Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Arsenal v Leicester City Preview

There has been very little time to ponder Saturday's defeat to Spurs for Arsenal with a midweek set of Premier League fixtures starting tonight. Arsenal have the opportunity to get their fight for a top four finish back on track with a home game against the league's bottom club Leicester City. Saturday might well have been an opportunity lost, but tonight's game is an opportunity that has to be grabbed with both hands.

Arsenal have won their last five home league games since United won 2-1 at the Emirates a few months ago and they have been increasingly impressive in each of those games. They are now the highest scorers at home in the league and they have to continue that home form against Leicester tonight. With so many teams fighting for a top four finish every win and every point are very important.

Leicester are rooted to the foot of the table and have been there for the last few months. They look to be playing fairly well to me and don't roll over for anybody, but their inability to score goals is what is keeping them where they are. They have some very tough games coming up and Arsenal are the first of those opponents. They are by no means adrift from the teams they're chasing, but they will be soon if they don't put a good run together.

Arsenal cannot afford to let them start that run tonight and they have to take the game to Leicester from the first minute to the last. If Arsenal get their passing game going and bring their best players into the game often enough they will get plenty of chances and then it's a matter of taking those chances. They cannot afford to suffer a hangover from Saturday's game and set about their task with anything other than full determination and commitment.

In team news Alexis Sanchez will return to the squad after recovering from his injury and I would be very surprised if he didn't play from the start. His enthusiasm and energy are a thing of beauty and he will revel in a game where Arsenal dominate possession. He's the team's top scorer this season and it makes perfect sense for him to play from the start and maybe come off later on if the game is safe and his work is done.

Otherwise I don't expect too many changes from the team which lost on Saturday, but I do think Theo Walcott will come in again for Danny Welbeck. It was Welbeck's first game back after his injury and it would make sense for him to sit this one out at the start so soon after coming back. He did very well in the move for Arsenal's goal on Saturday, but I thought he was too prone to drifting into a central position and leave Danny Rose to move forward unchallenged for Spurs. 

If both Alexis and Walcott play then the big question will be who gets the playmakers role behind the striker and for me it has to be Mesut Ozil. He was signed at huge expense to play there and he has to be given the chance to show what he can do in that position. Since Alexis signed I have been dying to see an Arsenal team with him, Ozil and Walcott in it together and we have the chance to see just that tonight. The attacking possibilities are mouth watering with the three of them playing together and I really hope it's something we get to see from the start.

Arsenal can't afford too many more slip ups and their season is about to get an awful lot busier with both the Champions League and the FA Cup still to compete in. If they're going to secure a top four spot yet again then they quite simply have to win at home to the team propping up the rest of the table. I'm looking forward to them doing just that and putting the memory of Saturday where it belongs - in the past.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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