Trigger-happy Alexis Is Bound To Score Soon
Match Preview – Leicester vs Arsenal – Premier League – 26.09.15
What an incredible game the Capital One Cup 3rd round match against Tottenham was. It won’t go down as one of Arsenal most authoritative displays but the winning brace from the most unlikeliest of sources, Mathieu Flamini, will go down in Gunners lore. Who wouldn’t bet on Arsenal taking this result to Leicester and using the confidence to bag another three points?
Confidence should never be underestimated and The Gunners were probably short on it going into that match at White Hart Lane having lost their previous two matches on the trot. However, they dug in, took their chances and kept Tottenham largely at bay. Flamini, a figure of ridicule for some Gooners unhappy with their perceived direction of the team, took his chance with aplomb and showed us all why Arsène Wenger took a chance on him in August 2013. He wasn’t just sharp in front of goal, he also offered defensive stability, work-rate and tactical awareness.
Francis Coquelin will miss this game having not started training since he picked up a swollen knee against Chelsea but Arteta and Flamini proved that there are certain games in which they can be relied upon to cover for the young Frenchman. You would expect that Leicester would be one of them.
The Foxes have started the season well and are so far unbeaten. It’s unlikely they will be able to maintain their good start but it’s not a certainty we will beat them. They are playing at home – although we have excellent form on the road – and as mentioned earlier, confidence should never be underestimated and Leicester will have it in abundance at the moment.
Algerian international Riyad Mahrez, the saviour of my fantasy team, has been a revelation for Ranieri’s team and has earned admiring looks from many big teams; Arsenal included. He will pose a danger to Arsenal and how we deal with his threat will be key to the result.
Santi Cazorla is available for selection after serving a one match ban for being sent off against Chelsea. I do not wish to continue banging the ‘hard done by referees’ drum but it still rankles that Santi was sent off for making just two fouls whilst throat-grabbers like Zouma get off scot-free. Although Costa was banned so that is a small comfort.
Another potential player returning from suspension, or some weird form of suspension purgatory, is Gabriel. The Brazilian defender was omitted from the squad for the Spurs game before he had his red card overturned by an independent panel of ex-referees and Wenger was not inclined to include him having already made his preparations. Oddly, he has been involved in preparations for the trip to Leicester, or the Alan Smith derby, yet could be banned later on today for misconduct.
Alexis Sanchez was an incredible force for change on Wednesday when he came on to improve Arsenal’s creativity and he will be desperate to get off the mark this season. If any of our players will be working their socks off to have a good game it will be Alexis.
Arsenal should have more than enough to see off Leicester but we’ve made that mistake before so eradicating complacency should be our top priority in preparation. With Per Mertesacker back in the team offering stability, awareness and a sage voice we should be better at the set-pieces that have cost us dearly in the past few weeks.
Arsenal from; Cech, Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Monreal, Gabriel, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Chambers, Reine-Adelaide, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Özil, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud.
Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Flamini, Özil, Alexis, Ramsey, Walcott
I expect to see substitute appearances from Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla.
“Arsene can put Alexis Sanchez in goal and Petr Cech up front and Arsenal will still have a great team” – Claudio Ranieri
Last 2 Meetings
- Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (10.02.2015)
- Leicester 1-1 Arsenal (31.08.2014)
- Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (15.05.2004 (P38 L0))
Arsenal Last 5
Leicester Last 5
Leicester have been the surprise of the season so far and sit fourth in the Barclays Premier League table with 12 points from six matches, two points clear of Arsenal who need a win to leapfrog the home team.
Claudio Ranieri has been generous with his praise of Arsenal in the build up to this match stating:
“We are only thinking about Arsenal. We are ready, but they are a smart and fast team. They will fight for the title. To beat Arsenal we must play the perfect match. They don’t have weaknesses, but even if they did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
Ranieri has also commented that, despite being unbeaten, the Foxes cannot afford to keep coming from behind to claim points. This could lead Leicester to attempt to employ the ubiquitous English tactic of trying to frustrate Arsenal and hit them on the counter which could be a problem for the Gunners with Mahrez is such good form.
Leicester will have to make do without Matthew James and Nathan Dyer who are both missing through injury.
- Mahrez has been involved in 8 league goals this season; more than any other player
- Leicester haven’t beaten Arsenal since the 1994/95 season with 11 defeats and 6 draws
- Alexis has had more shots on goal (31) than any other player this season but is yet to score
- Arsenal have only failed to score against Leicester once in 18 league meetings
- Leicester have the highest proportion of long balls played by any team in the league this season (21.3%)
- Arsenal have the lowest (7.4%)
3-1 to Arsenal. I fancy us to find our scoring touch with Alexis finally breaking his duck.
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