MATCH PREVIEW: ARSENAL LOOK TO WIN FIFTH STRAIGHT VS LEICESTER CITY
Arsenal look to take their impressive resurgence back to the friendly confines of Emirates Stadium as Leicester City come to North London. For the Gunners, the match represents a chance to continue their impressive form and look for their fifth straight win and lay a stronger claim on a top 4 spot.
Everything for the Gunners has worked of late. The system is creating chances and the players are giving a full account of themselves. That has led to this recent run of form that has seen them win 4 straight, 4 straight on the road and 8 out of their last 10 matches (8W 1L 1D). Outside of Manchester City and Liverpool there is no more consistent team in the league at this moment. Mikel Arteta (and Edu) have shaped a squad in their vision and it is starting to pay off.
Still, there is a road to travel and their will be hiccups along the way and overlooking Leicester, even without Jamie Vardy (out due to injury), would be to the detriment of the Gunners. Much like they did in the away tie, the Arsenal need to establish the tempo of the match from the first whistle and attack Leicester. This is a team that struggles defensively and Arsenal need to capitalize on that.
Arsenal get a boost this weekend with the return of Emile Smith-Rowe after having tested positive for COVID. The only doubt remains the continued absence of Tomiyasu. Tomiyasu is having his return managed after suffering a second calf injury after recovering from his first. Still, even if Tomiyasu is out, Cedric has managed to play the deputy role quite well. For the visiting Leicester, Vardy is out, is are Fofana, Bertrand and Castagne.
About the Visitors
Leicester city has had a rocky winter journey, drawing and losing matches that would help them secure a somewhat honorable position in the league. Unfortunately this isn’t something new, as they have had the same problems the last couple of seasons as well. Perhaps whatever spell Brendan Rogers conjured during his initial season at the club has been broken. Maybe they still have a valid warranty on him? Could they possibly return him to Celtic without the receipt?
Setting up in, what initially looks like, a 433, Leicester likes to flow into a 343/532 defensive formation. The defensive formation looks to be mainly based on trying to discourage the opposition to run at defenders in central areas.
Leicester’s defense has been rather rattled lately, shipping something close to a goal per game, until the last two matches against new kid on the block Jesse Marsch’ Leeds and definitely-getting-relegated Burnley.
Against the Hammers, Leicester seemed to have trouble penetrating the mid block West Ham set, banking on long balls towards Daka and Barnes. When they did enter the final third, the Foxes mainly banked on individually brilliance of Tielemans or Barnes to create something.
When defending against Leicester City, Arsenal should look to break passing options into the midfield, especially towards Tielemans, as most of what Leicester City is creating is through his influence. Besides that, the Gunners should remember that they’re up against an opponent with multiple people who are comfortable with hitting one from outside the box. Defending the central areas should be key.
When attacking Leicester City, Arsenal should look to abuse the Foxes backline, who has looked shaky at times, with Jack of all trades Amartey, being handed his third position so far. Either pushing down Leicester’s left wing or trying to recreated Jarred Bowens goal against Leicester early on, would leave Leicester to go on a sustained offence, which haven’t been the best look for them.
What to Expect
A team full of confidence is a team that feels like it can take on the world. The Gunners should come into this match knowing that they can play well against all opponents. Leicester are well coached team that are struggling and its the perfect recipe for the Arsenal to continue to build on their past performances. All that being said no game was ever won here in the ether of printed pieces and the game can take on a life of itself. That is why how the Gunners start is so important.
Given the feelings within the team right, I don’t see that being a problem and Arsenal have to be seen as the favorites to come away with all three points.
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
Well I agree that they’ve been much more consistent in terms of performances and results. It’s a team that has come a long, long way and I think Brendan [Rodgers] and the coaching staff have done exceptional work, they have a lot of injuries as well, I believe this season, plus the Covid issues that we’ve all been through, it’s a difficult mixture and it’s been difficult for all managers, but as you said, they’re now in a better moment.
The competition in this league is incredibly tough and, again, there are injuries, there are performances, the amount of games, what we went through last year as well with the amount of games that we have to play, everything basically plays dividend at the end, but they are certainly a really good side.
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League only)
18W 8D 5L
Goals Scored (Season Average)
Arsenal (Home): 1.69
Leicester City (Away): 1.5
Goals Conceded (Season Average)
Arsenal (Home): 0.76
Leicester City (Away): 2.08
xG per Match (via fbref.com)
Arsenal (Home): 1.76
Leicester City (Away): 1.38
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Robert Jones
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Richard West
Match Facts (courtesy bbc.co.uk)
- Arsenal won the reverse fixture 2-0 and are looking to complete a league double over Leicester for the first time in six seasons.
- However, Leicester could win back-to-back away league games against the Gunners for the first time. Last season’s 1-0 victory ended their 23-match winless league run away to Arsenal.
- Arsenal have won eight of their past 10 games in the Premier League (D1, L1).
- The 25 points they have accrued during that period is the joint-most in the division, alongside Manchester City.
- The Gunners could become the first team to win five consecutive Premier League matches by a one-goal margin since Birmingham City in November and December 2009.
- Mikel Arteta’s side have scored 22 Premier League goals by players aged 21 or under this season, twice as many as next-best Crystal Palace.
- Bukayo Saka has been directly involved in nine goals in Arsenal’s last 10 league games, scoring six and setting up three