Preview: Arsenal vs Leicester City - Gunners' pace could annihilate Foxes
After Arsenal’s lacklustre performance against Tottenham, a visit from bottom side Leicester could be just the tonic the players and fans need. Tonight’s fixture has presented us with an opportunity to go back above Tottenham – if their match against Liverpool goes our way – and a chance to increase our goal difference. Points are infinitely preferable but goal difference could be what separates us and another side.
We have the fire power and the right type of opposition to get another Villa-esque high scoring result but that does not mean we should take Leicester or the match outcome for granted.
The Foxes might be the bottom club but often relegation threatened teams – and especially those languishing at the foot of the table for most of the season – are like caged beasts. Relatively harmless and easy to deal with if proper and professional procedure is followed. However, lazy and neglectful handling of such beasts often leads to stinging wounds, close shaves or worse, lost fingers.
Plenty of other people have been poking them through the bars and rattling the cage so we must be careful and reduce them to snarling at the most.
I don’t really want to pick over the loss to Spurs too much because it can be concisely reduced to “we weren’t good enough”. A small elaboration on my part would be to say I think we switched off at crucial moments and were punished. As a result I think we may see a slight defensive change tonight.
Bellerin I believe will maintain his post as extra minutes against a less potent opponent can only serve to further his education but I believe Koscielny may be rested in favour of Gabriel. The Frenchman hasn’t looked entirely fit since coming back into the fold and despite not yet understanding English instructions this could be the perfect type of game to blood Gabriel – or least that is what I suspect Wenger will think.
Alexis will return in this match in some form after Wenger admitted he kept him out of the team to ensure he doesn’t have an injury setback. Even though we lost I think it’s fantastic we’ve got to the point with our squad where key players can be managed carefully – it’s a luxury we’ve yearned to have for many a year now.
I think we’ll set up for pace with Giroud – who picked up a knock on Saturday – starting on the bench and being replaced by Welbeck up front and welcoming back Alexis and Walcott into the starting line up. With Özil pulling the strings we have a recipe for devastation.
Cazorla has been brilliant for weeks now but he looked tired and sloppy on Saturday – as did the whole team – but I think he’ll get a bit of a rest in this game as possibly will Ramsey who is getting a lot of stick at the moment. He certainly isn’t at his best but the Spurs game is not indicative of his form in general. He’s not been scoring loads of goals and sadly I think that is what people have come to judge him on even if they won’t admit it.
I believe he’s been as good for Coquelin as Coquelin has been for the team. He rarely leaves his man exposed to the opposition and that has helped Coquelin focus on dealing with the stuff that does get through.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Ospina, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin. Flamini, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ramsey, Özil, Giroud, Walcott, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Cazorla, Alexis.
Predicted Lineup: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal; Walcott, Rosicky, Coquelin; Özil, Alexis, Welbeck
I expect to see substitute appearances from Cazorla, Giroud and Gibbs
“Alexis is dynamic and he does both parts of the game. He’s important in the team because of that, because he wins you the ball back quickly as well. The transitions are very good from defence to attack and attack to defence.” – Arsène Wenger
Last three meetings
- Leicester 1-1 Arsenal (31.08.2014)
- Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (15.05.2004)
- Leicester 1-1 Arsenal (04.12.2003)
Arsenal Last 5: LWWWW
Leicester Last 5: LLLLW
Leicester are bottom and have been there for the last 12 Premier League fixtures – a period that has seen them take just seven points from an available thirty six. When Arsenal visited the King Power Stadium in August the Foxes managed to limit them to a draw and optimism was high in Leicester.
Ulloa had settled immediately and was delivering as a top-flight striker and they looked dangerous down the wings with Schlupp and Mahrez – propelling themselves as high as seventh after beating Manchester United in September but things soured quickly and they’ve tumbled down the table and their manager was reported as being sacked forcing the club to deny it.
Such is the life of a Premier League manager – especially a newly promoted one – you would expect it won’t be long before he’s released as Leicester pin their hopes on a new man turning them around.
Nothing Leicester has done in recent weeks suggests they will offer anything other than scant resistance to Arsenal’s persuasive attack but that depends entirely on how Arsenal approach this match. After losing the derby you would hope they would look at Leicester not as the bottom club struggling for goals and clean sheets but as a serious threat to their own league aims. Arsenal licking their own wounds but they are still potently dangerous at will.
- Wenger has never lost in the league to Leicester
- Leicester have failed to hit the net on 11 occasions this season
- Arsenal have not lost to a team in the bottom half of the table this season
- Leicester haven’t won at Arsenal in 7 league visits
- Leicester have kept only 4 clean sheets this season – the joint worst with QPR
- The Foxes have the joint second worst goals scored record
- Arsenal have won their last 5 Premier League home games – if they win tonight they will equal a record from December 2006
Arsenal boast the best home goals scored record in the league and haven’t lost at home in 7 matches in all competitions whereas Leicester have lost 8 of their last 10 away games. Beware the wounded tiger.
5-1 to Arsenal with goals from Welbeck, Özil, Walcott and Alexis.