Leicester Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups
Saturday’s football action showcased the excitement of the Premier League as Manchester United continued to struggle under Louis van Gaal. The most shocking result of the day was Mark Hughes’ Stoke City side going to the Etihad to grab all three points but no game on the day could match the enthralling encounter at Goodison Park with Diego Costa making his mark for his new club against the Toffees with two well taken goals.
Today begins with Aston Villa hosting Hull and this is followed with another Spurs versus Liverpool clash. Tottenham fans don’t have fond memories of this fixture because last season, Liverpool scored the goals that made the club dismiss their two managers but under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino, Arsenal’s fierce rivals has been on the ascendancy but I’m still certain that the Gunners would celebrate St. Totteringham’s Day at the end of the season. It’s as sure as death, taxes and England’s national team losing a game on penalties.
The football action will end with the Gunners taking a trip to King Power Stadium to play recently-promoted Leicester City. The team has acquainted themselves well to life in the big time as they fought hard to claw an equalizer from the jaws of defeat in their first league fixture against Everton but this was followed by a routine defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge despite Kesper Schmeichel’s goalkeeping heroics.
Leicester had the best home record in the Championship last season, winning 17 of their 23 fixtures and only losing twice, averaging two goals per game in their run to winning the SkyBet Championship. However, the Foxes have won just one of their last 14 Premier League home games (D9, L4) – a 3-1 victory against Portsmouth on 8 May 2004. The last time both sides met was in the 2003/04 season where the Gunners went through the entire campaign without losing a game. The Gunners were a goal down thanks to a Paul Dickov strike but two goals from Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira placed Arsenal in the history books for years to come.
It’s also worth noting that Arsene Wenger has never lost a Premier League game against Leicester. However, he was in charge when the Gunners were ousted from the FA Cup fourth round in 2000 following a penalty shootout with the Foxes. The last time Leicester recorded a Premier League win against the Gunners was as far back as 1994 and in 15 games after that they have drawn five and lost 10 times to the Gunners.
This season, Leicester City would be looking to the vast experience of Argentine international, Esteban Cambiasso, that left Italian giants, Internazionale, after spending the best part of a decade with the club. At 34, he has seen a whole lot in his football career and he was an essential part of the class of 2010′ that won the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League. However, with his paperwork not sorted out on time, this game will be too soon for him.
To team news, I don’t see the Gunners making much changes from the side that narrowly sealed qualification into the Champions League with a nervy victory over Besiktas. With David Ospina still nursing his mysterious thigh injury, I expect Wojciech Szczesny to continue in goal. I really hope that the Colombian goalkeeper recovers in time to play Arsenal’s Capital One Cup third round encounter, or Emiliano Martinez would probably get the nod. The defense pretty much picks itself with Nacho Monreal deputizing in the injured Kieran Gibbs’ stead, Matt Debuchy on the right with the Mertesielny Axis of Awesome, according to Arseblogger, doing their thing in the heart of Arsenal’s defense.
The Gunners put up a rock-solid defensive display against Besiktas and their resolve was tested when Debuchy received his marching orders from a soft booking from the card-happy ref. Prior to his red card, Debuchy had a great game on Wednesday day and he’d be proud of his teammates that they held the fort when he was in the dressing room. Monreal is usually known for being tad erratic sometimes but credit has to be given when it is due. The Spaniard and his compatriot in front of him, Santi Cazorla, were awesome in their defensive output and he fed a lovely ball for the Ox that wasn’t finished off.
On the back of such a defensive display, I don’t expect the manager to chop things up at the back.
In midfield, Mathieu Flamini will continue to hold the fort in front of the back line and it was surprising to see him not pick a booking against Besiktas. With the fans still clamoring for that defensive midfield signing, they should bear in mind that the Flamster is what they have except Arsene Wenger swoops for a new DM between today and transfer deadline day. Jack Wilshere had a stormer in the box to box role against Besiktas and I see him retaining his place in the squad, despite the return of the Welsh Jesus, Aaron Ramsey, following his suspension.
This would essentially mean that Santi Cazorla would displace the Ox on the right flank with Mesut Ozil playing from the left, a position he’s obviously not comfortable in. In attack, the fans would be hoping for Alexis Sanchez to build on his first Arsenal goal and he would have to lead the line in Giroud’s absence until the Gunners sign a new forward.
Premier League Form
Leicester: D L (18th)
Arsenal: W D (5th)
Leicester: James (shin), Upson (foot)
Arsenal: Arteta (thigh), Gnabry (knee), Gibbs (hamstring), Sanogo (hamstring), Ospina (thigh), Walcott (knee), Giroud (lower leg)
This promises to be a good game of football and with teams like Chelsea and Swansea City, yes, Swansea City already notching up maximum points from their handful of games played, the Gunners wouldn’t want to be left behind.
Gooner Daily Prediction: Leicester 0 Arsenal 2
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