Don’t look now, but Arsenal are within a shout of making a run at the top four. With 14 points from their first 9 matches, Arsenal have made up considerable ground after their well-publicized poor start, and if the Gunners’ recent performances against Aston Villa and Leeds are any indicators, they hit the road in arguably their best form all season. Statistically, Arsenal are sneakily solid, particularly in the defense, with Arteta’s new-look back four and current #1 Aaron Ramsdale shutting down shop with regularity.
Arsenal and Liverpool top the Premier League with most clean sheets in their last 20 competitive matches (10)— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) October 29, 2021
Manchester United are at the bottom of the list with only 1 clean sheet in their last 20 competitive matches pic.twitter.com/RRnXslLd09
Standing in their path, however is a Leicester team that is also rounding into fine form. Much like Arsenal, they are in the middle of an unbeaten run - 5 matches to Arsenal’s 8 across all competitions. Also like Arsenal, they sit among the four-team logjam of clubs sitting on 14 points, alongside a reeling Manchester United and an Everton fresh off a battering by Claudio Ranieri’s Watford. While others have been fading, Brendan Rogers’ Foxes have been firing on all cylinders, as evidenced by the 4-2 thrashing of Manchester United two weeks ago.
Winning at Leicester won’t come easy. Compounding the task at hand for the Gunners is the fact that the talismanic Jamie Vardy is back to doing what he does best - scoring goals by the boatload. His 7 goals on the season are second only to Liverpool’s red-hot Mohammed Salah (10). Vardy has proven to be a bit of boogieman for the Gunners, and his regular goal-scoring success against Arsenal cannot be overlooked.
Jamie Vardy has scored more Premier League goals versus Arsenal than against any other opponent in Premier League history - 11.— Orbinho (@Orbinho) October 29, 2021
Those goals have come in just 13 appearances
Despite being taken off at halftime against Brentford with a slight knee injury, Rogers insists that Vardy is healthy. With Vardy, Youri Tielemans, and James Maddison in fine fettle, Arsenal’s defense is going to have it’s toughest test since the Manchester City match.
Arsenal, on the inverse, have struggled to find the net with regularity. The Gunners’ 10 goals scored on the season is exceedingly un-Arsenal, but the potential cure for the offensive woes has seemingly come in the form of previously-shelved Alexandre Lacazette, whose industrious pressing and harried hold-up play were key to the Gunners’ 3-1 convincing victory over Aston Villa last weekend. Despite not being fully match fit, Laca has given Arteta considerable food for thought for his line-up going forward.
Arsenal have found themselves in this position too many times to count in recent seasons. Teams in front of them have done Arsenal the favor of the kind of wild unpredictability that has defined the season so far. Outside of Liverpool and Chelsea, there isn’t a single team that looks consistently heads and shoulders better than the rest of the Premier League. This match is far from a must-win, but a victory will put Arsenal into a great position as they enter a tough stretch of fixtures in November. Arteta has been preaching patience and faith in the process, but the seeds he has planted need to continue bearing fruit.
WHO: Arsenal vs Leicester,
WHERE: King Power Stadium, Leicester
WHEN: Saturday, October 30th, 7:30am EST/4:30am PST/12:30pm GMT
HOW TO WATCH: Live on NBCSN. Streaming on FuboTV ($$$) and NBCSports.com (TV provider login).