Saturday morning opens with a clash between 9th and 10th in the Premier League, but each side’s recent play indicates that either could be back in contention for the European spots soon. Arsenal and Leicester City have both picked up eight points from their last four league matches and both sides won in the League Cup midweek to advance to the quarterfinals.
Last season these two sides split the results, each winning at the other’s stadium. In October 2020 Jamie Vardy’s lone goal sealed the three points for Leicester City before Arsenal returned the favor in February. Youri Tielemans scored in the 6th minute only to see the Gunners net three in a row from David Luiz, Alex Lacazette, and Pepe. The Gunners also defeated the Foxes in the League Cup last season in the King Power Stadium but had lost the three prior visits by a collective 8-1 scoreline.
It’s a stadium and opponent that have produced mixed results for Arsenal in recent seasons and we are all aware of Vardy’s record facing the Gunners. However, with Mikel Arteta’s side continuing to show improvements from the start of the season, Saturday’s match will be a tough, but winnable fixture. And if you missed it make sure to check out our Q&A with SB Nation’s site covering Leicester City, the Fosse Posse.
- Bernd Leno
- Kieran Tierney
- Ben White
- Calum Chambers
- Mohamed Elneny
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Martin Odegaard
- Left Out: Arthur Okonkwo, Sead Kolasinac, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Eddie Nketiah, & Folarin Balogun.
- Out: Granit Xhaka (knee).
- After what was one of Arsenal’s best performances of the season why change what worked? Also considering that the match will be at Leicester and against a side who has had a more potent attack than the Gunners so far this season, two rows of four seems like the sensible way to at least start the match for Mikel Arteta.
- There are injury and illness concerns for Kieran Tierney and Ben White, with the club making it sound like both are doubtful to start Saturday, but could be options on the bench. Perhaps if the match were on Sunday or Monday they could have worked back into the starting lineup in time. However, with a bug going around the club there could be last-minute changes to the XI tomorrow.
- Tavares had a solid performance against Aston Villa, once again validating his addition as Tierney’s backup. With Sead Kolasinac getting the start in the League Cup, giving Tavares a rest, he should be the left-back on Saturday, especially given Tierney isn’t 100%. When you have the options, and an option that has proven they are up for the challenge in the Premier League, there is little reason to risk your first-choice left-back.
- On the flip side of the backline, while Tomiyasu is locked in as the right-back starter, you could argue on who the backup should be this weekend. Cedric started midweek and had a decent match, but I’ve opted for Calum Chambers who will be fresher and offers coverage across more positions to allow Arteta to adjust the formation as the match dictates.
- In the middle will Mikel Arteta opt to give the same line another go — this time in a more difficult test? Or will he opt for a more conservative choice in Mohammed Elneny in place of Sambi? And it seems extremely doubtful based on his track record, but Arteta could always decide for the more aggressive approach and bring in Martin Odegaard for Sambi. That would leave Thomas Partey often isolated and seems like a recipe for defensive disaster against the Leicester attack.
- Barring a late injury or illness, I’d like the see Lacazette and Aubameyang start once again as the front of a 4-4-2. Not Aubameyang out wide or Lacazette as a make-shift #10. There have been many periods during their time together at the club where it simply didn’t work out to start them both. But given what we saw against Aston Villa, it’s worth another shot on Saturday. While this may not be Arsenal’s most attacking formation, leaving out Odegaard and Pepe, it does seem like the smart approach to take points from this trip to Leicester.
How to watch
Saturday (10/30) at 7:30 am ET / 4:30 pm PT on NBCSN.
Arsenal - 2
Leicester City - 2