Arsenal will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions when they take on Leicester City on Saturday.
Momentum is often a key factor when it comes to football. The current form of a team is often perceived as a label of their strength. In Arsenal’s case, they are one of the most in-form teams in the Premier League at the moment. Since the 5-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City, the club from North London has gone on to win six of their eight matches in all competitions, remaining unbeaten in the process.
But how good Mikel Arteta’s men have truly been? We will soon find out as the Gunners travel to King Power Stadium to face Leicester City this weekend. During Arsenal’s run of eight unbeaten games, they were up against only one genuine top-six club in Tottenham Hotspur. Six of their eight opponents are now either in the bottom half of the Premier League table or belong to the lower division.
Their weekend opponent Leicester City haven’t been without their faults. After missing out on the top four places for the second time last season, Brendan Rodgers’ men have collected only 14 points in nine matches this term.
The team has struggled in the defensive side of things, having conceded the joint highest number of goals in the top half of the table. The Foxes, though, are coming on the back of four consecutive wins in all competitions, with a considerable chance of breaking into the top six by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their crucial matchup at the King Power Stadium.
Team News & Tactics
In what has been a chaotic start to the campaign, Brendan Rodgers will be demanding a bit more defensive stability from his team this weekend. And an Arsenal side that has scored only one away goal and registered nine shots on target away from home could be an ideal opposition for the Foxes to enhance their defensive numbers.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 29, 2021
However, the former Liverpool boss is missing out on a few key defensive operators in Wesley Fofana and James Justin. Their star player Caglar Soyuncu has struggled with form as well and needs to rediscover his trademark understanding with Jonny Evans in the Leicester City backline.
With Fofana out injured and new signing Jannik Vestergaard offering below-par performances, Rodgers might persist with Daniel Amartey on the right-hand side of the back three. Additional defensive aid will be provided by the wing-backs Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne.
However, Leicester’s key strong point is their impeccable midfield unit. Despite the injuries to Wilfred Ndidi and Nampalys Mendy, the team’s star player Youri Tielemans has built a formidable partnership alongside summer arrival Boubakary Soumare. The duo dominated Manchester United about a week ago and are hoping for a similar result against the depleted Arsenal midfield this weekend.
Meanwhile, in the offensive unit, James Maddison remains a likely starter in the number ten slot. The Englishman’s ability to produce balls in behind the backline serves well for opportunistic and pacy forwards like Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho.
However, Rodgers has no shortage of options and can always deploy the more robust figure of Patson Daka. The Zambian has been in good form, with two-goal involvements in the last two league matches. His dynamism, pace and robust style of play could make life difficult for Ben White, who is often ineffective in one-on-one duels.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Amartey, Evans, Soyuncu; Pereira, Tielemans, Soumare, Castagne; Maddison; Iheanacho, Vardy
Lack of chance creation has been a major problem for Arsenal this season. The north Londoners have struggled to find clear cut openings, while the mixed form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hasn’t helped matters either.
Set and ready for #LEIARS 👊
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 29, 2021
It has even prompted coach Mikel Arteta to deploy Alexandre Lacazette alongside the Gabonese international in recent matches. The Frenchman usually operates in a more withdrawn role, where he is usually utilised as a hold-up player who can create layoffs for runners like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe in the final third.
Arsenal are a lot more disciplined in midfield and defence, though. They had rested a host of their key players in the midweek game as well, which means Thomas Partey will be starting this game, hoping to orchestrate the proceedings and put his box-to-box qualities to good use.
The former Atletico Madrid star is likely to be partnered with new signing Albert Sambi Lokonga, filling in for the injured Granit Xhaka. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny are other options for Mikel Arteta.
As for the defence, Kieran Tierney appears to be a major doubt heading into this contest. The Scotland international has missed quite a few matches and midweek’s rest for Nuno Tavares indicates that the former Celtic starlet might not be fit to start against Leicester City either.
New signing Ben White is expected to overcome his illness to start alongside Gabriel Magalhaes at the heart of the Arsenal backline that protects Aaron Ramsdale in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Partey, Lokonga; Saka, Lacazette, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang
- After a 22-game winless run against Arsenal in the Premier League between 1995 and 2018, Leicester City have won four of their last seven against the Gunners in the competition.
- Arsenal won twice away against Leicester City last season – 2-0 in the League Cup and 3-1 in the Premier League. They’ve not won three consecutive away games against the Foxes in all competitions since September 1925.
- Leicester have won their last two Premier League games, beating Manchester United and Brentford and are looking for three consecutive league wins for the first time since winning their first three games in 2021.
- Having lost consecutive away Premier League games at the start of February (vs Wolves & Aston Villa), Arsenal have since lost just two of their 11 league games on the road (W6 D3). However, the Gunners have won just one of their last 12 Premier League matches on a Saturday that kicked off before 1 pm, beating Fulham on MD1 last season.
- Arsenal have scored just one goal in their four Premier League away games so far this season, with only Norwich (6) having fewer attempts on target on the road than the Gunners (9).
Player to Watch
⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ Patson Daka's unforgettable performance in Moscow 🇿🇲
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) October 23, 2021
After a slow start to the season that saw him earn just one appearance in the first seven league games, Patson Daka has emerged as the star attraction in this Leicester City team right now.
The former RB Salzburg forward has been involved in two goals in the last two league matches, notably scoring in the 4-2 win over Manchester United. The Zambian has performed extremely well in Europe, too, netting three times in four outings, though all of them came in the entertaining 4-3 win over Spartak Moscow last week.
Although Daka may still have to wait before earning his first Premier League start, he is set to be a potential game-changer in this game. As mentioned earlier, his physique could pose a problem for White and Gabriel, who are not very effective when it comes to direct duels. Rodgers will certainly be aware of the weakness and will look to unleash the 23-year-old in the second half.
Leicester City 1-0 Arsenal
This upcoming game between Leicester City and Arsenal promises to be a low scoring encounter. The Foxes have been very leaky at the back this season, but they are up against a team that holds a defensive mentality and will remain resolute at the back. At the same time, the Gunners lack creativity going forward.
To that end, we expect Arsenal to struggle to find a breakthrough while Leicester remain favourites to win due to their superior offensive unit and the added home support. Patson Daka, in particular, could make his presence felt this weekend.