Arsenal vs. Leicester: Team News, Potential Lineups for Premier League Opener
The last two months have felt like an eternity, as they seem to do after every season...but finally the Premier League is back in action, and is kicking off on Friday night with Arsenal taking on Leicester, both teams of course wanting to get off to the best possible start.
It's a big year for Arsene Wenger who has signed a new two-year contract earlier this summer, and after last season's antics of 'Wenger Out' Champions League qualification is a must after narrowly missing out to Liverpool.
Arsenal have to come out the blocks quickly this season, and the boss has shown clear intentions during pre-season by winning the Emirates Cup and Community Shield. The Gunners will therefore go into the game in a confident mood even if there are a number of injury doubts for the clash.
Craig Shakespeare will also need to get off to a good start to cement his managerial place after last season's sacking of title winning manager Claudio Ranieri. The Foxes have done well in pre-season beating Borussia Mönchengladbach of particular note and they will want to continue in the same vein on Friday.
Last season Arsenal had the upper hand over Leicester in their two matches, at the King Power the tie resulted in a draw and at the Emirates Arsenal won 1-0.
One only has to go back to Leicester's title winning season in 2015/16 to find an enticing encounter between the two sides. Although Leicester amazingly managed to defy all odds and win the league they did not manage to beat Arsenal home or away.
The first encounter of the season was a high scoring 5-2 victory for Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez completed his hat-trick whilst Jamie Vardy scored a brace, both continuing their fine form. This victory put the Gunners in 4th position and Leicester in 6th, no one was to know that the relegation favourites would triumph later in the season.
The second encounter was a grueling game which saw Danny Simpson sent off and a Danny Welbeck header in the 90th minute which looked to ruin Leicester's chances of winning the league. This was only Leicester City's second defeat in their last 17 Premier League away games.
Alexis Sanchez will miss the next two league matches with an abdominal strain while Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker are all injury doubts for this tie. Mertesacker looks the most likely to start, but Mohamed Elneny is set to replace Ramsey and Welbeck likewise instead of Özil.
Francis Coquelin, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi are definite absentees because of injuries. New signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac are expected to feature in the starting eleven for their Premier League debuts.
Laurent Koscielny is unavailable after receiving a red card and a three-match ban for a ridiculous foul on Enner Valencia in Arsenal’s final league match against Everton, ruling him out of the FA Cup final as well as the first two league matches of the new season.
For this match Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare could opt for a more defensive looking five-man midfield consisting of Marc Albrighton, Andy King, Wilfred Ndidi, Matty James and Demarai Gray. James is set to take Danny Drinkwater's place who is unlikely to be fit due to a thigh strain, while King will replace the crocked summer signing Vicente Iborra.
Shakespeare was hoping that new signing Kelechi Iheanacho would be in contention for a starting spot, however this seems doubtful after picking up a knock on his debut for the Foxes, the Nigerian will probably start on the bench.
Islam Slimani has a knee problem which has hampered his preparations for this match up and therefore Jamie Vardy looks to start as a lone striker.
Another new signing Harry Maguire also looks to start with Robert Huth's ankle injury keeping him out of the frame for the first few games.
Arsenal have needed a world class striker for at least four seasons now and finally they have their hands on clinical finisher Alexandre Lacazette. Although the Frenchman has only successfully played in Ligue 1 and the Europa League, if he can give Arsenal a cutting edge with his goals they will be a tough outlet to beat. The Gunners certainly need his form from his past seasons if they want to win this one.
The £52.7m signing looks to start versus Leicester after showing promise in the Community Shield. The Frenchman was unlucky not to score, hitting the post from a long range curling effort. All football spectators are excited to see what Arsenal's record signing is capable of and will be key to gaining Arsenal three points.
Potential Arsenal Starting Lineup (3-4-3): Cech, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Kolašinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette.
Potential Leicester Starting Lineup (4-5-1): Schmeichel, Simpson, Maguire, Morgan, Fuchs, Albrighton, King, James, Ndidi, Mahrez, Vardy.
Arsenal have won each of their last 10 Premier League home encounters with Leicester City, their joint longest winning streak at home against a single opponent, and by looking at the two potential lineups Arsenal by far look the strongest.
The Gunners have won only one of their last seven opening day Premier League fixtures, losing three of the last four (W1 D3 L3). Arsene Wenger will be looking to rectify this record with a win on Friday - but it's not the safest bet given this record...
Alexandre Lacazette scored 91 goals in the French Ligue 1 over the last four seasons more than any other player in the competition in that period and if that form continues he is bound to set the Premier League alight and contribute to a victory for Arsenal on Friday.
Although Arsenal are notoriously bad on the opening day of the season it looks that they will win the encounter. Even with injuries the squad is far superior than Leicester's and they look the favourites for a win.
Prediction: Arsenal 3 Leicester 1