Welbeck to down the Foxes again?
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Leicester – Premier League – 26.04.2017
There is a sense of optimism ahead of an Arsenal match for what feels like the first time this year. Arsenal’s extra time victory over Manchester City showed the sort of determination and concentration that Arsenal has lacked for the greater part of this calendar year. It’s vitally important for Arsenal to keep this up ahead of the FA Cup final in May.
With 120 minutes in their legs and Tottenham to play on Sunday some rotation of the team should be expected. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – a revelation at right wing-back in our new 3-4-3 formation – is carrying a knock so will likely start on the bench and be replaced by Hector Bellerin. It would be interesting to see Kieran Gibbs on the other side as two fast wing-backs should cause problems for the Foxes’ slow back-line.
Danny Welbeck, the hero of this fixture last season, should be fit for a start and would cause more of a headache for a Leicester defence sans Morgan than Giroud. again return to lead the attack? His pace could be key against a Foxes defence who will be without captain Wes Morgan.
Other changes will likely see Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and Alex Iwobi feature although it is unlikely that Alexis Sanchez will be rested at this vital juncture. Finishing in the top four is a tall order and a 22nd consecutive St Totteringham’s day is even more unlikely.
However, Arsenal do have a game in hand over Tottenham who play Crystal Palace where an Eagles win and an Arsenal victory would put Arsenal 8 points behind before playing Sp*rs on Sunday. Best case scenario is Arsenal are 5 points behind with four games left. The odds have looked better but Arsenal have knack of capitalising on Sp*rs screw-ups.
That said, Arsenal’s focus must now be on finishing the season strongly, irrespective of what Tottenham do, to enter May’s FA Cup final with a strong tailwind.
Under Craig Shakespeare’s leadership Leicester have won 5 of their last 7 league matches. It’s unlikely they’ll be pulled into the relegation scrap from their current position but they have a dangerous team and will want to make things certain.
A win for Arsenal will be their first set of back to back league victories since January. It’s imperative the Gunners deliver here.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Martinez, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud.
“What’s more important is the team spirit and that’s why I insist that we have to transfer that into the Premier League.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Leicester 0-0 Arsenal (20.08.2016)
- Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (14.02.2016)
- Leicester 2-5 Arsenal (26.09.2015)
Leicester are without a win in four games and defensively fragile without their captain and linchpin Wes Morgan. Without the assuring presence of N’Golo Kanté the reigning Champions have found form hard to come by this season. Once Arsenal target Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his scoring touch though. Leicester have the players to cause most teams a headache – Arsenal will have to ensure they’ve gotten over their 2017 melancholy and ennui lest the Foxes heap some misery on them.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in 20 league games against Leicester (W14, D6), and have won three of the last four meetings.
- The Gunners have won nine of the 10 times they have hosted Leicester in the Premier League. The only blip was the first of those meetings, a 1-1 draw in north London in 1995.
- It’s a match between the two teams who finished first and second in last season’s Premier League.
- Arsenal have lost three of their last six Premier League matches (W2, D1).
- They haven’t won back-to-back league games since January.
- The Gunners have 57 points after 31 games. After 31 games last season they had 58 points and eventually finished second.
- Theo Walcott has found the net in three of his four Premier League appearances against Leicester, including in both home games.
- Alexis Sanchez has scored 19 Premier League goals this season. One more would make him the fifth Arsenal player to score 20+ goals in a Premier League campaign (after Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor.
- Leicester have won five of their last seven league matches (D1, L1).
- The Foxes have picked up four points in their three Premier League away games under Craig Shakespeare, more than they had managed in the previous 13 under Claudio Ranieri.
- Leicester have scored at least two goals in every one of their seven Premier League matches under Shakespeare (17 goals in total). Their previous 17 Premier League goals came over a period of 20 matches.
- Jamie Vardy has been involved in eight goals in his last seven Premier League appearances since Shakespeare’s appointment (six goals, two assists). He has scored Leicester’s last three goals against Arsenal in the Premier League, scoring the opening goal twice. However, he is yet to end up on the winning side.
- Three of Robert Huth’s last five Premier League goals for Leicester City have come away to London sides.
The optimist in me is going for a 3-0 win for Arsenal.
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