After getting the season off to the perfect start last weekend at Crystal Palace, we return to Emirates Stadium on Saturday hoping to maintain the feelgood factor against Leicester City.
Brendan Rodgers’ side head to north London licking their wounds after seeing a two-goal lead slip at home to Brentford on the opening weekend to draw 2-2, continuing a trend that has seen them drop 23 points from winning positions since the start of last season.
Also concerning for Foxes fans are that their trips to N5 historically haven’t been fruitful, but the only victory from their previous 25 visits was back in October 2020.
A summer of status quo
After an injury-plagued season saw Leicester finish eighth in the table last term - deemed a disappointment following their flirtation with the Champions League places and an FA Cup win the previous term - any hopes Rodgers had of squad strengthening have been hampered by financial constraints.
Leicester are the only club in Europe’s top five major leagues yet to make a signing, and as well as seeing club legend Kasper Schmeichel depart for Nice last week the Foxes have been fending off bids for their top names including Wesley Fofana and James Maddison.
Rodgers will be hoping that he can keep the rest of his squad intact, as well as out of the treatment room to ensure his side can once again be involved in fighting the European places come May.
What the managers say
Arteta on Leicester: "They’ve had some good games - I watched the game against Sevilla and they’ve been together for a long time.
"It’s a really strong squad with a manager and coaching staff that have been doing a fantastic job and have huge experience in the league. It’s always difficult against them.
Rodgers on us: "Arsenal have gone to a new level with the three players who have come into the team.
"Saliba is a talented player, he’s gone away and got really good experience and you see him, he’s quick, he can dominate. He’s a fantastic addition and gives them presence at the back.
"Jesus is a world-class striker, you see his hunger and desire, it will elevate other players. Zinchenko can play in a couple of positions to the very highest level. They have given the squad the confidence and has given Mikel the tools to play how he really wants to play."
Takehiro Tomiyasu played 45 minutes of our U21s' 3-1 win against Manchester United as he continues to build his fitness, while Mikel Arteta has suggested that Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira could be in contention for selection. However, Reiss Nelson has suffered a muscular injury in training, with the length of his absence unconfirmed.
The bad news kept coming for the Foxes in their final pre-season game, with full-back Ricardo Pereira rupturing an Achillies which will see him out of action for six months, while Harvey Barnes injured a knee and will be out for a few weeks - the same ailment that is keeping Ryan Bertrand out of action.
From Michael Cox, writing in the matchday programme for this game: Last weekend, Rodgers’ side dominated possession with a 3-5-1-1 system, found Maddison between the lines, and created good chances. They faded dramatically in the second half, however, and Brentford eventually merited a point. It was perhaps significant that Rodgers, despite being able to introduce five substitutes this season, only used one change, hinting he’s not entirely happy with his squad depth.
Last weekend, Leicester depended on their wing-backs for width. Both Timothy Castagne and James Justin are right-footed, although both have often been used on the left. Justin plays that role manfully, and is impressive with his decision-making in the final third, but Leicester do lack a left-footer who can properly stretch the play.
In midfield, Leicester effectively used a diamond last weekend, with Wilfried Ndidi playing the holding role. He’s good at breaking up play, positive with his distribution and capable of dribbling forward. In Youri Tielemans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Leicester offer plenty of goalscoring threat from long range - and that’s without even considering Maddison, an expert at shooting from around 25 yards out, especially when in inside-left positions and from free-kicks.
Gabriel Martinelli has been involved in five goals in his last five Premier League starts (2 goals, 3 assists). He’s looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time.
Leicester have kept one clean sheet in their last 26 away Premier League matches, doing so in a 2-0 win at Burnley last March. They haven’t kept a clean sheet on the road against a current top-flight side since February 2021, a goalless draw at Wolves.
James Maddison has been involved in eight goals in his last five Premier League games (4 goals, 4 assists).
Gabriel Jesus has scored five goals in seven Premier League games against Leicester – only against Everton (8) and Watford (6) has he netted more in the competition.
Only Harry Kane (13) and Wayne Rooney (12) have scored more Premier League goals against us than Jamie Vardy (11), although the 35-year-old hasn’t scored in his last two games against us.
We have won their last three Premier League matches against Leicester, scoring seven goals and conceding just one.
The Foxes have lost more away top-flight matches against us than against any other side (35).
We have started a Premier League campaign with two wins on six occasions, but not started with two wins without conceding since 1971/72.
Darren England will be the man in the middle; only his third Gunners appointment since being promoted to the Premier League pool of officials in the summer of 2020.
As well as our 5-0 League Cup success against Nottingham Forest in 2019/20, he took charge of our 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United back in May.
- Referee: Darren England
- Assistant Referee 1: James Mainwaring
- Assistant Referee 2: Wade Smith
- Fourth Official: Robert Jones
- Video Assistant Referee: Mike Dean
- Additional Video Assistant Referee: Derek Eaton
Leicester’s recent visits to N5
Since Leicester were promoted to the Premier League in 2014/15, we have won six and drawn one of our eight matches at Emirates Stadium, including a 2-0 win back in March with Thomas Patey and Alexandre Lacazette getting on the scoresheet.
The Foxes’ only win on our patch since 1973 came the season before when Vardy grabbed the only goal of the game, who also netted late on in the 1-1 draw between the sides in the tail end of Project Restart in 2020.
The Breakdown Live
Tune in from 2pm on Saturday afternoon to see a whole-new Breakdown Live, which now features a live studio audience made up of Arsenal Rewards Members, and broadcast live from Emirates Stadium!
Invincible Jeremie Aliadiere is in the studio on the weekend the Premier League celebrates its 30th anniversary to reflect on the 2003/04 season, before hopping into the commentary box to join Dan Roebuck and provide exclusive UK coverage of the game.
Meanwhile, Chunkz will be joining Nick and Adrian to chat team news and preview the match - make sure you catch the best coverage of the game live on Arsenal.com and the official app!
Martin Odegaard has revealed that he is keen to quickly develop a better understanding with Gabriel Jesus, starting with this game against the Foxes.
The Norwegian was speaking in the machday programme, and you can find out what is included in a revamped version for our first home match of the campaign, plus hear from editor Andy Exley about the challenges of producing the publication.
The weather is due to be extremely hot come kick-off, but find out what Arteta is doing to prepare his team for the heat.
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