Defeat on the opening day was sobering for Leicester after last year, but they remain confident in their ability. Against Arsenal they should be able to use their counter attacking style more effectively, which makes them more threatening going forward. An open game would be ideal and even though they’re at home, they’ll consider themselves underdogs. A draw is fine, but they’ll play to win. Leicester are at full strength ahead of the game, with Claudio Ranieri having the luxury of nobody on the treatment table, whilst Huth is available again after serving a ban, which is a major positive. Mendy missed the previous game too, attending the birth of his child, but he’s now back and available for selection, handing Ranieri a lot of options to choose from. It’s not likely he makes major changes to the team from the opening day defeat at Hull though. The back four will be changed a little, with Huth set to replace Luis Hernandez in a really positive move. He was missed against Hull and having him rekindle his partnership with Morgan will leave the team much stronger. Simpson continues to be the weakest link in defence but won’t be changed, whilst Fuchs is first choice on the left. In midfield there could be a little rotation too, though perhaps not centrally. King and Drinkwater are expected to continue their partnership, with Mendy still not quite up to full fitness, especially after missing last week. Amartey was lively when coming on and gives additional mobility, but he is more likely to be seen from the bench again. They have options, but none that will strengthen in the short term. Out wide Mahrez is a guaranteed starter, whilst Gray could drop down to the bench for Albrighton, who didn’t make it off the bench last time out. Ranieri complained of a lack of width against Hull, which is something Albrighton will certainly provide. Up front the duo of Musa and Vardy isn’t likely to be disrupted, with Ranieri admitting the pair need time to gel together and that initial signs were promising. Should he choose to take Musa out, Okazaki and Ulloa are more than adequate replacements, each bringing something different to the team. Scoring first plays into their counter attacking style even more, with Arsenal being forced to take some risks coming forward. If they can isolate the Arsenal centre backs they’ll have success in attack, with the pace of Vardy and Musa a very potent threat.
They’ll fancy their chances of coming away with a win from Leicester, but their defensive issues are a concern. Koscielny’s return is timely and helps, but if they are too open they could be heavily exposed. They have plenty of firepower in attack and will believe they can win, dominating possession and territory, with a draw their minimal aim after dropping points at home on opening day. Arsenal could welcome back three important players for their trip to Leicester, with Giroud, Koscielny and Ozil all closing in on a return to fitness, having been left out last week. Wilshere has an outside chance of being involved, but is a major doubt after injury, whilst seven players have already been ruled out, Ramsey, Gabriel Paulista and Mertesacker the most notable. If Arsene Wenger can get his three important players back in time for the game they’ll be much stronger down the spine of the team, which could prompt changes in the line up from their 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of the season. At the back, as Koscielny returns it’s a major boost and he’ll almost certainly start alongside Holding at the heart of the defence, even if Chambers scored last time out. They will be prepared if Koscielny is absent, but Wenger may take a risk after seeing his side ship four goals last weekend. Nacho Monreal and Bellerin are guaranteed starters in the full back slots, with rotation to them leaving the team much weaker. Xhaka didn’t impress too much when coming off the bench against Liverpool and may have to wait another week for his full debut, with Mohamed El Neny and Coquelin favourites to start again. It’s not a weakening, with the depth of options in the deeper midfield area being very strong for Wenger. Ozil could come back into the lineup to replace Ramsey, who misses out with injury, but they could comfortably bring in Santi Cazorla, who was influential when coming off the bench, weighing in with two assists. There is a possibility that both start, with Ozil playing slightly wider in place of Iwobi, who is also injured. Walcott and Sanchez should continue, though the impending return of Giroud is positive and increases competition for places, but he is still to get fully up to match speed after the summer break. The mood around Arsenal isn’t particularly great after an opening day defeat to Liverpool as well as limited investment to the playing squad. The team was under strength though, so confidence will still remain high, especially if they can travel to Leicester and win, which they believe they can do.
Verdict & Prediction
Arsenal will be eager to bounce back from their loss last time out and will want at least a draw, but they could find themselves losing ground on their title competitors early. It’s still very early in the season though, so motivation will not be an issue for any of the players.
Prediction: Arsenal +0.00 AH
Odds: 1.94 Pinnacle