Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has labelled Riyad Mahrez as one of the Premier Legaue’s most “dominating” players ahead of the Leicester City star’s trip to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Algeria international has been a key figure for Leicester this campaign, leading them to the top of the table with 14 goals and 10 assists in 24 league games.
Wenger expects a tough task in containing Jamie Vardy and Mahrez, a player the Frenchman admits slipped through the net of Arsenal’s vast scouting network.
“Maybe Vardy is a bigger goalscoring threat, whereas Mahrez is the bigger threat creating chances,” the Arsenal manager said at a news conference.
“That’s why they are playing so well together.
“The amazing thing about Mahrez is that he not only creates a lot of chances, but also scores plenty of goals.
“I didn’t know him when he was playing in Ligue 2, but now he is one of the dominating players in the Premier League, so they have done very well to scout him.”
Arsenal beat Leicester 5-2 earlier this season, but Wenger nonetheless expects a difficult match when both sides meet again at the weekend.
“There is still a long way to go in the title race, but they are in a very strong position. They have silenced their doubters,” Wneger said.
“Many people said they would no longer be among the top teams by Christmas, but they are still there. They are very solid and got a great result against Manchester City.
“They still feel they have nothing to lose, but they are top of the league and nerves can start playing a role. There is pressure on Arsenal as well, but we see that as an opportunity to show what we can do.
“We have to focus on our own performances and find the momentum back. We cannot count on the results of Leicester. We beat them 5-2 in the reverse fixture, but they then returned to winning ways the following game.
“It is not about Leicester for us. We had not won for a while, so the win over Bournemouth was a big relief. We have to win a few games in a row again.”