With all of the drama surrounding Unai Emery and Arsenal recently, you’d hardly be blamed for forgetting that the Gunners have a match to play this weekend - rather, we wouldn’t blame you for actively avoiding that reality. The cloud that hovers over the Emirates has only grown darker in recent days, as the Gunners spiral further and further into a fugue state, having forgotten how to play cohesive attacking soccer and win matches as result after result have eluded them.
Arsenal have not won a match in over two weeks and have only won once in their past five matches, when the Gunners snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Vitoria in the Europa League thanks to two late Nicolas Pepe free kicks. Even the most optimistic of fans are finding it hard to see the glass half full while Arsenal continue to underperform, and Emery is running out of platitudes and cliched talking points to explain away the Gunner’s poor run of form.
All of that being said, there’s still the matter of Saturday’s match, and there are few teams Arsenal would rather face than Leicester City right now. The third place Foxes have been a team reborn under Brendan Rodgers, having lost just twice this season while racking up the league’s second best goal differential of +16, but demolishing a ten man Southampton 9-0 will do that for you.
In many ways, the Foxes are the anti-Gunners at the moment, putting matches out of sight confidently while playing with eye-watering efficiency. Jamie Vardy has recaptured the goal-scoring form that led Leicester to their improbable Premier League title in 2016, and both the midfield and defense can make claims to be among the league’s best. To put it plainly, it is hard to find any weaknesses in this side. And Arsenal? Oh, boy. Take your pick.
The defense is in shambles. The midfield is inconsistent. The attackers are getting worse service than the last customer at a restaurant before closing time. And Bernd Leno? Well, at least he’s doing what he can.
With so many things going wrong, it is becoming harder and harder to justify Emery as manager, which makes Saturday’s match a bit of a make-or-break for the under fire coach and a point of awful internal conflict for many Arsenal fans. A win would close the gap between the 5th placed Gunners and both Leicester and Chelsea, but undoubtedly keeps Emery off the chopping block for the indeterminable future. A loss, however, especially a bad one, could mark the beginning of the end for Emery’s uninspiring reign.
Rooting against one’s favored team is a sin of the highest order in the sports fandom, but if it brings about much-needed change, does it make it any more acceptable? I guess there’s only one way to find out.
Here goes nothing.
WHAT: Arsenal at Leicester City
WHEN: Saturday, November 9th, 12:30pm EST/9:30am PST
WHERE: Kingpower Stadium, Leicester, England
HOW TO WATCH: NBC Sports. Stream here.
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