Mikel Arteta would be gunning for Arsenal to be on the driving seat as they welcome a somewhat wobbly Leicester side at the Emirates in the Premier League on Sunday.
Arsenal have had a better start to the season than most giants in the Premier League, with the Gunners somehow getting all 3 points against oppositions apart from the ‘Big Six’. However, the performances against fellow rivals would be of concern to Mikel Arteta, with the Gunners not able to compete on the pitch.
As far as Leicester are concerned, Brendan Rodgers has kept most of his stars and replaced the ones that left. However, it is their inability to score in their last two defeats in the 2020/21 Premier League is something that will worry the manager.
The Foxes would be keen to get back to winning ways. But, so would Arsenal. It will be intriguing to see who manages to get all three points on Sunday at the Emirates.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta has only one first-team regular in Gabriel Martinelli out on the sidelines, with the likes of Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari depleting the depth in defence. Dani Ceballos and Willian are both reportedly doubtful as well, which only worsens the squad issues for Arteta.
Arsenal have taken to the field mostly with a four-man backline. But, Arteta could deploy a three-man backline to counter the direct threat of Jamie Vardy & co. Bernd Leno should have summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes in front of him for sure, with David Luiz likely to also start at the back.
Kieran Tierney did well as a left central defender earlier and could be preferred over other options. This would allow Arteta to use Ainsley Maitland-Niles in a more advanced position out wide, with Hector Bellerin the other wing-back. In the potential absence of Ceballos, Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka is guaranteed to be the midfield pivot.
Nicolas Pepe will be expected to step up and stake his claim on a starting berth, with Willian doubtful. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are likely to complete the starting eleven.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leno; Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Partey, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Brendan Rodgers hasn’t been on the kind end of the injury dice and is in fact, more heavily hit coming into the fixture. Daniel Amartey, Caglar Soyuncu, Wilfred Ndidi and Ricardo Pereira are all sidelined for the match against Arsenal. But, Rodgers would mainly be sweating over the fitness of star striker Jamie Vardy.
Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne and James Justin are all expected to start at the back, with Kasper Schmeichel in goal. The 4-1-4-1 makes sense, with one player from the four-man midfield stepping up when in attack. Nampalys Mendy will be the connector between defence and midfield.
Youri Tielemans was brought off during midweek, which makes his selection against Arsenal more probable. The Belgian should be accompanied by his compatriot Dennis Praet in midfield, with Harvey Barnes likely to take the left side based on form. However, James Maddison could be fit enough to start and will take over from Ayoze Perez if that is indeed the case.
Jamie Vardy is doubtful but should make it in time to start against Arsenal. There is a strong chance Rodgers goes with a two-man forward line to exploit Arsenal’s three-man backline and stretch it to the limits. This would mean Maddison playing as a second striker of sorts or the formation becoming a 4-3-3 when in attack.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin; Mendy; Maddison, Praet, Tielemans, Barnes; Vardy
1. Arsenal to win @ 1.90
1. Arsenal Clean Sheet – YES @ 3.00
1. Arsenal have scored in each of their last 5 Premier League meetings with Leicester City at the Emirates. But, so have Leicester, barring the 1-0 defeat in 2017.
2. Arsenal have won both of their home games in the 2020/21 Premier League while Leicester won on both their away trips.
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has failed to score in his last four Premier League appearances.
4. Jamie Vardy has 5 goals in 4 Premier League matches so far this season.
5. Alexandre Lacazette has started the season well, with 3 goals in 3 starts so far this Premier League season.
Player to Watch
The Ivorian has been bereft of confidence in the 2020/21 season and people have started drawing comparisons with other big money flops right now. Pepe has pace but his lack of end product does not justify the price tag and his performances this season have been a letdown.
Up against a young James Justin who has been in form, Pepe’s skills will be put to test and he will have to do more than just knock the ball past his oppositions to aid Arsenal in their quest to win all three points against Leicester.
Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City
The Foxes have not been able to score in their last two Premier League games and we expect this game to continue, with the odds increasing even more if Brendan Rodgers doesn’t name Jamie Vardy in the starting eleven. Arsenal, on the other hand, have the players among the ones available that could provide the individual brilliance necessary in the final third.
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for the two sides. However, Mikel Arteta’s project is coming along nicely and we could actually see Arsenal earn a narrow 1-0 win over Leicester.