Leicester City will host Arsenal at the King Power Stadium on Sunday in a critical mid-table battle for both clubs. Once champions, both Arsenal and Leicester have been rotting in the middle of the table for the past few years. After suffering a disastrous start to the present season, Mikel Arteta’s have recovered well to go undefeated for five fixtures in a row, while Leicester City enter the fixture on the back of four successive victories across all competitions. No points separate the two clubs in the table, and evenly matched squads are sure to ensure a competitive encounter.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s Premier League fixture between Leicester City and Arsenal:
The Foxes ended last season on a high note as they won the FA Cup by defeating Chelsea, and they started this season by defeating Manchester City in the FA Community Shield. But Brendan Rodgers’ men had a horrible start to the season as they lost four consecutive fixtures, including easy matches against Norwich City and Brighton. Questions were raised about the tactics used in the field, and it looks like Brendan Rodgers took the feedback into consideration as Leicester stopped sliding down the table. A 4-2 win against Manchester United gave them a much-needed confidence boost in the league, while a 4-3 comeback win against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League further confirmed their ascent.
The Foxes have advanced to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup by registering a 4-2 victory on penalties in the match against Brighton on Wednesday. Brendan Rodgers has been consistent in the starting lineup for the last few matches, with Harvey Barnes and Ademola Lookman missing out on game time for most of the month. But both players showed their mettle by scoring in the fixture against Brighton. Patson Daka has been the best performer for Leicester so far, featuring regularly in the starting XI as Brendan Rodgers prepares him to be the club’s long-term alternative to Jamie Vardy.
Plenty of injury headaches make squad rotation difficult for Rodgers – Marc Albrighton could miss the fixture due to an injury, while Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi, two of the long-term linchpins of their main squad, are set to miss out once more.
Arsenal had a nightmarish start to the season, losing five straight games at the start of the season, including humiliating losses to Chelsea and Manchester City. The losses have brought Arsenal’s ‘big six’ tag into doubt, while Mikel Arteta’s future at Arsenal looked uncomfortable, to say the least. But the Gunners have rallied since then, and have gone undefeated for eight games in a row. A comfortable 3-1 victory over Aston Villa last week and a 2-0 victory over Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United will take the team to King Power Stadium with confidence.
Bernd Leno has replaced Aaron Ramsdale for the last two games and has succeeded in the task by keeping two clean sheets – but the veteran goalkeeper is set to make a comeback against the Foxes. Kieran Tierney has a bruised ankle and his availability for the fixture is doubtful. Gabriel Magalhaes and Takehiro Tomiyasu will come back into the side at the back. Martin Odegaard has recovered from an injury and is expected to start in the middle, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were both rested in the game against Leeds and will be starting on Sunday. Arteta is expected to persist with his 4-2-3-1 formation that has given dividends in recent matches.
HEAD TO HEAD
There is a long rivalry between both clubs, with the first fixture between them coming all the way back in 1895. Since then, the Foxes and Gunners have clashed in 133 games so far, with the Gunners holding the upper hand with 68 wins. In the Premier League, Arsenal once again hold the lead with 17 wins in 30 league games, with the Foxes managing to win just five times.
The last five matches between both sides have been pretty competitive – with two wins to each side and a draw. The last time Arsenal visited the King Power Stadium, they thrashed the hosts 3-1, with David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe all scoring goals to give the Gunners a comeback victory. It was also Arsenal’s biggest victory at the King Power Stadium since 2015 when they thrashed Leicester 5-2.
WHAT TO EXPECT
On paper, Arsenal are the stronger team. They have regained superb form after a poor start, and the momentum they carry is likely to be once again on display at Leicester. The absence of Jamie Vardy and Ndidi will hurt Leicester on Sunday, and the team struggled to get ahead of a relatively weaker Brighton defensive unit. Mikel Arteta’s resilience seems to be finally paying dividends for the club on the ground, and a win against Leicester will further solidify their ascent.
Crucial fixtures against Manchester United and Liverpool await the Gunners, and a win against Leicester will push Arsenal above their mid-table rivals and keep them in contention for a potential Champions League spot. We expect Arsenal to come out of the game with a victory.
Leicester City Predicted XI: Kasper Schmeichel; Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Daniel Amartey; Youri Tielemans, Boubakary Soumare, Timothy Castagne, Ricardo Pereira; James Maddison; Patson Daka, Kelechi Iheanacho
Arsenal Predicted XI: Aaron Ramsdale; Nuno Tavares, Ben White, Gabriel, Takehiro Tomiyasu; Albert Lokonga, Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka; Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
When: Saturday, 30th October, 5:00 PM IST
Where: King Power Stadium, Leicester
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures will be featured on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be telecasted live on Star Sports and Star Sports Select Channels.