Saturday, 20 August 2016

Arsenal's Trip To Leicester Previewed

A week has passed since I wrote my preview on Arsenal's first league game of the season against Liverpool last week. A week is a long time in the life of an Arsenal fan and an awful lot can change in a week, but obviously not for Arsenal. Well maybe I am a little wrong there because two players who played last week will be unavailable through injury, but that's hardly something new for Arsenal.

The much needed central defender is still a thing of our dreams and our striking options are as limited as they were last week. It seems like as a club we have decided to try to muddle through August as best we can and then concentrate on the season after the transfer window has closed. At this stage I'm not sure we will sign anyone despite having more actual cash available than almost any other club in the world. Arsene Wenger just doesn't seem to understand the frustration of the fans because we are so near and spending some of that money could be what we need to make us genuine contenders.

Of course nothing is guaranteed in football and we could still finish fourth if we spent the money, but we won't know if we don't do it. The sentiments against the manager are growing week by week and he is the only one who can do anything to stop them. There are some fans who want him out no matter what, but the more moderate ones like me can still be won over.

I have noticed a decided increase in anti Wenger sentiment since the season started and quite a of those who are in favour of his exit were previously on the fence. From my perspective the first time I ever thought he should consider his position was after the 8-2 loss against United five years ago, but he held firm and I will always support our manager whoever it might be. His contract is up at the end of this season though and I genuinely believe the club needs to be looking at very real alternatives, but I don't believe for one second that they are.

Anyway, on to Leicester and the team we might see playing away from home to last season's champions. Like Arsenal they lost their opening game and the manner of their defeat would hardly inspire confidence for the new season for them either. A defeat away to a newly promoted team with a temporary manager and only 13 senior players fit is hardly the stuff of champions.

The Arsenal team that shipped four goals at home to Liverpool will probably be very close to the one we see against Leicester. Of course both Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey will miss out because of the injuries they picked up last week. The chances of Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud returning are slim as they all continue to build their fitness after their late returns to pre season. 

If any of them are to play the chances are Koscielny will come in, but he hasn't got even one competitive minute under his belt yet and it would be a risk to play him from the start. Needs must though and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in from the start with the other two possibly coming off the bench with a view to starting against Watford next week. The threat posed to our defence by Jamie Vardy's pace is a very real one and Koscielny is far more likely to be able to deal with it than Calum Chambers or Rob Holding even if he isn't fully match fit.

I think we will see Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain come in for Ramsey and Iwobi as they both did well when they came off the bench against Liverpool. That would mean Alexis Sanchez would start as the central striker again and I can't say I'm overly happy with that. I just don't see him as a central striker and I think he's a lot better in a wide role.

If he doesn't play as a striker he has to play in a wide role which would mean either Theo Walcott or Chuba Akpom would play in the centre. For me it has to be Akpom despite his lack of experience at this level because he is the only actual striker we have available. I would be shocked to see Akpom play though and I expect as few changes as possible from last week despite the concession of four goals at home.

Maybe we will see the full debut of Granit Xhaka after he started on the bench last week despite the club shelling out something like £35 million for him. It's a lot of money to pay for a sub and you have to think he will get his chance to start very soon. For me the team would be more balanced with him in midfield alongside Mohamed Elneny which would see Francis Coquelin missing out.

Leicester are no pushovers and they will want to do all they can to defend the title they won so well last season. They have done well to tie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez down to new contracts and they have added to their squad in the summer too. Arsenal inflicted two of their three league defeats on them last season and I have no doubt Leicester will want to take the chance to put that right.

The loss to Liverpool has made the outcome of this game all the more important for Arsenal and three points are almost a must. They can't afford to get too far behind the other teams looking to win the league and they need to get their campaign up and running as soon as possible. It's certainly not too much to imagine the team can win the game, but they have to control the game an awful lot more than they managed to do last week.

I can only imagine the reaction if Arsenal lose again and it's something I would really prefer not to deal with. It's up to the players to make sure that doesn't happen by winning the game or at the very least getting a point from it. 

Finally for today there's still time to join my Fantasy League and my Predictions League for the new season. There's a €50 prize for the fantasy league and it's open to anyone to join.

To join my fantasy league go to the official site and set up your team after entering your details. Once you've set up your team go to the league's option and join a private league. The code for my league (Ever Arsenal league) is 64693-22498 and there's already well over 1,000 teams in it.

For my predictions league go to the official site and make your forecasts and then go to the mini leagues option. Go to the join a mini league option (invitation code) and use the code for my league FD6F8-HYH to sign up. After that you can join in the fun of predicting every single game in the upcoming season.

That's it for this today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Why spoil a blog about football,by including fantasy stuff?

    1. Because there's a huge interest in fantasy football and I love playing it myself.