Brendan Rodgers talks! “There is no easy game in the Premier League, no matter what form teams are in. We have big respect for Arsenal and the quality they have. Their players at the top end of the field can score and create goals. So we’re going to have to be what we’ve been for most of the season: concentrated. We have to defend well as a team and show our qualities when we have the ball, and play with speed and with the combinations that we have been. We’re under no illusions, it’ll be a tough game for us.”
Unai Emery adds: “Good afternoon. We want to use our players and impose our idea and quality. This match is very important for us. We need to show confidence.”
The 3pm kick-offs are done and dusted. Sheffield United are up into fifth place after their 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur; Arsenal have been nudged down to sixth. But the Gunners can reclaim fifth spot if they avoid defeat here. Leicester meanwhile can leapfrog Chelsea and Manchester City to move into second spot with a win.
It’s Remembrance Sunday tomorrow. The poppy will grace Leicester’s famous blue shirt …
… and is also rendered on the retro yellow change strip Arsenal will be sporting today.
If It Ain’t Broke dept. Upwardly mobile Leicester, who have won four on the bounce, are unchanged. They name the same XI that won 2-0 at Crystal Palace last Sunday.
By comparison, unsettled Arsenal, without a win in four, make three changes to the team held at home by Wolves last Saturday. Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac and Rob Holding replace Kieran Tierney, Sokratis Papastathopolous and Dani Ceballos. It’s Bellerin’s first Premier League start since January, having suffered a serious knee injury against Chelsea at the start of the year. And Mesut Ozil keeps his place, which is always news these days.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Perez, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy.
Subs: Justin, Morgan, Gray, Albrighton, Ward, Choudhury, Praet.
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Luiz, Kolasinac, Torreira, Chambers, Guendouzi, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Subs: Tierney, Papastathopoulos, Pepe, Martinez, Willock, Martinelli, Saka.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).
Leicester City are in a good place right now. To be exact, third in the Premier League table and in the quarter-finals of the League Cup. They’ve won eight of their last ten matches in all competitions, the only bumps in the road having been narrow defeats at Old Trafford and Anfield. They’ve spanked Newcastle by five and Southampton by nine – nine! – all the while playing some glorious football. Oh Brendan, we never doubted you!
Arsenal aren’t in such a chipper mood. Their form has been hideous. They’ve won just twice in the league since September, against Aston Villa and Bournemouth, and they’ve failed to hang onto leads in each of their last four games, against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Vitoria Guimaraes. There’s open revolt within the fanbase, folk not best pleased with Granit Xhaka or Unai Emery. Things are coming to a head. These could be end times. Put it this way: if they lose tonight, you’ll be rubbernecking Arsenal Fan TV, won’t you.
And yet Arsenal are still fifth in the table. They’ve got as good options up front as anyone in the league in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. Kieran Tierney is a proper talent at left-back. And David Luiz is always worth the entrance fee, one way or another. Can they put a stop to Brendan’s gallop and enjoy a beautiful day in Mr Rodgers’ neighbourhood? Or will the in-form Jamie Vardy, the division’s leading scorer, push po’ Unai to the brink? We’ll find out soon enough. It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm GMT.