Arsenal travel to Leicester City today for a difficult away test that should help us understand where the Gunners are as club as the Premier League season shifts from early days past the quarter pole. Are they more the side that got smacked around in the opening three matches of the season? Or is the eight-match unbeaten streak an indicator of a a more permanent trend of improved play and results?
As it usually does, the answer (probably) lies somewhere in between those two.
The Gunners have fared decently well against Leicester, amassing a 6-4-2 record against the Foxes in the Premier League dating back to that magical 2015-16 title winning season. That record actually surprised me — I thought it would be worse. The last time the clubs met (February 2021, at the King Power), Arsenal overturned a 6th minute Youri Tielemans goal to win 3-1. And it was the first time in seemingly forever that Jamie Vardy did not manage to score against the Gunners. He’s still got an extremely impressive record against Arsenal — 11 goals in 13 league appearances.
The seemingly ageless Vardy (he’s 34 now, which is hard to believe) has started this season well. His 7 goals on the season rank second in the PL, only trailing Mohamed Salah. Vardy and the Foxes’ attack should prove a stiffer test for an Arsenal defense that, after falling flat on it’s face to start the season, seems to be rounding into form nicely.
The Arsenal backline will have to do without Kieran Tierney, whose ankle problem has seen him left in London. Ben White, who was forced off with illness against Leeds on Tuesday, made the trip, as did Martin Ødegaard, who has been dealing with a slight knock. Granit Xhaka is out long-term.
Brendan Rodgers will be without James Justin, Marc Albrighton, Wesley Fofana, and Wilfred Ndidi today. Ayoze Perez and Ricardo Pereira are doubtful. Jame Vardy came off after 45 minutes at the midweek with knee soreness, but the Foxes’ manager insists the striker is ready to go.
The middle of the table is a congested mess, and both Arsenal and Leicester are in the thick of it. Pretty soon, that morass will start to sort itself out and true contenders for the European places will emerge from amongst the pretenders. The Gunners have rebounded well from a poor start to the season. A quality away result would go a long way towards consolidating that progress.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Partey, Lokonga, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Leicester City - Schmeichel, Castagne, Amartey, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas, Tielemans, Soumaré, Maddison, Iheanacho, Vardy
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).
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