Leicester v Arsenal
King Power Stadium
Kick off: August 31st, 2014 16.00 PM BST
We solved our European puzzle successfully, not without stress though, and now we can stretch our unbeaten streak in all competitions to thirteen games. Our league rivals had a mixed Saturday – Manchester City lost at home to Stoke, Chelsea won at Goodison Park and Manchester United drew against Burnley – so a victory would be the only desirable outcome.
Leicester are an ambitious newly-promoted side that don’t want to get relegated again. They were out of Premiership since 2003-04 when our Invincibles conquered the league without defeat. Actually, their last match in the Premiership prior to this season had been the one at Highbury in which our unbeaten season was confirmed.
They have stated their goal about making a break-through in the Top 5 in following years and signed some experienced players to help them achieve that. Their newest addition is Esteban Cambiasso, the best holding midfielder in Championship Manager 3 and a Champions’ League winner with Inter in 2009-10, who signed as a free agent. He is 34, probably well past his prime but he has experience of a champion.
David Nugent, Chris Wood and Leonardo Ulloa will try to score goals – Ulloa was giving us a headache in the FA Cup tie against Brighton two seasons ago before Walcott’s late winner secured the game. Kasper Schmeichel, who was heavily linked with Arsenal before we signed Ospina is between the sticks. Matthew Upson is a familiar face among The Foxes’ defenders.
Leicester haven’t had an easy start – they have already played Everton at home and Chelsea away. Neither opponents have humiliated them, Everton had to settle for a draw at King Power Stadium (it could have been a cooler title for the stadium if only they named it King Power Awesome Stadium!) and Chelsea were on the ropes at 0:0 but Nugent’s one-on-ones with Courtois didn’t go well for Leicester. They returned to the league with an intention to stay here and that’s why they might pose a big threat to our ambitions.
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In a way, they are our lucky charm though. The last two times they participated in the Premiership we went on to win the title. We haven’t won the league since they had been relegated in 2003-04.
There will be at least one change to the team that won the game against Bešiktaš. Aaron Ramsey returns to the team and will try to stretch his streak of league games in which he has scored four (Norwich, Crystal Palace, Everton). The Welshman has perfect positioning and an eye for a goal which he has proved since the beginning of 2013-14. Alexis Sánchez scored the winner against Bešiktaš and now the Chilean is expected to deliver goals again.
The fact Alexis will draw the attention of the opponents’ defenders should be used by the other Arsenal attackers. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave another fine performance against the Turks and it would be a nice round-up of the week for him if he scores a goal himself. He was close to doing so against Bešiktaš but somehow he hit the goalkeeper from point-blank range. Mesut Özil can play another match in which he is going to be rather invisible before creating or scoring a goal – I wouldn’t mind at all.
The real question is: what Wenger plans to do with Wilshere? Is he going to start after an excellent display against Bešiktaš? Next to Ramsey in the central midfield or in a more advanced role? Wenger’s decision regarding Wilshere will have an impact on Santi Cazorla too as the Spaniard might either start on the bench or on the left wing. Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell might get some playing time too but more likely in the closing stage of the match. Same goes with Tomas Rosicky.
Defensive line-up will probably remain the same. Mertesacker looked a bit rusty against Everton but Leicester don’t have the quality in attack like The Toffees. Debuchy and Monreal should keep their good form running down the flanks and Koscielny has been our best defender for 18 months.
It’s hard to predict a score here, especially given how unconvincing our performances have been. However, one goal in each half and one of those would come in injury time should be enough for our victory.
Head to Head
Premier League (EPL) 15 May 2004 Arsenal FC 2 – Leicester 1
Premier League (EPL) 06 Dec 2003 Leicester 1 – Arsenal FC 1
Premier League (EPL) 23 Jan 2002 Leicester 1 – Arsenal FC 3
Premier League (EPL) 25 Aug 2001 Arsenal FC 4 – Leicester 0
Premier League (EPL) 20 Jan 2001 Leicester 0 – Arsenal FC 0
Debuchy Mertesacker (c) Koscielny Monreal
Chamberlain Wilshere Özil
Leicester 0 v 2 Arsenal