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Arsenal in top shape for embattled Leicester City

Two top-four hopefuls go head to head when Arsenal welcome Leicester City to the Emirates Stadium.

Both sides were victorious in the Europa League on Thursday night, but come into this weekend off the back of defeats in their last Premier League matches against Manchester City and Aston Villa respectively.

Not since September 1973 have Leicester won at Arsenal – a run of 27 visits to Highbury and the Emirates in all competitions which includes 20 defeats.

Indeed, the Foxes have played more Premier League away games against Arsenal without ever winning than they have against any other opponent in the competition, and they had lost 12 such matches on the bounce before last season’s 1-1 draw in the corresponding fixture.

The Gunners will therefore welcome Brendan Rodgers’s side to North London with open arms and be confident of quickly returning to winning ways in the Premier League despite sitting below their visitors in the table after five games.

Arsenal’s nine-point haul is nothing spectacular at this stage of the campaign, but their only two defeats have come away to Liverpool and Manchester City, so they have got arguably the two toughest games of the season out of the way already.

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Mikel Arteta’s men will be glad to be back at the Emirates too, having won nine and lost none of their 11 home league matches so far in 2020.

One of the two occasions in which they dropped points in that time did come on Leicester’s last visit in July, but the two sides have already faced off once since then with Arsenal knocking the Foxes out of the EFL Cup at the King Power Stadium in September.

Such has been the remarkable nature of this goal-laden Premier League season that Arsenal’s distinctly ordinary tally of six goals conceded in five games is actually the second-best defensive record in the division heading into the weekend, but there are more worrying signs at the other end of the pitch.

Only Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion have had fewer shots than the Gunners so far this season, while their two home games have yielded only 13 attempts on goal – although they have won them both.

Leicester, meanwhile, have the best conversion rate in the division with 12 goals from 49 efforts, but they have struggled in Jamie Vardy’s absence recently and travel to the Emirates without a goal or a point in the league since their unforgettable 5-2 victory at Manchester City last month.

That triumph appeared to be a statement of intent from Rodgers’s side this season, yet back-to-back home defeats to West Ham United and Aston Villa have brought them firmly back down to earth and they could now lose three Premier League games in a row for the first time since February 2019.

It may be that another visit to ‘big six’ opposition is enough to shake Leicester out of their slump, and both the potential return of Vardy against his favourite opponents and the midweek win over Zorya Luhansk will help with that.

James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were all on the scoresheet as the Foxes got their Europa League campaign off to a winning start in a much more convincing fashion than Arsenal managed on the same evening.

The Gunners needed to come from behind against Rapid Vienna as two goals in four second-half minutes – from David Luiz and the previously misfiring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – spared Bernd Leno’s blushes following an error-strewn performance from the keeper.

Leno is unlikely to get away with that to the same extent against Leicester, particularly if Vardy is back, and despite their recent defeats the visitors do still boast a fine away record this season.

Rodgers’s side have won both of their league games on the road, scoring eight goals in the process, having failed to win a single one since New Year’s Day before that.

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