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Prediction: Leicester City vs Arsenal

Verdict: Arsenal

Best Odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

New Premier League season got off to a disappointing start for last year’s top two, with both Leicester City and Arsenal losing their respective opening games last weekend. Claudio Ranieri’s side have had an early wake-up call from their title winning dream against Hull, while Gunners were defeated at the hands of Liverpool in a 4-3 thriller at the Emirates.

Leicester City

Foxes have become the first Premier League champions to slip up in the first match of their title defence following their loss to newly promoted Hull. Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass netted for Tigers in what has been a shock start to Claudio Ranieri’s men. Having lost their key midfielder N’Golo Kante, who joined Premier League rivals Chelsea during the summer transfer window, Leicester City are left with a major gap to fill with the French international having been the major force at the centre of the park for Ranieri’s side last term. The Foxes did well in the transfer window though having broken the club’s transfer record with a €19.5 million signing of former CSKA Moscow centre forward Ahmed Musa. Nampalys Mendy has arrived from Nice with the fans hoping he would be a fitting replacement for departed Kante, but Leicester City faithful are aware that the stays of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are likely to be key moments that could go on to define Leicester’s season. Foxes striker and winger were under huge pressure from Arsenal, but they both rejected an opportunity to sign for Gunners committing their future to Leicester by signing new deals much to the pleasure of Claudio Ranieri.

Team News

Italian manager made several changes to his strongest line up in the 2-1 defeat to Hull, but both Roberto Huth and Shinji Okazaki are expected to regain their starting berths at the expense of Luis Hernandez and Ahmed Musa.

Centre back Yohan Benalouanre is the only absentee from the squad with former Fiorentina defender still struggling with injury.

Arsenal

It has been a disappointing start to the season for Arsenal with the 4-3 home defeat to Liverpool setting a mutinous tone at the Emirates. Fans are once again demanding new signings and a change of approach from the manager, who on his own part keeps insisting that football is not a financial competition. It has become evident however that Arsenal will need to reinforce at the back with several injuries to key players giving a serious selection headache to Arsene Wenger. The French manager was forced to partner debutant Rob Holding and Callum Chambers in the heart of defence against Reds and a new centre-back is an absolute must for Arsenal. Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi remains the top target for Gunners, who have been labeled as penny-pinchers by the Spanish media due to their reluctance to pay release clause set by the La Liga outfit. It is becoming increasingly unlikely and even impossible that a new centre-back will be bought in time to feature at the King Power Stadium, but returns of stars from Euro 2016 might be a timely boost for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Team News

Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker remain on the sidelines due to their respective injuries. Aaron Ramsey picked up a hamstring injury and is likely to be unavailable until the international break together with Alex Iwobi. Long forgotten striker Welbeck is out through his knee injiury.

Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud could be reinstated in the starting line-up after spending two weeks in training since their return from holiday.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Leicester have become the 1st champions to open new season with a loss
  • Arsenal are missing 5 first team members for the trip to Leicester
  • Gunners have won 4 of last 5 clashes with Leicester City
  • There have been over 2.3 goals scored in 6 of last 8 games between two sides
  • Foxes are coming off from 4 straight defeats in all competitions

Conclusion

Frustrating start to the new season will see both sides put in a lot of effort to make amends and record a win over big rivals in order to restore the confidence lost. Leicester City have a poor record against the Gunners, who could receive a major boost through the return of Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, which could prove to be crucial in the Saturday’s match.

Verdict: Arsenal

Best Odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

Thu 18 Aug, 2016
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