Saturday, 26 September 2015

Arsenal's Trip To Leicester City Previewed

It hasn't been the greatest start to the season for Arsenal, but they're still only five points behind the league leaders City who are at least looking a lot more beatable after losing at home to West Ham last week. Two defeats in six league games is far from ideal for Arsenal though even if there was little they could do about last week's defeat at Chelsea thanks to Mike Dean. If they're going to challenge for the title they have to find a lot more consistency and put in performances worthy of potential champions.

So far those performances haven't been there and they have failed to take any team apart. They were by far the better team at home to Stoke, but still needed a lateish goal to finish up 2-0 winners after a couple of scares. They haven't found their goalscoring touch yet and it's hard to finish teams off when you miss chance after chance.

Today's opponents Leicester have had a great start to their season and continued on where they finished last season. They are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League with three wins and three draws so far and they have scored in every game they have played. They have also conceded in every game they have played and that gives Arsenal some food for thought today.

Leicester have made themselves the comeback kings of the league and their never say die attitude has to be admired. In Riyad Mahrez they have the in form player in the league and he will have to be closely watched by Arsenal today to try to contain him. Arsenal won 2-1 at home to them towards the end of last season, but Leicester were very good that night and deserved something from the game. Despite the departure Nigel Pearson of they have continued in the same vein and Claudio Ranieri has them playing good attractive football.

In team news the only Arsenal player who won't be available from the midweek squad which won away to Spurs in the Capital One Cup is Gabriel Paulista. He admitted to the FA charge of improper conduct and received a one match ban for his troubles. The fact that his conduct was a reaction to an improper red card which was later rescinded makes no difference and he misses out today.

There's not much more that can be said about last Saturday, but the latest utterings from Mourinho are those of a man losing the plot. Of course he's trying to deflect from his team and their shortcomings so far and the pressure it has put on his job. It strikes me that he's now the voyeur he accused Arsene Wenger of being quite a few years ago. Also if he actually needs an explanation of Diego Costa's retrospective red card then he really is losing the plot. He should try looking at the footage of the game and see if he finds Costa's behaviour acceptable and within the rules of the game and if he does the men in the white coats will be on their way to Stamford Bridge very soon.

Anyway I digress and it's back to today's game and what the team news means to Arsenal. Francis Coquelin won't be back from the injury he picked up in that game and it looks like he'll miss out on the Olimpiacos match on Tuesday night too, but he could be available against United next weekend. He's a big miss of course, but at least Santi Cazorla will be back from his one game suspension after his red card against Chelsea.

I would be very surprised to see anything other than a full strength Arsenal team despite the big game coming up on Tuesday night as a win today is essential. That should mean Aaron Ramsey could be the only player to keep his place from that win over Spurs although somebody has to play the Coquelin role. I can't see both Ramsey and Cazorla playing in the middle as somebody has to do the donkey work which Coquelin excels at.

Mathieu Flamini has surely moved up in the pecking order after his display against Spurs where he did the hard work very well as well as scoring the two goals on the night. The chances are Mikel Arteta will be chosen ahead of him, but I have serious doubts about Arteta and he has looked far from his best in the two games he has played so far. I would prefer to see Flamini get the nod and get the reward that display against Spurs deserves.

Otherwise I think the team will be the same as it was against Chelsea and it's about time a few of the players stepped up. Alexis Sanchez made the difference when he came on against Spurs and maybe he has at last shaken off his late return to the squad and lack of pre season. He needs a goal to get going and just maybe that first goal will arrive today.

Leicester's defensive record offers Arsenal plenty of hope today and I think there are goals there for them to score. They have to concentrate for every single minute of the game though as Leicester have stormed back after trailing far too often this season. Leicester haven't played a team as good as Arsenal can be yet and an Arsenal team playing at it's best are more than capable of taking all three points.

The thing is we haven't seen Arsenal anywhere near their best yet and they are eight games into the season. They need to click as a team and impose their attacking style on their opponents as well as taking advantage when they are dominating possession and chances. If they can eventually find their shooting boots this team is far from out of the title race and they need to perform like a team who can win the league. They will get good chances today and I think they can and will win if only they can put them away

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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