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Matchday Preview: Leicester vs Arsenal

English Premier League

20th August 2016, 17:30 pm BST

King Power Stadium, Leicester

We take a trip to the defending Premier League champions on Saturday with both sides looking to pick up their first points of the season.

The 2016-17 season has got off to a disappointing start – defeat at home to Liverpool, a number of injuries, players not back from Euro 2016 and a lack of signings from Arsene Wenger.

A massive blow already for our Premier League title chances and one immediately has to think we could be aiming to win the FA Cup once more this season.  I’m already thinking about betting on the English FA Cup at William Hill – UK’s top bookmaker whilst the odds are high and the chances are realistically better than winning the league.

Following Gabriel Paulista’s injury in our final pre-season game, adding to the already-injured Per Mertesacker, it was expected the boss would bring in another experienced centre-back before the season opener.  Instead, Wenger went with Calum Chambers and Rob Holding which ended up with Liverpool scoring four goals.

Even still we are yet to announce a deal for a new centre-back but could welcome back Laurent Koscielny this weekend – an absolute must if we’re to hold out the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Ahmed Musa.

Mesut Ozil is also due back and would be a straight swap for Aaron Ramsey who played the number 10 role last weekend before picking up an injury that is going to rule him out for a month.

We’re also hoping to welcome back Olivier Giroud up front.  Alexis Sanchez failed to test Simon Mignolet once when he was forced into that role last Sunday but the French striker would allow Sanchez to move back into his left wing role.  Alex Iwobi started there last weekend and he is too sidelined for a month now.

The defending champions themselves were beaten 2-1 at newly-promoted Hull City despite a debatable penalty decision that went in their favour at the start of the second half.

Leicester looked like they sorely missed N’Golo Kante in the middle of the park, and although we scored seven goals in our two fixtures in picking up six points last season, this still comes as a massive boost for us.  It should allow the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka to find time on the ball and create chances from the middle of the park.

Team News

We’re hopeful Laurent Koscielny will make his return to partner either Rob Holding or Calum Chambers in the middle of our defence.  Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista are both for a while.  Wenger is running out of time to sign another centre-back in time for kick off.

Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi will both miss at least two games.  Mesut Ozil should replace the Welsh international whilst Alexis Sanchez can drop back into the left wing role if Olivier Giroud returns up front.

Leicester City have a fully fit squad to choose from.

Predicted Lineups

Arsenal:   Petr Cech; Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal; Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka; Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez; Olivier Giroud

Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel; Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs; Riyad Mahrez, Andy King, Danny Drinkwater, Demarai Gray; Ahmed Musa, Jamie Vardy

Key Stats

4 – Alexis Sanchez scored four goals in his two games versus the champions last season.

6 – Arsenal were the only team to take six points from Leicester City last season.

19 – Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 19 matches versus Leicester (W13, D6).

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