Leicester have not won away to Arsenal since 1973 and today’s team news makes for ominous reading for them. James Maddison and Ben Chilwell have not made the fitness cut, two key absentees. Ryan Bennet’s first start suggests they’re going to play with a back three, as they did in the second half of the win against Palace, with the supreme utility man Marc Albrighton likely to act as a left wingback. On the plus side, that could be a potent front three if the service is right.

As for Arsenal, it looks like they’re also going with a back three, and why not, it has served them well in recent weeks. It’s the formation in which David Luiz looks most secure: it’ll be fascinating to see how he deals with Jamie Vardy today, as the the striker has bedazzled him in the past. Up front, Alexandre Lacazette gets the nod at centre-forward, with young Nketiah on the bench, along with Nicolas Pepe, who’s available again.

Arsenal: Martinez; Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney; Saka, Lacazette, Aubemeyang

Subs: Macey, holding, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Pepe, Nketiah

Hello. What a doozy of a game we have in store here. The relegation brawl has its appeal, but the race for Champions League qualification is the most intriguing unresolved story in this Premier League season. Today’s duel will have a big say in how it plays out: given the quality of the other teams challenging for the top four, neither Leicester or Arsenal can afford to lose.

That Arsenal are even being mentioned as top four contenders is a tribute to media hype merchants the progress made in recent weeks under Mikel Arteta. Arsenal arrive at the King Power on the back of three straight Premier League wins and a victory over Sheffield United in the FA Cup. More than the results, it’s the manner that has impressed: they have shown steel, energy and structure; they have defended and pressed like … well, like nothing we’ve been used to seeing from Arsenal in recent years.

Continue reading...