Arsenal will look to maintain their 100% winning record this term when they lock horns with Leicester City in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
Following an impressive end to the 2019/20 campaign, Arsenal have been on fire in the new season, winning each of their three matches in all competitions so far, including a win over Liverpool in the Community Shield (albeit via penalty shootout).
In the Premier League, they are coming on the back of two consecutive wins over Fulham and West Ham United. However, on Wednesday, they will face a tricky test against Leicester City in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
On paper, at least, the Gunners have appeared quite unlucky to be drawn against a club like Leicester in the third round. But, they have been in tremendous form under Mikel Arteta, with defensive solidity emerging as one of their biggest assets.
That said, Leicester City, unlike West Ham and Fulham, boast the services of one of the most lethal attacking units in the league, having already scored seven goals in their opening two matches in the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers’s men will also have the home advantage on Wednesday, so it won’t be surprising to see them dominate the proceedings, with Arteta employing a more defensive tactics. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this enticing match-up in the Carabao Cup this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Brendan Rodgers has confirmed, ahead of the game, that he is going to ring in the changes, with the Northern Irishman keeping one eye on the important fixture against Manchester City on the weekend.
Cengiz Under was signed from AS Roma recently and the Turkish international will be hoping to make his debut for the Foxes, although he is unlikely to be a part of the starting lineup. Demarai Gray is set to occupy his role at left wing, with Marc Albrighton starting on the opposite flank.
"Look at all of the u’s in Leicester’s bio!!! HE’S HERE!!!!" 📱
Take a look back at how Twitter reacted to our #ÜnderTaken announcement yesterday 👇
— Leicester City (@LCFC) September 21, 2020
Star striker Jamie Vardy may also be rested, paving the way for Kelechi Iheanacho to spearhead the Leicester City attack. However, another key player in James Maddison could make his return to the starting lineup, after featuring as a substitute in the last two matches.
The English international may feature alongside Nampalys Mendy in the double pivot as Rodgers generally tends to shift to a back-three against clubs that employ a similar formation.
It essentially means that we may see Timothy Castagne operating at right wing-back, especially with Ricardo Pereira injured. Luke Thomas may get the nod ahead of James Justin and Christian Fuchs on the opposite flank.
And in central defense, the Foxes are still missing Jonny Evans while Filip Benkovic is out injured. It means Wilfred Ndidi may once again have to feature at centre-back, forming the three-man backline alongside Caglar Soyuncu and Wes Morgan. They will look to provide cover for goalkeeper Danny Ward.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Ward; Morgan, Ndidi, Soyuncu; Castagne, Mendy, Maddison, Thomas; Albrighton, Iheanacho, Gray
We may see some new faces at Arsenal this midweek as Mikel Arteta also looks to ring in the changes before his team faces Premier League champions, Liverpool, on Monday.
William Saliba is a huge favorite to make his Arsenal debut after failing to make the team in the last couple of matches. David Luiz could also return to the fold, while Kieran Tierney’s knock against West Ham United means the Scot could be rested, paving the way for Rob Holding to retain his place at centre-back.
There could be one change in goal as well, with new signing Runar Alex Runarsson replacing Bernd Leno. The Iceland international has joined from Dijon and is the desired replacement for Emiliano Martinez. Matt Macey is the alternative should Runarsson fail to make himself available against Leiester.
Welcome to The Arsenal, Alex Runarsson 🔴
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 21, 2020
In midfield, Mohamed Elneny could come into the fray, giving Granit Xhaka a much-needed rest. The Egyptian is likely to partner Dani Ceballos in the double pivot, with Arteta lacking any other reliable alternatives, although we might see Mesut Ozil make the 18 for the first time in a while.
Cedric Soares and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are the obvious picks in the wing-back positions. They will replace Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka, although the latter is likely to shift into the more attacking role on the left flank, replacing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With Saka featuring at left wing, Nicolas Pepe should operate on the opposite flank at the expense of Willian. And finally, the Arsenal attack could be spearheaded by Eddie Nketiah, who will be full of confidence after scoring a late winner against West Ham United.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Runarsson; Holding, Luiz, Saliba; Cedric, Elneny, Ceballos, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Nketiah, Saka
- In all competitions, Leicester City haven’t lost to Arsenal at home since 2015 in a 2-5 defeat (P5 W3 D1 L1).
- In the last two meetings at home, Leicester City have maintained a clean sheet and scored two or more goals in both matches (3-0 in 2019/20, 2-0 in 2018/19).
- Arsenal are currently on a five-match winning streak dating back to the end of last season. But, the Gunners have let in at least one goal in four of those fixtures.
- Leicester City have gotten to the quarter-finals in every League cup since 2017/18, last losing their opening fixture in the 2016/17 season against Chelsea in extra time.
- The Gunners last failed to pass the third round in the League Cup in 2014/15 against Southampton and last entered a finals stage (i.e. quarter-finals onwards) in 2018/19.
Player to Watch
As iterated earlier, Saliba could make his Arsenal debut after surprisingly not featuring in the first two matches of the campaign. It could be an important game for the Frenchman as Mikel Arteta looks to deal with an injury crisis that sees players like Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers spending time on the sidelines.
Arsenal, as a result, have had to persist with Rob Holding in defence. So if someone like Saliba can step up for the Gunners, he could become an asset on the right side of the back-three, with Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney comprising the rest of the three-man unit.
Not to mention, a strong performance against Leicester City this midweek could aid Saliba himself, boosting his confidence as he looks to make an impact in English football.
Leicester City 2-1 Arsenal
This is always a tricky game to predict, given the balanced nature of the two teams. Arsenal have looked defensively solid, but they have lacked creativity, and without the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian, the Gunners might slump to a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of Leicester City.