There is no disputing the miracle that was the 2015/2016 season for Leicester City. Storming to the Premier League title against the odds, everyone said they couldn’t do it. Everyone expected them to fall apart against the big teams, but they didn’t… Apart from against Arsenal.
The Foxes lost on just three occasions last season, two of which were against the Gooners, and their only defeat at the King Power was at the hands of Arsene Wenger and his side. The reigning champions will be desperate to ensure that their first home game of the season is one to remember for all of the right reasons and will not want any kind of repeat of those results from last season.
However, the omens definitely favour the men in red and white, who have never lost at the King Power. Having secured two draws and last season’s 5-2 victory in their three trips to the stadium since it opened in 2002. After last weekend’s disappointing start to their title defence, Claudio Ranieri will want to go back to basics and ensure that his side do not concede as they did twice at Hull City last weekend.
In fact, Leicester City have not beaten Arsenal since November 1994, almost 22 years, a run featuring 19 different Premier League matches. What’s more, that 1994 victory was the first time the Foxes beat the Gunners since 1983. Talk about a bogey team…
A key man for the Gunners will be Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez. The striker loves playing at the King Power Stadium and has scored four goals across his two visits to the ground, making it one of his favourite stomping grounds since arriving at the Emirates from Barcelona.
Arsene Wenger will have to make sure that Sanchez is not isolated as he was in last week’s defeat to Liverpool, where the Chilean was deployed centrally with Olivier Giroud not fit enough to start. Sanchez was left alone up front and became frustrated with the Gunners resorting to long balls forward to bypass Jurgen Klopp’s high pressing game as Sanchez was dominated by two large central defenders, much like he will be by Robert Huth and Wes Morgan unless Arsenal favour a different style in their clash with the reigning champions.
Defeat for the Foxes on Saturday would be the first time that Claudio Ranieri has overseen back to back defeats since taking charge, with that last run to happen under Nigel Pearson in February 2015. Whilst it may seem inevitable to happen at some point this season with the increased number of fixtures due to Champions League participation, it would be a devastating start to the club’s title defence.
If the Foxes are to prove the omens wrong, they will have to overcome a strong Arsenal side who are expected to welcome back their key men including Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud. They will still have defensive vulnerabilities though, with Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertersacker both out injured and Rob Holding and Calum Chambers starting as the central defensive pairing last weekend, a prospect that Jamie Vardy will be licking his lips at.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam.