Saturday 26th September – 3pm – King Power Stadium
Leicester City’s unbeaten record faces its biggest challenge yet as Arsenal visit the King Power Stadium tomorrow. The Foxes are the only side yet to lose in the top flight in 2015-16, and but had to come from two goals down to draw 2-2 away at Stoke City last weekend before beating West Ham 2-1 in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. Arsenal meanwhile lost 2-0 at Chelsea but recovered to beat North London rivals Tottenham 2-1 in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday. Claudio Ranieri’s arrival at Leicester doesn’t seem to have affected the East Midlands side, who have continued on from their great form at the end of last season and currently sit fourth in table, one place above the Gunners, who are able to overtake them on Saturday. Ranieri himself has admitted that it Arsenal’s Premier League trophy drought is “surprising”. The last time the North London side won the title in 2003-04, the Italian was in charge of Chelsea…
- On-loan winger Nathan Dyer will miss the visit of Arsenal as he remains troubled by a knee injury.
- Matty James is still absent, but Claudio Ranieri has otherwise reported a clean bill of health.
- Kasper Schmeichel, Ritchie De Laet, Wes Morgan, Danny Drinkwater, Ngolo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are all expected to return to the starting line-up after being rested in the League Cup.
- The Gunners will be without defender Gabriel who is serving a one-match ban for improper conduct.
- Santi Cazorla returns after a one-match suspension but defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin is sidelined by a minor knee injury.
- Jack Wilshere has had an operation on a hairline fracture in his left fibula, while forward Danny Welbeck and Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky (both knee) are also sidelined.
The Key Battle: Riyad Mahrez vs Nacho Monreal
One of the main reasons why Leicester are doing so well at the moment is the impressive form of winger Riyad Mahrez, who already has five goals (the same as Arsenal’s whole team) and assists this season – making him the Premier League’s joint top scorer.
His performances have led to claims that tomorrow’s opponents the Gunners and even Champions League holders Barcelona are scouting the Algerian, and if that’s true, Arsene Wenger will get a close up view tomorrow.
A player who was reported to be leaving the Emirates Stadium this summer was Nacho Monreal, but a string of impressive performances from the Spaniard means that he now could be in line for a new contract in North London.
Monreal is keeping Kieran Gibbs out of the team as he attacks promisingly whilst also defending confidently and helping Arsenal keep three clean sheets this season. How will he fare against the division’s joint top scoring side?
Leicester City wins = 27 / Arsenal wins = 56 / Draws = 39
*According to www.arsenal-world.co.uk
Last Meeting: Arsenal 2-1 Leicester City (10th February 2015)
Arsenal moved into the Premier League top four with a win that left then bottom club Leicester City five points adrift of safety. Mesut Ozil whipped in a corner for Laurent Koscielny to tap in from close range and later saw a shot saved, allowing Theo Walcott to volley home. But the Foxes rallied as Andrej Kramaric scored a first goal in English football with a low second-half shot. He was also denied late on by keeper David Ospina as the Gunners held on. [BBC]
Claudio Ranieri: “I think to beat Arsenal we must play the perfect match, and also have some very good luck. Arsene Wenger can put Alexis Sanchez in goal and Petr Cech up front and Arsenal will still have a great team.”
Arsene Wenger: “They [Leicester] had a very strong finish last season. They scouted very well and the emergence of players like Mahrez and Jamie Vardy make them dangerous.”
The Referee – Craig Pawson
- Last Premier League game: Sunderland 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur (13th September 2015) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
- Last Leicester City game: Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester City (7th December 2015) – 8 yellow cards, 1 red card
- Last Arsenal game: Southampton 2-0 Arsenal (1st January 2015) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Stat of the Match
- Leicester are without a win against Arsenal in their last 17 league games dating back to November 1994. It is the Foxes’ longest top-flight winless streak against another club.
Where can I watch it?
As it is a 3pm kick-off, the game is not live on BT or Sky, but there will probably be a stream on the internet if you want to watch it. Alternatively, commentary will be exclusively live on arsenal.com from 2:30pm, and the highlights will be shown on Match of the Day on Saturday evening at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Leicester City 1-2 Arsenal
I think that Leicester’s unbeaten run will come to an end, with Arsenal winning a tight game 2-1. Arsene Wenger knows that his side needs to win this game to keep up with the title race and the Gunners will be high on confidence after winning the North London derby in midweek. However, I do think Leicester will take the lead through Jamie Vardy, before goals from Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey earn victory for the visitors.