Arsenal vs Leicester predictions: Foxes can test confident Gunners
Leicester fans went into 2022-23 frustrated over a lack of signings, worried about rumours concerning the futures of several key players and perplexed by the departure of club captain Kasper Schmeichel on the eve of the new campaign.
The mood will not have been lifted by their opening game of the season, either.
Brendan Rodgers' men conspired to throw away what had looked a comfortable 2-0 lead against Brentford, eventually having to settle for a point against a team they had beaten home and away last season.
Now they take on a side who did the double over them last term, with the Foxes heading to north London to face an Arsenal outfit who sit on the other end of the scale when it comes to early season optimism.
With several new signings, an excellent pre-season campaign and an away win at bogey team Crystal Palace on the opening night, the excited chatter around the Emirates Stadium is of the top four – and maybe more.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has a nearly full-strength squad after Kieran Tierney returned from injury last Friday.
Emile Smith Rowe, Takehiro Tomiyasu and new signing Fabio Vieira all missed the trip to Palace but Tomiyasu played for the Under-21s last week and Smith Rowe is also expected to recover in time to make the squad.
Leicester will be without Ricardo Pereira until 2023 and Ryan Bertrand is expected to be out for another month.
Harvey Barnes remains a couple of weeks from fitness following a knee injury in pre-season.
Otherwise, bar the early-season departures of Schmeichel and Hamza Choudhury, Rodgers has a fully-fit squad.
Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat of Leicester at the Emirates last season was the first time in six meetings that the team hosting the match had managed to win.
However, the comfortable nature of that victory requires context as Leicester arrived with a squad undermined by injury and illness and with attention firmly focused on their Europa Conference League trip to Rennes that was to come four days later.
Jamie Vardy was one of those who missed that game, which will have been a relief to the Gunners given Vardy scored 11 goals in 12 appearances against them between 2015 and 2021.
While Vardy did blank against Arteta’s men in the 2-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium – making it his joint-longest goal drought against them at just two games long – Leicester were unlucky in that match.
They created more chances and won on the expected goals count by 1.2 to 0.9.
The Gunners are far less dependent on any one player – eight different Arsenal goalscorers have netted in their last six meetings with Leicester, with the Foxes' Christian Fuchs also bundling into his own net.
The narratives around both clubs could not be more different at present but this match could be closer than expected.
Rodgers’ men were unfortunate to draw against Brentford last weekend, twice hitting the woodwork and conceding to a wonder strike, although Leicester defender Daniel Amartey will feel he could have done better for both Bees goals.
In goal, Danny Ward could do little about either Brentford strike and he looked solid in only his second top-flight appearance since 2015-16.
His proactiveness when defending corners and free-kicks could help cure Leicester's well-documented set-piece woes, as Schmeichel was far more reluctant to leave his line.
Arsenal did concede two excellent chances at 1-0 down against Palace, with both Eberechi Eze and Odsonne Edouard firing straight at Aaron Ramsdale, and the closely matched nature of the game was reflected in its expected goals rating of 1.0-0.9m just about in Arsenal's favour.
So while the Gunners are still rightly favourites to see off Leicester this weekend, a largely fit and firing Foxes side should put in a much-improved performance compared to their last trip to the Emirates.
They can be expected to at least score in defeat and could even nick a point in what should be an entertaining affair.