Writing about Arsenal these days is a laborious task. Given the run of the last few months, you just ask yourself – how many times can you say exactly the same thing. Then something like an FA Cup Semi-Final win happens and you are sucked back in and suddenly you are looking forward to Arsenal v Leicester in the Premier League.
If we’re realistic in our assessments there is still plenty to be worried about. The biggest fact that remains is that Arsenal haven’t won back-to-back Premier League matches since January. While the revised formation has given Arsenal some stability we still look a little hesitant on the ball.
The win over City in the FA Cup Semi-Final may have temporarily banished some of the negatives. We did see a team that looked up for a match and wasn’t playing within themselves. Wenger played his substitutes well and his overall game plan against City seemed well thought out.
Now the question is – can they maintain it. When Arsenal beat West Ham 3-0 the general hope was that they were pulling themselves out of the morass that they had gotten themselves into. How wrong we were as Arsenal only managed to slip further and further away from any recognizable team we’ve ever seen.
The hope, at least my hope is that advancing to the final after beating a good City side has lifted the general spirit of the players and the manager and that they build off of it. They face off against a resurgent Leicester squad that once looked set for a relegation scrap but has managed to arrest that slide and are performing once again.
Last year it was Arsenal that seemed to be the only team that could beat Leicester on their magical run to the title. Taking both matches away from the eventual champions was bittersweet as we finished as runner ups, we need to follow suit and take this match so we can build some momentum for the rest of the season.
However, we do have to establish some realistic expectations. Even winning today, the top 4 could be out of reach. Sure anything can happen but we needed some of those important points we dropped in February through April free fall.
Other teams will have issues and we still have games in hand but the fact remains is that we’ve done ourselves no favors in our quest for our minimum target – Champion’s League football. Arsenal stand on the precipice of being out of Europe altogether (not entirely a bad idea) and having to travel to GodKnowsWhereIstan on Thursdays in the Europa League.
Personally, I’d like us to end the season on a good solid run and finish with the FA Cup title. Let the chips fall where they may in the aftermath of the season.
It feels good looking forward to a match again. Let’s hope the Arsenal don’t disappoint and continue to build off of this weekend’s fantastic result.
Players to Watch Out For:
Arsenal. Rob Holding. Hey we don’t want to overhype the lad but clearly he is the 2nd coming of Tony Adams.
Leicester. Jamie Vardy. No party for Vardy. Will he rue not taking the offer from Arsenal?
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Mustafi (thigh), Cazorla (foot)
Leicester: Morgan (hamstring), Slimani (groin), Mendy (ankle), Wague (shoulder)
Goals Scored (avg per season)
Goals Allowed (avg per season)
Referee: Mike Jones (16M 51Y 1R)
Assistants: A Garratt, M Scholes
Fourth official: B Madley
UK: Arsenal.com 19.45 GMT
US: NBC Sports Network 2:45 PM GMT
The Manager’s Take (Courtesy Arsenal.com)
“Look, he has moved from Leicester to Chelsea and has been voted the best player at Leicester last year and the best player of the league this year, so it just tells you how big a player he is,” said Wenger.
“I think if you lose that kind of player, every single club would miss him. How much? I don’t know because Leicester had a difficult time at the start of the season but they did well in the Champions League even without him. Recently they have had great results in the Premier League, so they have found the balance again, but you miss always a player of that quality.
“We need to be aware of their counter-attacking, their pace on the counter-attack. You want to attack without exposing yourself. They have found defensive security again, and they have kept their threat on the long balls, on counter-attacks and with Jamie Vardy’s pace.”
Match Facts: (Courtesy FourFourTwo.com via Opta)
- Leicester are on a 20 game winless run against Arsenal in the Premier League (D7 L13), with their only win against the Gunners coming in their first ever Premier League encounter in November 1994 (2-1 victory).
- Arsenal have won each of their last nine Premier League home encounters with Leicester City; the longest current run in the division.
- In fact, if the Gunners beat the Foxes, it will equal their longest home winning streak against a single club (10 successive wins against Everton between Jan 1997 – Sept 2005).
- Theo Walcott has found the net in three of his four Premier League appearances against Leicester, including in both home games.
- Jamie Vardy has scored Leicester City’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.
- Vardy has scored seven goals in 10 competitive games for Leicester under Craig Shakespeare, this after netting seven goals in 32 games in 2016-17 under Claudio Ranieri for the Foxes.
- Alexis Sánchez has now scored 19 Premier League goals this season; equalling his best-ever tally in a single league season (19 with Barcelona in 2013-14).
- Should Sánchez score another Premier League goal this season, he’ll be the fifth Arsenal player to score 20+ goals in a PL campaign after Thierry Henry (5 times), Ian Wright (2 times), Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. Robin van Persie was the last to do this (30 goals in 2011-12).
- The Gunners will be looking to win back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time in over three months (Jan 22nd 2017), following their 2-1 win at Middlesbrough in their previous game.
- Leicester City have scored at least two goals in every one of their seven Premier League matches under Craig Shakespeare (17 goals in total). Their previous 17 Premier League goals came over a period of 20 matches.