Can Arsenal start the league season confidently?
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Leicester - Premier League - 11.08.2017
And so it begins. From winning the FA Cup to winning the Community Shield--defeating Chelsea each time--we now embark on a Prem campaign with a bit of momentum, if not confidence. To open against Leicester only exacerbates the nerves and when you look at the 2017/18 Premier League betting odds you'll notice that Arsenal aren't considered challengers by the bookmakers. Yes, it's been nice to add Lacazette and Kolašinac, but there's been more talk around Mahrez joining Arsenal than about the actual opening of the season. So it goes. Will this be Mahrez's audition? There is still time enough in the transfer-window to consummate. For now, though, the more-pressing matter is to start the campaign properly. With that in mind, nothing less than a proper battering of the Foxes will do.
While we wait on the rumours swirling around Mahrez, we would do well to notice the business that Leicester have done. They've added Kelechi Iheanacho from Man City for a fee of some £25m and Vicente Iborra from Sevilla for £13m. While these might not strike fear into the hearts of many, these moves do suggest that the Foxes under Craig Shakespeare hope to better last season's mid-table finish (12th, but three points away from 8th, for those wondering). Of course, they're a long way from reclaiming anything resembling their odds-defying Prem-winning form of of 2015-16, but they're still uncomfortably close from nipping at Arsenal's heels.
At our end, there are reasons enough for optimism. The additions of Lacazette and Kolašinac have strengthened key areas, and the fact that each has opened his account, more or less, has to bolster the squad's confidence even if the betting market isn't favouring them at present. Without making too much of it, to have beaten Chelsea to win both the FA Cup and the Community Shield augurs well. We might as well add in the Emirates Cup as well, even if it does come with a bit of an asterisk.
At a more-significant level, the squad has looked well-drilled and determined. Whether this means we can compete with the likes of Man City or Chelsea is one question. It should mean that we can dispatch the likes of Leicester and others. As to how we'll do so, we do have to contend with the confirmed absences of Cazorla, Alexis, and Koscielny, and the possible absences of Mertesacker, Ramsey, Coquelin, Gabriel, and Ozil. Even still, we should have enough to start the season off on the right note.
LAST 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 1-0 Leicester (26.04.2017)
- Leicester 0-0 Arsenal (20.08.2016)
- Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (14.02.2016)
- Leicester have not won in 19 of their last 21 away matches in the Prem.
- Arsenal have not lost to Leicester since 19 January 2000.
- Arsenal have won their last seven home-matches agains Leicester.
Cazorla, Alexis, and Koscielny will all miss out; Mertesacker, Ramsey, Gabriel, Mustafi, Ozil, and Coquelin all face late fitness-tests.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Čech; Gibbs, Monreal, Mustafi;   Kolašinac, Elneny, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Iwobi, Lacazette, Giroud.
Expect Leicester to sit back and defend, hoping to hit on a counter. They can't, however, hold off the Arsenal.
Arsenal 2-0 Leicester.
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