and technique.
Sanchez’s last goal came against Burnley in a 2-1 home win in the FA cup; he will certainly be looking to add to his tally and the supporters will hope he can deliver at the big stage.
Although Giroud has played a greater number of games and has scored more goals this season, the Arsenal faithful will turn to Sanchez to make something happen. Sanchez did score a hat-trick when these two sides met earlier in the season.
Olivier Giroud has 18 goals to his name this season and the Leicester City centre-backs Robert Huth and Wes Morgan may face a challenge as we all know with Giroud’s ability in the air. His finishing isn’t bad either and he may be a lot to handle for the Leicester back-line who could have to deal with Ozil, Sanchez and Ramsey as well.
Two teams who play very different football, have different ambitions; Arsenal vs. Leicester City will be nothing short of exciting as the main stars involve the leading scorer of the league (Vardy), the “assist king” of Europe(Ozil), the Chilean Maestro(Sanchez) and the man who has set a record in the EPL in terms of goals and assists (Mahrez). The footballing world will be waiting for this fixture with the utmost excitement and anticipation. Will Valentine’s Day bring Leicester City closer to the EPL trophy?