With both falling to surprise opening day defeats to Hull City and Liverpool respectively, both teams need to get back on track in the league as soon as possible. Kicking off later on in comparison to the rest of the Premier League, Ranieri and Wenger alike will emphasise the importance of getting a result on Saturday evening in order to avoid falling further behind, albeit after two games.
So, it’s not so much a title-decider in the East-Midlands but considering the poor starts of both the Gunners and the Foxes and the considerable pressure building Arsene Wenger, it could be said that a victory could be crucial to either side’s season.
Having finished in the top-two of the Premier League last time out, most expected Leicester City and Arsenal to again produce positive showings this season (although possibly not with Ranieri’s men in the upper echelons of the table). However, both teams come into the match at the King Power Stadium having suffered shock losses last weekend.
The East-Midlanders travelled up to the KCOM Stadium to take on a manager-less Hull City outfit. Regardless of them being touted as overwhelming favourites pre-match, goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass saw the champions off, despite PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, netting a penalty early in the second period.
Elsewhere, Arsene Wenger’s troops also walked away empty-handed from their first league match. Hosting Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, an encapsulating match was played in North London. Going ahead thanks to a Theo Walcott strike (after the former Southampton man had missed a penalty), the Gunners were unable to hold out for the win as the Reds displayed some exhilarating football in the capital.
Going 4-1 up thanks to a brace from Philipe Coutinho and goals each Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane, supporters were left shocked and furious at what they were watching. Despite Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Calum Chambers pulling goals back for the Londoners, Liverpool were able to stylishly claim the win, allowing a chorus of boos to ring down from the terraces at the Emirates.
Therefore, it goes without saying that each team will be more than keen to right some of the wrongs from their last outing.
Are Arsenal easily gunner walk away with the win?
If history between these two sides is anything to go by, an Arsenal win should be in the offing. Having clashed 135 times in all competitions, it’s not an extremely level playing field. The North-Londoners have taken the victory on 63 separate occasions – way ahead of the Foxes, who are stuck on 29 (43 draws).
As a matter of fact, the Midlanders have not managed to get the better of this weekend’s counterparts since 2000; overcoming them in an FA Cup Fourth Round replay at Filbert Street via a penalty shoot-out. However, from Ranieri’s point of view, the various league clashes between the two sides makes for even worse reading. In over 30 years, Leicester have only claimed the three points once and even that was way back in 1994 when Ian Ormondroyd and David Lowe both netted for the home side.
The most recent clash between the two in the East Midlands does not give much reason to be optimistic either, from the perspective of Foxes’ fans. In this particular fixture last season, an Alexis Sanchez-inspired Arsenal outclassed their hosts. Dominating possession throughout the game, Wenger’s men found the net five times with the Chilean winger bagging himself a hat-trick.
Despite the home side’s poor recent record against their capital-based opponents, the team and fans’ expectations of the game should go up with the return of defender, Robert Huth. Having completed his three-match suspension for a charge of violent conduct picked up at the end of last season, the former Stoke City man is free to face the Gunners.
In fact, Claudio Ranieri has a completely injury-free squad to choose from. Although, some changes to the first XI could be expected following the champions’ lacklustre loss to Hull. After his wife gave birth last weekend, Nampalys Mendy could be called into the team for his Premier League debut hopefully to rectify some of the problems in midfield the Foxes’ displayed last Saturday.
Also, Marc Albrighton could possibly make a return to the team after being replaced by youngster, Demarai Gray for the trip to the KCOM Stadium.
On the other hand, Arsene Wenger has plenty of injury worries to contend with. Already missing the likes of Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista and Danny Welbeck, fans were concerned to see Aaron Ramsey succumb to a hamstring problem in the match against Liverpool that is to keep him out for a few weeks.
Furthermore, young winger, Alex Iwobi will be required to sit out the trip to Leicester as he also suffered a slight knock against the Reds last weekend.
Nonetheless, there was some more positive news for the Gunners as the likes of Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud are close to returning to full fitness after their exploits at Euro 2016 and they could make appearances against the Premier League champions.
Leicester City – Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Mendy, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Musa, Vardy.
Arsenal – Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Chambers, Monreal; Cazorla, Xhaka, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sanchez, Giroud.