Arsenal head north today to take on Leicester City and will look to right their Premier League fortunes against the third place Foxes. The Gunners have lost three of their last four in the league, a disappointing run considering their improved play since Boxing Day. Leicester were unceremoniously bounced from the Europa League on Thursday by Slavia Praha. Arsenal advanced over Benfica in dramatic fashion. So if there are any lingering effects from the midweek, they might tip things in the Gunners’ favor.
The Gunners could use anything they can manage to help turn the tide against Brendan Rodgers’ side. Leicester have given Arsenal trouble lately: the Foxes have won the last four matches between the clubs in the Premier League, including a 1-0 win in October earlier this season. Jamie Vardy’s winner in the fall made it 11 goals in 12 matches against the Gunners for the striker, one of his best scoring records against any club.
With Thursday’s flat and disappointing performance, Leicester must be at least a little bit worried that they’re heading into what has become a worrying trend for the club and for Brendan Rodgers sides — an end of season slump. You’ll remember that last year, the Foxes missed out on the Champions League by absolutely collapsing down the stretch. They aren’t a particularly deep team, and their reliance on a small core of players to carry the club has come back to bite them in the past.
The Foxes have also been hit hard with injuries of late. Centerback Wesley Fofana, defender James Justin, midfielder Dennis Praet, and attacker Ayoze Perez are all out. Most importantly, James Maddison limped off against Aston Villa with a groin injury that will force him to miss today’s match as well. His absence will be keenly felt. He provides the bulk of the midfield creativity for the Foxes.
The Gunners injury list is quite short — just Alex Runarsson misses out today. The keeper picked up a knee injury in training a few weeks ago, and the club hasn’t said much about the severity of the problem. Rob Holding, who was concussed last weekend against Manchester City, has been cleared for selection today.
My hope is that Mikel Arteta rotates his side and rests some of his key players, especially Bukayo Saka, who has played the second most minutes of anybody at the club this year. I’d also like to see Kieran Tierney, who is coming back from injury, get a break. The Gunners cannot afford to lose either to injury, and they both could use a break.
Arsenal - Leno, Cedric, David Luiz, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Elneny, Pepe, Smith Rowe, Willian, Lacazette
Six changes from Thursday— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 28, 2021
⛔️ Cedric and Pablo come in
Mo partners Granit
⚡️ Nico and Willian start
Laca captains the side#LEIARS
Leicester - Schmeichel, Castagne, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas, Ricardo, Ndidi, Tielemans, Barnes, Iheanacho, Vardy
WHAT: Arsenal at Leicester
WHERE: The King Power, Leicester
WHEN: Sunday, February 28th 4 AM PT | 7 AM ET | 12 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN. Streaming on FuboTV ($$$) and NBCSports.com (TV provider log-in required)
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