Arsenal vs. Leicester City Preview
Premier League – Friday 11h August 2017 – Emirates Stadium
FIRST GAME OF THE 2017/18 SEASON
So NOW is where things start…
Our game is first up for the season, and unusually we’re playing on Friday, though we all know the reason why (money/BskyB…)
Pre-season was mixed, with the “highs” of Lacazette’s “debut goal”, the Emirates Cup “win”, and winning a “trophy” vs. Bayern. The lows were losing a friendly badly to Chelsea in China, even though we deservedly beat them in another friendly, in our own country no less.
Leicester City is not the team they were in 15/16, in their glorious title win of course, but they won’t be easy. Iheanacho looks like a decent signing, plus Mahrez, Vardy, and Drinkwater are good players. Craig Shakespeare has done well following the sacking of Ranieri, but I do genuinely believe on Friday he will face the winter (or early August) of his discontent. Or that despite a rousing pre-match speech to his “friends, players, and countrymen”, he go to bed with a defeat, and focus on a good Midsummer Night’s Dream instead. I’m sorry; I couldn’t resist…..
The 1-0 win vs. Leicester in late 16/17 was not the best performance, though I think we can win again. The team looks settled, we are tactically stronger than before, and our new signings look very promising. Lacazette could have scored in the Community Shield, and Kolasinac looked like a tank. And as Wenger is staying, there is a lot less instability and uncertainty in that sphere at least.
We beat Chelsea without Ozil and Alexis, and other established players such as Xhaka, Per (pre-injury), Monreal, Ox, Welbz, and Iwobi looked sharp also. Overall, I believe we will have too much for them and most football betting sites such as 888Sport feel the same. However there are some other pertinent issues to consider:
Will Wenger switch formations mid-game?
It seems Wenger has realised, to his credit, the error of his ways and is developing tactically. He needs to, given the array of tactically expert managers in the league now. We could well start with a back three, but push on to a back four if we need to get the win late on. Or he may surprise us and start with a back four, and morph into the three at the back system later on. I suspect he will continue with the new formation, but it will be intriguing to see if the switches.
A debut goal (his true debut, not in Australia…) would be cool, I’m sure all would agree. However, even if it doesn’t score, seeing his overall contribution would be telling. Would he link up well? Would he be a menace to their defence with his movement? We will see. However, even if he’s shit, it doesn’t mean all is lost. Though a strong performance, even without a goal, would eliminate all doubters.
Ozil is a slight doubt we here but he has now trained so but I believe he will start. However, if he’s on the bench, it may raise eyebrows. Or would it? Iwobi performed well vs. Chelsea and Welbeck did well too, and is suited to the inside/support forward role as much as Ozil is. We will see, but I believe the likelihood of him starting is high.
Seeing him up against other “hardmen” like Huth or Morgan would be cool, and as Leicester saw the Community Shield performance, I believe they would be seeing how he functions. If he scores again, it would be excellent. But his pace and power, and apparent strong mentality, are what we need now and both would serve us well.
Cech or Ospina
Maybe it’s weird to say, but could Ospina start? Possibly we will see a broader mix of both in League games, who knows? However, I think Ospina gets unfairly maligned, and it’s not as if Cech has made mistakes. He made two critical ones on his debut vs. West Ham, and in other prime games (Chelsea away). Ospina saved us vs. PSG both home and away, and bar the equaliser did well in the Cup Final last season. Wenger sometimes likes to tinker with stuff, so Ospina here wouldn’t surprise me, especially as he says he wants to stay and progress at the club.
I’d prefer the Ox at right-wing back, though it is a very interesting dilemma that Wenger has. I believe he may mix the two, as he wants to utilise the best out of them both.
– Xhaka/Elneny or Xhaka/somebody else
Xhaka is a given, though the partnership with Elneny proved wonders. All the same, possibly the Ox could start here, or he may revert to Ramsey again. I think the Ox or Elneny would better complement Xhaka, due to their better passing and movement.
A projected team is below:
The last PL opener we won was in 14/15, in which we beat Crystal Palace 2-1. The performance was abominable, despite the win, however I believe we can get both this time. As aforementioned, we look sharp, our signings are bedding in and looking primed, and we have top talent (Alexis) to come in rearing to go. Let’s put the Aston Villa, West Ham, and Liverpool defeats behind us, and play well AND win this time. We have better players than Leicester overall, and as we’re at home, I believe we can win.
Arsenal 2-0 Leicester City