For the first time in a while, we are looking to a Premier League fixture with a dash of optimism.
Our win over Manchester City in the FA Cup showed guts and character – traits we have been painfully short of – and hopefully it sparks a run of positive results that we so desperately need.
It isn’t just confidence that we will take from our Semi-Final win – tired legs will be an issue as well as the players left everything out on the field at Wembley. Rotation may come into the equation so players who have been on the sidelines may figure against a resurgent Leicester City side.
There was no fresh injuries incurred in the weekend, but Santi Cazorla, Lucas Perez and David Ospina are again out. What is of interest is the players who may come into the side. Danny Welbeck was originally thought to be out of the game against City, but was fit enough to make the bench. With Olivier Giroud registering a blank in his last game, could Welbeck again return to lead the attack? His pace could be key against a Foxes defence who will be without captain Wes Morgan.
Alexis is pretty much undroppable at present, as is Mesut Ozil, and both were industrious and key against City. One player who has really enjoyed some form of late is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and his excellent grasp of our new formation has seen The Ox rise to prominence. His deliveries, his running at the defence, has been chief among reasons why we have won our last two games.
Theo Walcott has missed out in those two games, despite his excellent run of goals. The speedy attacker may just come back into the side in order to keep legs as fresh as possible, and with our next game being the North London Derby, eyes may drift toward the weekend rather than this game.
Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi may all feature in this game as it is the least demanding when compared to the next two – which is tottenham and Man United. Objectively, should our peak-fitness footballers be able to hack these fixtures in such a small space of time?
Shkodran Mustafi is one who looks to be out for the game, and with our switch to 3-5-2 coinciding with his time out of the team, will the German find a passage back into the team as easy as before? Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding have taken to the tactical switch like ducks to water, and with the formation still new, a change in lineup at the back may be detrimental to performance.
One thing is for sure, the game won’t be easy. The Foxes have been in imperious form, and Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his touch in front of goal as well. We failed to beat them in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, and now they have found their form again, a real test to grab all three points is on the cards.
With the negativity of recent months just a bad result away and our European hopes resting on every ninety minutes, it will be the true characters who come to the rescue in every game. We need every one of them to stand up and be counted.
One thing to note, Leicester have not won in their last four games in all competitions and their record against us is pretty awful – one win in the EPL in 21 attempts. Then again, so was Palace’s record against us and look how much that counted for.
A win here would be the first time in over three months we win back to back PL games. That is something that needs to be rectified immediately.
Predicted Lineup – Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.
Predicted Scoreline – 2-0