Arsenal vs Leicester City
K/O: 20:00 hours
Venue: The Emirates
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Leicester City travel to the Emirates on Monday night with the hosts hoping to extend their winning run to 10 straight games.
The Gunners have moved to within two points of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the table as they continue to thrive under Unai Emery and it will without doubt be a difficult task for Puel’s men to derail the Gunners streak under Emery. There is significant momentum around this Arsenal squad currently and having won nine in a row in all competitions, including six consecutive league victories the hype is understandable.
The two clubs fortunes were of varying contrasts before the international break as the Gunners ran rampant at a destitute Fulham in a 5-1 victory. As for the Foxes, they fell short at home against Everton in a 2-1 defeat. The defeat for the Foxes could be partly in-hand due to the sending off of Wes Morgan who will consequently miss the fixture.
Leicester pushed the Gunners all the way in their last visit to the Emirates with Arsenal needing a late Olivier Giroud goal to gain three points in a 4-3 thriller. The Foxes did get their revenge however last May as they seen off Arsenal 3-1 at the King Power.
This was Leicester’s first victory over Arsenal since 1994 so they will be hopeful to continue this trend come Monday evening. Having said this, Leicester will have to be stubborn and compact to keep out Lacazette and Aubameyang as both are in sensational form. The former however has this week been mentioning the poorer atmosphere in the Premier League in comparison to France and Ligue 1 and it would be no surprise if the travelling Leicester fans gave him a hard time in London on Monday night.
Arsenal: Emery has a number of selection dilemmas ahead of the trip of Leicester. The most recent of the Gunners team to be forced to the injury table is Sokratis. The Greek centre-half will likely be assessed before Monday after returning from the international break with an ankle problem yet Emery has suggested it is doubtful that he will take part.
Alongside Sokratis, Peter Cech will face a late test on the hamstring issue which he sustained during the Everton fixture. Emery informed the media that Cech was getting better but was not training with the group. Even if fit, he will unlikely be given the nod in front of a fully-fit Leno who will be between the sticks at the Emirates.
Other than the two defensive frailties mentioned above Emery has a fully fit squad. Danny Welbeck has recovered from a hamstring issue which saw him sent home from England duty and Mesut Ozil is fit after missing the Fulham fixture with back spasms. Midfielder, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also available after his fractured leg which he sustained on the opening weekend in the home defeat against Manchester City. Due to his circumstances, he will likely be rested but if needed Emery can call upon him. Laurent Koscielny and Mavropanos remain sidelined.
Despite a few injury issues, Emery has a fully fit squad at his disposal meaning if he wanted, he could start with the same XI that dispatched Fulham so expertly before the international break. Yet due to Aubameyang returning to full fitness, he will likely slot straight back in for Emery’s men.
Leicester: The main news surrounding this Leicester side is the absence of captain Wes Morgan who received his second red card of the season in the home fixture vs Everton. As a result of his suspension, Jonny Evans will likely slot into centre-half alongside Harry Maguire. The Northern Irishman has not enjoyed a constant spell in the side since his transfer from West Brom yet with Morgan absence for two games, he will consider this his chance to break into the XI.
Demarai Gray, who picked up an ankle injury in Leicester’s Carabao Cup fixture made some positive progress over the international break yet this fixture will likely be too soon for him. As a result, the midfield and attacking outfits are unlikely to change from the Everton fixture with the rest of the side fully fit.
Jamie Vardy will be looking to continue his impressive form against the top six sides on Monday. Between both fixtures last season, Leicester’s number nine scored three goals and having recently announced his retirement from international football he will be fully rested and ready for a tough test. Emery has noted the threat that Vardy holds and stated during the week that ‘he has talent, his speed helps for counter-press. On Monday we will not want to give him possibilities to continue scoring against us’. He will without doubt get opportunities and he will be eager to help his side in trying to gain all three points.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Arsenal: (4-2-3-1) Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Xhaka, Torreira; Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Leicester: (4-2-3-1) Schmeichel; Amartey, Maguire, Evans, Chilwell; Mendy, Ndidi; Pereira, Iheanacho, Maddison; Vardy
Score Prediction: Arsenal 3 Leicester City 2
Based on last season’s fixtures, Monday night is surely going to see goals. Arsenals attack is simply on fire and Leicester will struggle to keep them at bay. Having said this, Leicester’s attack isn’t too bad either and it is hard to see the Foxes not scoring at the Emirates. This will be the 140th meeting between the two sides and Arsenal have the superior record between the two, winning 65 compared to Leicester’s 30, with 44 draws. Therefore, an Arsenal win considering their form in recent outings and in this fixture, is surely the most likely.