The Big Match Preview: Arsenal vs Leicester City

arsenal-vs-leicester-soccer1x2_net_

Sunday 14th February – 12:00 – Emirates Stadium

After winning 3-1 at Manchester City last weekend, league leaders Leicester City play another one of their title rivals on Sunday as they take a trip to Arsenal. The incredible form of the Foxes continues to surprise everyone, and they are now the bookmakers favourites to lift the trophy in May. But the Gunners are one of only two teams along with Liverpool to have beaten them this season, when they were 5-2 victors in September. Arsene Wenger’s team currently sit in third having beaten Bournemouth 2-0 last weekend, ending a four-match winless run in the league. They haven’t lost to Leicester in the league since 1994 (that’s 18 games), so you could say they were the favourites for this one. But what does that count for in this fascinating Premier League campaign? It’s sure to be a thoroughly entertaining encounter at the Emirates Stadium, and one that could all but end the hosts’ title dreams or put them right back on track.

Team News

Arsenal

  • The Gunners have no new injury worries ahead of the visit of the league leaders.
  • Francis Coquelin is pushing for a recall, while Danny Welbeck could be included for the first time this season following a long-term knee injury.
  • Santi Cazorla (knee), Tomas Rosicky (thigh) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) have all been ruled out.

Leicester City

  • The Foxes are expected to be unchanged from the win at Manchester City, meaning Shinji Okazaki will continue in a supporting role behind loan striker Jamie Vardy.
  • January signing Daniel Amartey is still not under consideration as he continues to build up his match fitness.
  • Long-term absentees Jeff Schlupp and Matty James (knee) are not ready to return.

The Key Battle: Alexis Sanchez vs Robert Huth

CREDIT: PA IMAGES/NIGEL FRENCH
CREDIT: PA IMAGES/NIGEL FRENCH

If reports are to be believed, Alexis Sanchez could sign a new £180,000 a week contract at Arsenal in the summer to make him the equal best paid player in the club’s history.

It would certainly be a fitting reward if the Chilean helped the Gunners to win the Premier League title – something that looks increasingly unlikely but a win against Leicester will see them just two points off top spot.

Half of Sanchez’s six league goals this season came against the Foxes in the reverse fixture at the King Power, when Robert Huth and co shipped five goals in a game – the most they have this season.

The German centre-back has featured in all but one of Leicester’s fixtures this season, but in fact the league leaders have conceded more goals than any other team in the top five (27). They have however, kept clean sheets in five of their last seven matches.

Huth has still earned high praise for his performances, and has even helped higher up the pitch, proving a threat at corners. It was a threat that Manchester City failed to deal with last week, as the 31 year old scored twice at the Etihad Stadium to effectively win the game for Leicester. He also scored the only goal against Tottenham in January – can he make it three out of three against the Foxes’ top four opponents?

Previous Meetings

Arsenal wins = 62 / Leicester City wins = 29 / Draws = 43

*According to http://www.11v11.com

Last Meeting: Leicester City 2-5 Arsenal (26th September 2015)

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Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez rediscovered his goalscoring touch as his hat-trick ended Leicester’s unbeaten start to the season. Jamie Vardy had put the Foxes ahead with a superb finish from a tight angle after a clinical counter attack. Theo Walcott equalised when Leicester were themselves caught on the break. Sanchez then took control of the contest with his treble – the pick his third from long range – as Vardy and Olivier Giroud netted late on. [BBC]

Managers Quotes

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Arsene Wenger: “They are in a position still where they think that they have nothing to lose. But once you’re on top of the league you can think that now you can lose what you have. And that’s where the nerves come in a little bit. I don’t know how they will respond to that. I believe there is still a long way to go. It was very important for us to win (last) Sunday and I think we are back to our normal level.”

Claudio Ranieri: “The pressure’s on the others. Tell me why we have pressure? Why must I feel pressure? We just continue to dream with our fans. This time I hope the bookmakers are right. They’re just words though, not points. Give me points!”

The Referee – Martin Atkinson

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/TONY MARSHALL
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/TONY MARSHALL
  • Last Premier League game: Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City (6th February 2016) – 1 yellow card, 0 red cards
  • Last Arsenal game: Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland (9th January 2016) – 1 yellow card, 0 red cards
  • Last Leicester City game: Liverpool 1-0 Leicester City (26th December 2015) – 3 yellow cards, 0 red cards

2015-16 Record: Games = 32 / Yellow cards = 111 / Red cards = 0 / Penalties = 2

Infographic (courtesy of Sporticos)

Sporticos_com_arsenal_fc_vs_leicester_city

All stats from Premier League only and correct up until 13/02/2016

Stat of the Match

Arsenal are the only team that can complete a league double over Leicester this season.

Where Can I Watch It?

The game in North London kicks-off the most Super Sunday of them all on Sky Sports 1, with coverage starting at 11:30am – the match begins half an hour later. Highlights will then be on BBC Two’s Match of the Day 2 on Sunday evening 10pm.

My Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Leicester City

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL REGAN
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/MICHAEL REGAN

It’s likely to be a very open game at the Emirates, with Arsenal’s desire for the win likely to result in Leicester playing their effective counter attack football. The first goal could be crucial in this game, and I think Arsenal will score it through Mesut Ozil. I do however think that two goals from Riyad Mahrez will give the Foxes a lead, and social media will go into meltdown once again. But a late Alexis Sanchez strike will rescue a point for the Gunners – a result that the visitors will be much happier with.

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