Arsenal v Leicester City: Premier League Match Preview
Arsenal host Leicester City in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium tonight (7:45pm kick-off UK time).
The Gunners will be boosted by their FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
However, they still face an uphill battle to secure a top 4 Premier League finish.
Arsenal are in 7th place, 7 points behind 4th place Manchester City with one game in hand.
Manchester City host Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday night.
Both Arsenal and City were given a boost by 3rd place Liverpool losing 2-1 to Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday.
Arsenal are 9 points behind Liverpool with 3 games in hand.
The Gunners will be looking to build on their 2-1 win against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in in the their last Premier League outing.
Arsenal have lost three of their last six Premier League matches (W2, D1) and they haven’t won back-to-back league games since January.
The Gunners have 57 points after 33 games, which is only three fewer than last season, when they eventually finished second.
Reigning Premier League champions are currently in 15th place in the table -six points above 18th place Swansea with two games in hand.
They are just about safe from suffering the indignity of being relegated a season after their Premier League winning triumph.
Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare has steadied the Foxes ship since replacing the sacked Claudio Ranieri.
Leicester have won five of their last seven-league matches (D1, L1).
The Foxes have picked up four points in their three Premier League away games under Craig Shakespeare, more than they had managed in the previous 13 under Claudio Ranieri.
Leicester have scored at least two goals in every one of their seven Premier League matches under Shakespeare (17 goals in total). Their previous 17 Premier League goals came over a period of 20 matches
The Foxes are now free to secure their Premier League status following the ending of their Champions League adventure.
They were knocked out at the last 8 stage of the competition by Atletico Madrid last week.
Leicester haven’t won any of the last 20 league meetings against the Gunners and have won three of the last four meetings.
The teams drew 0-0 in the other, which was the reverse Premier League fixture at the King Power Stadium on Saturday 20th August.
Arsenal have won nine of the 10 times they have hosted Leicester in the Premier League. The only blip was the first of those meetings, a 1-1 draw at Highbury in 1995.
Alexis Sanchez has scored 19 Premier League goals this season. One more would make him the fifth Arsenal player to score 20+ goals in a Premier League campaign (after Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor.)
Sanchez has now been involved in more goals than any other Premier League player in all competitions this season (38, 24 goals and 14 assists).
Theo Walcott has found the net in three of his four Premier League appearances against Leicester, including in both home games.
Jamie Vardy has been involved in eight goals in his past seven Premier League appearances since Craig Shakespeare’s appointment (six goals, two assists).
Vardy, who turned down a summer transfer to Arsenal, has scored Leicester’s last three goals against the Gunners in the Premier League, scoring the opening goal twice. However, he is yet to end up on the winning side.
In the absence of skipper Wes Morgan the Foxes will look to Robert Huth to organise their defence. He is also a threat at the other end from set=pieces. Three of Huth’s last five Premier League goals for Leicester City have come away to London sides.
This is what Wenger had to say at his pre-match press conference yesterday about Arsenal’s chances of finishing in the top 4 and whether they have to win all seven remaining matches to achieve it.
“It looks like that,” he said. “That has to be the target. To achieve that, we have to win the next one. I think the next thing we have to achieve is to transfer the energy level we showed on Sunday to the Premier League. We started well at Middlesbrough, so let’s continue that against Leicester.
The semi-final win will give us a bit more confidence. I think it will convince everybody that with the right energy levels and the right fighting spirit, the right togetherness, we can beat everybody.
On morale [I’ve seen an improvement], for sure, and certainly the confidence as well. Big games give you confidence and convince you that you can win. That’s the most important thing in our job.
The top four is open – but what it demands from us is consistency in the results now until the end of the season. It’s still possible, but that means we’ll maybe have to have a perfect run-in.”
This is what Shakespeare had to say at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“Yesterday [in their game] I saw the Arsenal players were fighting to win and they thoroughly deserved their victory.
I’m not sure what they’ll do on Wednesday as they have good depth, but we have to focus on ourselves.
I’m not sure how many points survival will take. All teams are capable of winning games and putting points on the board.
We have to make sure we look after our own club. You are not sure what’s round the corner.
We aren’t safe. Even if we get there we’ve got to keep trying to win. Competitiveness is vital in football. We need it to the end.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature despite leaving Wembley after Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final on crutches.
Arsene Wenger confirmed there were no other injuries amongst those involved in Sunday, but his selection for tonight’s match will take into account fatigue after the players had to play for 120 minutes.
Skipper Wes Morgan is out with a hamstring injury.
Islam Slimani will also miss the match with a groin strain.
Papy Mendy has had an operation on his ankle and will be out for the rest of the season.
Referee: Mike Jones
Assistants: A Garratt, M Scholes
Fourth official: B Madley
Arsenal to secure a 2-1 victory.