Prediction: Arsenal vs Leicester City
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Verdict: Leicester City not to lose
The opening fixture of the 2017/2018 Premier League campaign will see Community Shield winners Arsenal take on 2015/2016 champions Leicester City. Both sides will be hoping for a bright start to the new season, meaning we should witness an entertaining match at the Emirates.
An impressive run of 20 successive top 4 finishes in English Premier League came to an end last season as the Gunners ended the campaign in fifth place, thus missing out on this year’s Champions League. And with key men Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil having entered the final year of their respective contracts, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger doesn’t have a lot of time to persuade the duo to stay and try to get the team back where they belong. The Gunners have so far brought in only Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac, and even though they managed to pip Chelsea to the Community Shield trophy, Arsenal don’t seem to be good enough to challenge for the Premiership trophy this season. Arsene Wenger’s charges could face a tough task in their opening fixture against new-look Leicester City, especially given the fact that Alexis Sanchez is still struggling for fitness, as are few more first team footballers. Arsenal kicked off the previous campaign with a 4-3 home loss to Liverpool and we are not convinced they have what it takes to see off the Foxes this time out.
Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere and Shkodran Mustafi are unlikely to start as they lack match fitness, whereas Laurent Koscielny is banned.
Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Gabriel Paulista, Francis Coquelin and Per Mertesacker are all rated doubtful for the Leicester City clash.
These past few years have been an amazing rollercoaster ride for the King Power outfit, who went from relegation dogfight to winning the Premier League and back faster than anyone could imagine. It was Craig Shakespeare who ultimately saved the Foxes from the drop, so no wonder he was allowed to continue his job. The good news is that there have been no major departures so far this summer, although Riyad Mahrez is reportedly available for sale. Meanwhile, Leicester City did a good job signing Kelechi Iheanacho, Vicente Iborra and Harry Maguire, while Matty James returned to the club following a successful loan spell with Barnsley. The Foxes failed to impress in pre-season, suffering defeats to Wolves and Burton, while sharing spoils with MK Dons and defeating Luton Town, but the 2-1 triumph over very good Borussia M’gladbach side in the final warm-up game can give them confidence heading into the Arsenal game. It has to be noted though that Leicester City lost six successive away games against the Gunners.
Summer recruit Kelechi Iheanacho is unlikely to start after picking up a knock, while Riyad Mahrez will probably be left on the bench as he nears a summer exit.
Robert Huth and Danny Drinkwater miss out through injury, whereas Islam Slimani faces a fitness test ahead of the Arsenal game.
Key Factors to Consider
- Arsenal won six straight home games against Leicester City
- The Gunners recorded 2-1 wins in three of those fixtures
- Both teams scored in seven of their last nine meetings
- Arsenal won last six matches at home
- Leicester City won two of last ten away fixtures (D1 L7)
With so many important players either sidelined or struggling for match fitness, we have reason to believe Arsenal will not be able to defeat very good Leicester City side, who are eager to improve on last season’s performance.
Verdict: Leicester City not to lose