Arsenal take on Leicester City in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash. Arsenal are level on points with Tottenham Hotspurs but an inferior goal difference means that they are 3rd while their opponents Leicester City are sitting pretty at the top of the table with a comfortable 5 point lead. Arsenal brushed aside Leicester in the reverse fixture with an Alexis Sanchez hat-trick helping them inflict a crushing 5-2 defeat on the Foxes but the tables could turn this time around especially after Leicester’s 3-1 victory over Manchester City last week.
While Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said that his team are under no pressure manager Arsene Wenger has said that his opponents on Sunday have to cope with the pressure of being the title favourites. Mind Games, eh? The match will take place at the beautiful Emirates Stadium and the kick-off is scheduled for 12 noon (5:30 IST).
Arsenal: Wenger has no new injury concerns since the victory against Bournemouth though Francis Coquelin may now be in line to return to the starting line-up after coming on off the bench in Sunday’s win. Danny Welbeck is close to a return having missed all season with a knee injury but manager Arsene Wenger still expects Jack Wilshere (leg) and Santi Cazorla (knee) to be out for another three to four weeks.
Leicester City: Leicester are likely to be unchanged from their last match, little surprise as it was a commanding 3-1 victory over title rivals Manchester City. Jeff Schlupp remains sidelined with a hamstring injury which has kept the winger out since the start of December while Matty James is close to a recovery from a long-term knee injury but the Foxes are expected to be unchanged following their 3-1 win at Manchester City last week.
Arsenal XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Flamini; Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud
Leicester XI: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
Mesut Ozil vs Riyad Mahrez: Both these players have bamboozled defences with their skills and trickery and the fate of both the teams depend on the performances of these 2. Both scored in their respective games last week and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this one.
Jamie Vardy vs Laurent Koscielny: The Leicester City forward scored 2 goals the last time these two teams met and Arsenal are wary of the threat the top scorer in the Premier League possesses. Laurent Koscielny has to use his pace and tackling abilities to ensure Vardy doesn’t get too much time on the ball.
Betting Odds: Arsenal are odds-on favourites to claim all three points at the Emirates, priced at 3/4 to Leicester’s 15/4. The draw is at 31/10.
Alexis Sanchez has scored four goals in his three Premier League games against Leicester City.
Theo Walcott has scored in both of his Premier League appearances against Leicester City.
The Gunners have won 12 and lost none of the last 18 Premier League matches against the Foxes.
Arsenal have won their last eight home Premier League meetings with Leicester City.
Three of the four players to have had a hand in 20-plus goals in the Premier League this season will play in this match – Riyad Mahrez (24), Jamie Vardy (21) and Mesut Ozil (20).
On the last 11 occasions that Arsenal have faced a team that was top of the Premier League, they have won just once (D4 L6) and scored only four goals (conceding 18).
Prediction: The match takes place on Valentine’s Day and every neutral football fan would like Leicester’s love story to continue but Arsenal have other ideas. Arsenal have lost only twice at home while Leicester have been defeated away from home on only 1 occasion this season. Wenger and Arsenal know the importance of this game and their focus will definitely be on not losing this one. Leicester will happily take a draw but Arsenal might not like it that much. I expect Arsenal to overpower Leicester in this one, but only just.
Predicted scoreline: Arsenal 2- Leicester 1