Arsenal vs. Leicester City Predictions: English wingers to star at the Emirates
Arsenal vs Leicester Odds
Arsenal welcome Leicester to the Emirates Stadium in Super Sunday’s second game, live on Sky Sports Main Event, as the hosts look to secure their grip on a Top 4 place.
Arsenal vs Leicester Tips
The turnaround Mikel Arteta has overseen in North London has been remarkable, guiding his side from bottom of the league and goalless after three games to challenging for the Champions League. In fact, the spot looks likely to come down to a dogfight between the Gunners and bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, with the two sides still to face off at the latter’s stadium.
Arteta has his young side playing some scintillating stuff; with the attacking midfield trio of academy starlets Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli flanking sumptuous Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard as he pulls the strings in the 10. The Gunners have only lost once since an embarrassing defeat to Everton at Goodison Park in early December, winning eight of 10 games since then - losing only to Manchester City who needed a 93rd minute winner.
Impressive victories over Wolves (twice) and West Ham - whilst pushing City all the way - have shown they’re good enough to compete at the top end of the league. The same was the case, or so we thought, for Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City side who somehow find themselves languishing in 12th alongside Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Foxes have lost more games than they’ve won at this stage of the season for the first time since Brendan Rodgers took charge, and a lot of their problems stem from a rather porous defence. Only four sides have conceded more goals (per 90) than Leicester’s 1.68 this season, while their expected goals against (42.8) is the 4th worst in the division.
There are signs they may be tightening up at the back though, with three consecutive clean sheet victories putting a halt to the onslaught of goals they were conceding.
While two were against Leeds and Burnley - the former haven’t scored in four games and the latter are the league’s 2nd lowest scorers - the most recent was certainly impressive.A 2-0 victory over Ligue 1 side Rennes in the Europa Conference League as the free-scoring French side have scored the 2nd most goals in their division this year, just three behind the juggernaut that is PSG.
If they are to make it four in a row here they’ll have to do so once again without the services of Jonny Evans and Timothy Castagne at the back who remain sidelined until at least April, as does talisman Jamie Vardy. Wesley Fofana could be back in contention for the first time since breaking his leg in pre-season, though catching COVID hasn’t helped his chances of a return this week.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have no new injury concerns with Emile Smith-Rowe likely to return after a bout of COVID, though Takehiro Tomiyasu remains doubtful.It means Cedric Soares starts again at right-back, and he’ll have to deal with the tricky Harvey Barnes.
Barnes has been a constant outlet for Leicester of late, and hasn’t been afraid to take a shot when the opportunity presents itself. The winger has taken 61 shots in 26 games in the league and European competitions, and has certainly ramped up his domestic product of late. He’s taken 14 shots in his last three Premier League starts (4.67 per game) and has managed at least two in each of his last five Premier League starts. He also has a good record in this fixture, managing six shots (and three on target) in a 45-minute substitute appearance earlier this season.
Another player that’s increased their production of late is Arsenal’s own English forward, Bukayo Saka. After only managing nine shots on target in his first 17 league appearances this season, the youngster has racked up 11 in his last eight starts - taking at least one in seven of those games. It coincided with an increase in goals too. He’s bagged six times in those eight games - compared to twice in the 17 before - so the 5/2 about him finding the net could be worth a dabble too. He faces a Leicester side that has allowed an astronomical 4.9 shots per 90 in the league this term, with only Leeds and Norwich allowing more than 5.0, while Arsenal have taken 4.9 per 90 themselves.
It’s no secret that Leicester have been dreadful from set-pieces this season, and while they’ve been better defensively of late, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them fall foul to their biggest weakness.
No Premier League side has conceded more goals (13) or allowed more shots (122) from set-pieces this season, with their frailties in the air causing recurring problems.The 91st minute equaliser scored by West Ham centre-back Craig Dawson a few weeks back was just the latest in a string of defenders scoring against the Foxes in the last few months. Nottingham Forest’s Joe Worrall, Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte, and Southampton’s Jan Bednarek have all scored against Brendan Rodgers’ side since the start of December, while Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa bagged himself a brace at Villa Park.
As far as Arsenal are concerned, no centre-back has scored more goals this season than Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes. With three to his name already, the latest coming against Wolves last month, he possesses the aerial prowess to really threaten the Foxes in this one. He also ranks 4th for shots among centre-backs (21) and has managed six in his last five games - hitting the target twice. His goal after five minutes in the reverse fixture set Arsenal on the way to a 2-0 victory, while fellow Brazilian David Luiz scored when these sides met last season too.
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