The international break is finally over, and we’ve had to wait a little longer than other teams to return to action, as we take on Leicester City this Monday night.
The teams above us grabbed maximum points, aside from Chelsea, and we can draw level with them on points should we defeat the Foxes at The Emirates, but this will be far from a simple task.
Claude Puel’s side has real talent sprinkled throughout the eleven, and a European push is not entirely beyond them. Up top, the alert and rapid Jamie Vardy poses a constant threat that only the most switched on defences can silence, and Harry Maguire, Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi will push their opposing numbers hard.
Puel will be aware that his side are the epitome of mid-table floaters right now, with no real tether to the relegation zone nor the European places. They are performing below what he, we and they expect and they will be eager to push themselves forward toward a position their squad should be attaining.
Us? Well, Unai Emery and Hector Bellerin have both moved to pour cold water on the flames of optimism that are licking around Arsenal right now, stating we are a work in progress.
If we win what will be our tenth victory in a row, those words may fall on deaf ears.
Sokratis is a real doubt with an ankle injury, so Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding are primed to continue in the centre of defence. Laurent Koscielny has returned to light training but is some distance away from a return.
Bernd Leno will keep the gloves for the foreseeable future as Petr Cech’s hamstring is still in recovery mode. That aside, the eleven will be decided by circumstance and form.
Who is best suited to fight against the effervescent Ndidi in Leicester’s midfield? Lucas Torreira returned from international duty unscathed and is surely first choice, with Granit Xhaka performing excellently of late and a partnership looks to be in bloom.
It is attack that Emery must choose wisely. Aubameyang has been directly involved in 19 goals in the last 21 games and he and Alexandre Lacazette both scored braces in our last game, so that leaves Iwobi, Ozil, Ramsey, Welbeck and Mkhitaryan to duke it out for the two remaining spots.
What Happens Next?
This game has the capacity for lots of goals. There have been 11 goals in just the last two games, and I think this will go the same way.
Leicester have never won at our home ground in the Premier League era, the last time they won at Arsenal was way back in 1973. Will that continue? I think so, but it will be tight.
Our last fixture was a 3-1 loss, but we are full of confidence and at home too, with our key players more or less rested. Lacazette, Aubameyang, Ozil, Monreal, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding - all were without any international involvement, so will be fresh - and this will be key.
Our stamina will be needed as Leicester like to play on the break. If we can snuff out Vardy’s runs, then a major weapon will be nullified. We need to be switched on.
If we can do that, we should have enough in attack to shade this game, but expect a fair amount of goals, perhaps a card or two as well.
Predicted Lineup - Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline - 4-2 to The Arsenal