Arsenal head to the King Power Stadium with a lack of confidence as they look for ways to get back in the running for a top four spot.
Last week Arsenal were the favourites to finish in the top four and moreover, many had tipped them to leapfrog rivals Tottenham for third place. Things have changed since with losses to Crystal Palace and Wolves in four days, and now Arsenal’s fate in the top-four race is no longer in their own hands.
Lucky enough for Arsenal, except for Tottenham, all their other rivals, namely Chelsea and Manchester United dropped points during this period, which gives them some hope heading into the final three games of the season. Additionally, with Chelsea and United facing each other on Sunday, Arsenal will have a keen eye on that fixture, but before that, they desperately need to win their game against Leicester City.
Like Arsenal, Leicester City have something tangible to aim at, with the Foxes embroiled in a battle to finish seventh. That finish could give them access to the Europa League qualifying rounds for next season, although three other sides are vying for the seventh spot. This particular race looks like going down to the wire, but each remaining game for all teams are vital.
The Foxes, however, have stuttered of late and results have not gone their way. They lost to Newcastle at home and struggled against West Ham, where a late Harvey Barnes goal could only salvage a 2-2 draw. Against Arsenal, they need to make their home advantage count and exploit the Gunners for their weaknesses on the road this season.
Team News & Tactics
Brendan Rodgers will have a full-strength squad at his disposal for the Arsenal game, with only Daniel Amartey absent with a long-term injury. Additionally, Leicester will see the return of Wes Morgan who missed the West Ham clash due to personal reasons. The return of their captain will let Rodgers shuffle his pack at the back with Morgan expected to replace Jonny Evans to partner Harry Maguire.
Harvey Barnes’ late strike and overall performance could give Rodgers a selection headache for his attacking three. Barnes could be brought in the side and replace Marc Albrighton who has seen a dip in form. He could partner Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy who has scored six goals against Arsenal in previous encounters.
The rest of the side could be the same as against West Ham, with Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell the preferred options in the full-back slots. With Leicester’s attacking lineup clear, Rodgers will start with a midfield three with Wilfred Ndidi at the center of it and supported by Youri Tielemans and James Maddison.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison; Gray, Vardy, Barnes
Unai Emery must tinker and get the best out of the available players against Leicester. The manager started with a four-man backline against Wolves, which failed him miserably so he might bring in Shkodran Mustafi or Nacho Monreal in a back three. The combination of Monreal, Sokratis, and Laurent Koscielny has worked in the past, but the Frenchman has looked jaded in the last two games, so the German might start.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has done well in recent games so he is tipped to start in the wing-back role on the right, while Emery could recall Sead Kolasinac in the left wing-back slot. Aaron Ramsey remains out of contention with his thigh injury and will play no part against Leicester, while Denis Suarez is also out injured with a groin problem. Both those players might have already played their last game for the club.
Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira remain the only viable options for central midfield, and they might keep their places there. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to come back after missing the Wolves game after he underwent a sinus procedure, while Emery will take a call on Lacazette’s involvement, given the Europa League semi-final on the horizon.
Emery could boot out both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil for this clash after their under-par displays against Wolves, while Alex Iwobi could be given another chance to impress from the right. In this scenario, Lacazette is sure to start.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Lacazette, Aubameyang, Iwobi
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.50
2. Full-Time Result – Leicester or Draw @ 1.53
3. Jamie Vardy to score anytime @ 2.37
1. Jamie Vardy to score 2 or more @ 8.00
- Leicester City have won just one of their last 24 Premier League meetings with Arsenal (D7 L16).
- Arsenal haven’t lost consecutive away league games against Leicester since November 1983.
- After a run of four consecutive Premier League victories, Leicester are winless in their last two games under Brendan Rodgers (D1 L1).
- Leicester have lost eight Premier League home games this season.
- Arsenal have lost their last two Premier League games on a Sunday, last losing three such games in a row back in March 2013.
Player to Watch
How Arsenal missed their prolific striker when they desperately needed the goals against Wolves, but now that he is back they need to formulate a plan to get the best out of him. Aubameyang currently has 19 league goals in the season and is two short of Mohamed Salah who leads the race for the Golden Boot with 21 strikes.
More than the Golden Boot, Aubameyang will be focused on helping Arsenal to a top-four finish and a strong Europa League showing in the remaining games. Arsenal have lost form and composure, and now that the Gabonese is back, they need him to score the goals and win them the remaining three league games, starting with Leicester City.
Leicester City 1-1 Arsenal
Arsenal have been weak against teams of no specific quality away from home. Leicester City have been a difficult side for them to play away in recent times, with the Gunners losing against the Foxes in this fixture last season as well. Fans will be expecting Arsenal to bounce back from their recent losses, but there is no light in sight when it comes to an away battle for the Gunners.
Leicester, on the other hand, have not been at their best recently as results have not gone their way. The quality they have has not resonated into good form, but they have the players who could trouble and exploit Arsenal’s weaknesses. Expect both teams to play out a draw, and deal a blow to both their chances of finishing 4th and 7th respectively come to the end of the season.