EPL 2015: Arsenal vs Leicester City
The Foxes (3-3-0) have been a revelation under new manager Claudio Ranieri and are up in fourth place with 12 points.
They rallied back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke City last weekend. Jamie Vardy pulled one back, before Riyad Mahrez scored his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot to earn a point for Ranieri’s side.
Leicester also reached the last 16 of the League Cup as they beat West Ham United 2-1 in extra time at home Tuesday evening.
Twenty-year-old Foxes striker Joe Dodoo opened the scoring after just five minutes, but Mauro Zarate leveled for the Hammers midway through the first half. The game looked set for a penalty shootout before Andy King headed a winner for Leicester in the 116th minute.
Ranieri admires the strength of the Arsenal squad and expects a tough match against Arsene Wenger’s side.
“Arsene can choose his players,” Ranieri told his club’s website. “Maybe he can put (Alexis) Sanchez in the goal and put (Petr) Cech as a striker! It’s always a great team.
“Arsenal in my opinion are a very good team – now I will concentrate on how we can win against them. Every match is my biggest challenge – this is my philosophy. They are fantastic, good quality and move the ball very well and very quickly. If you want to find a weakness, it’s difficult, but we will try to find it.”
The Gunners (3-1-2) saw a four-match unbeaten run in the Premier League end with a controversial 2-0 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
Defender Kurt Zouma gave Chelsea the lead on 53 minutes before Calum Chambers diverted an Eden Hazard into his own net in the 90th minute.
The talking point of the match was a clash between Chelsea striker Diego Costa and Arsenal defender Gabriel.
After a lengthy on-field row, Gabriel was sent off seconds before half-time for kicking out at Costa. Arsenal finished the match with nine men after midfielder Santi Cazorla was shown a second yellow card with just over 10 minute to play.
The Football Association later rescinded Gabriel’s red card and handed a three-match ban to Costa for violent conduct after studying video footage of the match. Costa had been accused of shoving his hand into the face of Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny.
The Gunners returned to winning ways on Wednesday with a 2-1 League Cup win at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
French midfielder Mathieu Flamini scored both goals – the second with a superb volley – to earn the Gunners a place in the last 16.
“I’m very happy for the team because it was a difficult and tough game,” the 31-year-old told a post-match press conference. “Personally I am happy because I scored two goals.
“It was important because it was a derby. When you play Tottenham you want to win the game, but also for the fans because it’s a massively important game for them. We did a great job and now we can start the new week.”
Leicester’s Nathan Dyer is a doubtful with a knee problem. Arsenal trio Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are all out through injury.
The Gunners took four points off Leicester last season, including a 2-1 win at the Emirates in February. Koscielny and Theo Walcott scored before halftime and Leicester could only come up with an Andrej Kramaric goal at the hour mark to halve the deficit. The sides drew 1-1 at the King Power Stadium in August with Sanchez scoring on 20 minutes, only to see Leonardo Ulloa equalise two minutes later.
The Foxes won the first Premier League meeting between the sides 2-1 in November 1994. They haven’t won any of their 17 subsequent top-flight meetings, going 0-6-11, and been outscored 41-15 in the 18 all-time matches.