25 September 2015

Leicester-Arsenal Preview: Can the Gunners overcome unbeaten Foxes?

They're undefeated. They've scored more goals than most anyone else in the Prem to date. They beat West Ham, who beat us. The maths, in fact, look bleak. Arsenal 0-2 West Ham; West Ham 1-2 Leicester. Add in another 2-1 victory over West Ham in the League Cup, and the inescapable conclusion is that our visit to King Power on Saturday will end at 4-1 to the Foxes, if not worse. Now that that's settled, let's get down to the nitty-gritty details...

Enough of that nonsense. As with a season ago, Leicester are off to a bright start—but they've had a bit of a softer start to things, what with wins over Sunderland (20th), West Ham (3rd), and Aston Villa (17th); and with draws with Stoke (18th), Bournemouth (14th), and Tottenham (9th). They are young, feisty, and optimistic, and they seem to never give up, if their fightback from 0-2 to win 3-2 over Aston Villa proves anything. Then again, the flipside to that is that they were down 0-2 to Aston Villa in the first place. which seems to symbolize Leicester's season to date.

Between the two of them, Riyad Mahrez and James Vardy, both playing on the right of a 4-4-2, have scored nine of Leicester's 13 goals thus far, and we'd do well to negate them. Given their seemingly boundless energy, and they seem more than capable of scoring (something we at Arsenal might envy more than a little bit). However, if we can shut them down—and something tells me that Monreal, Gabriel, and Koscielny could do that, even if Coquelin isn't shielding them—we'll be more than halfway towards our goal.

At the other end of things, we should seize the opportunity that the Foxes offer. They've kept one clean sheet in any competition since January (a 1-0 win over Newcastle in the FA Cup's third round) and seem every bit as generous as they are prolific. Only Chelsea, Norwich, and Sunderland have conceded more often than have the Foxes. Fresh off of victory at White Hart Lane (and basking in the reprieve granted to Gabriel), we should go into King Power knowing that we have to and should be able to seize all three. Unlike last weekend, these are the fixtures from which we simply can't afford to drop points.

LAST THREE:
Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (10.02.2015)
Leicester 1-1 Arsenal (31.08.2014)
Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (15.05.2004)

FACTFILE:
The two clubs first clashed on 1 August 1894, a 3-1 win to Leicester.
Arsenal have not lost to Leicester in the last ten outings.
Leicester have won five of their last six matches at home.

INJURIES/BANS
Rosický, Welbeck, and Wilshere have all been ruled out; Coquelin faces a late fitness test. Cazorla returns from his one-match suspension, and Gabriel has had his three-match been lifted.

POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Čech; Monreal, Gabriel, Koscielny, Bellerín; Flamini, Cazorla; Alexis, Özil, Ramsey; Walcott.

This should be one in which Arsenal, leading the Prem in shots taken, finally starts to deliver some end-product.

PREDICTION
Leicester 1-3 Arsenal