It feels like I’ve said this too many times in the last year, but here goes one more time. This could well be the most important game of Arsenal’s season.
The Gunners go into this one off the back of four consecutive victories and with the smallest of chances of playing Champions League football next season.
The 2-0 victory over Wolves on the weekend really did feel like a turning point under Mikel Arteta’s reign and a sign of the things to come, whether that’s in Europe or not.
Arsenal are in a position where every game in the Premier League is now ‘must win’, whilst also hoping their close rivals in United, Chelsea and Wolves manage to drop points.
With the possibility of fifth place opening up as a route to Champions League football due to Man City’s ongoing hearing, Arteta is ensuring his side fight until the very last kick of the campaign.
A crucial run of games started off perfectly at Molineux on Saturday, but as Arsenal return to the Emirates they welcome a Brendan Rodgers side who are keen to write their wrongs since lockdown.
Top four isn’t exactly nailed on for The Foxes, who lead Arsenal by nine points with five games to go in the 2019/20 season, which has had its fair share of surprises on and off the field.
Six points behind fifth place United and eight points away from fourth place Chelsea means Arsenal have a mountain to climb, but victory over Leicester would make things interesting for everyone battling for a place in the promise land.
After being left out of the matchday squad for the last three games, we’re still asking questions on how serious Mesut Ozil’s back injury is. The midfielder hasn’t featured since the restart and is suffering some minor soreness in his back. Whoever you want to believe on this one, we’re unlikely to see the German even if he has recovered.
Nicolas Pepe is likely to return to frame after missing the Wolves game because his wife went into labour. Meanwhile, Bernd Leno is stepping up his recovery and is now looking likely to be three weeks away from lacing up for training.
Other than that, it’s business as usual for the physio room with long-term absentees Pablo Mari, Gabriel Martinelli and Calum Chambers all sidelined until the start of next season at the very earliest.
The Foxes are sweating on the fitness of star duo Ben Chilwell and James Maddison, who are major doubts for their visit to London. Maddison sat out their 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace at the weekend, whilst left-back Chilwell was forced off at half-time during the win.
Other than that, Rodgers has his pick of the rest of the squad and will be keen to make some rotations as he prepares for a European race he wasn’t expecting pre-Covid!
P33 W12 D13 L8
Last five: L W W W W
Injuries: Ozil (doubt), Mari, Martinelli, Leno, Chambers
P33 W17 D7 L9
Last five: D D L L W
Injuries: Maddison (doubt), Chilwell (doubt)
Likely Line-Up (3-4-3)
GK: Emiliano Martinez
DEF: Mustafi, Luiz, Tierney
MID: Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka
ATT: Pepe, Nketiah, Aubameyang