In the tightly crammed 2020/21 season, football is already back.
We needn’t wait until the weekend to get our Arsenal fix, as Carabao Cup action awaits on Wednesday when Mikel Arteta takes his side to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester.
Both sides have started the Premier League season with 100% records; the Foxes have seen off West Brom and Burnley, while Arsenal made light work of Fulham then made exceedingly heavy work of West Ham.
Given both sides’ finishes in the league last season, they come straight into the competition in the third round stage, a tricky tie both clubs probably would’ve preferred to avoid as they seek progression beyond the first hurdle.
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Coming either side of top-flight outings, we could see changes from both Brendan Rodgers and Arteta, yet the managers will be fully aware that a strong side will be needed if they are to avoid an early exit.
How to Watch on TV
When Is Kick Off? Wednesday September 23rd
What Time Is Kick Off? 19:45 (BST)
Where Is it Played? The King Power Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? fuboTV (US)
Arsenal suffered a scare pre-game against West Ham when Kieran Tierney pulled out of the starting lineup with a hip concern. Arteta quelled fears this could be a long-term problem, instead stating it was just a precaution. Still, he’s unlikely to be risked for this game. David Luiz could be in line after recovering from a neck issue.
The likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers and Gabriel Martinelli are still unavailable.
William Saliba could make his first competitive start for the Gunners having played no part in either of the club’s opening two league fixtures.
For Leicester, they could hand a first start of the season to James Maddison, who has recovered from a problem that sidelined him for the latter stages of the 2019/20 campaign. Right-back Ricardo Pereira is still out with a cruciate ligament rupture, while Jonny Evans looks unlikely to recover in time from a thigh injury.
There could be a debut for new loan signing Cengiz Under, who completed his move from Roma in time to be able to feature.
Leicester: Ward; Justin, Morgan, Soyuncu, Fuchs; Choudhury, Under, Maddison, Tielemans, Albrighton; Iheanacho
Arsenal: Leno; Saliba, Holding, Kolasinac; Saka, Elneny, Willock, Maitland-Niles; Pepe, Nketiah, Nelson
As previously mentioned, both sides have enjoyed a winning start to life in the Premier League after two rounds of fixtures. It was 3-0 scorelines for Arsenal and Leicester against Fulham and West Brom respectively, while the Gunners trudged to a late 2-1 win over West Ham.
Eddie Nketiah scored the winner on that occasion, while the Foxes sealed a 4-2 victory over the Clarets as Dennis Praet’s superb strike rounded off a solid night for Rodgers’ side.
At the tail end of last season it wasn’t quite as smooth for Wednesday’s opponents, who relinquished a Champions League place with some dreadful from. Just three wins from their final 17 matches meant they dropped out of the top four and finished in fifth place.
On the other hand, the Gunners improved as the season wore on, which stemmed after a horrendous spell of just two wins from 17 in the Premier League. A fine end to the season culminated in a historic 14th FA Cup victory.
Here is how each side has fared in their last five fixtures.
Leicester 4-2 Burnley (20/09)
West Brom 0-3 Leicester (13/09)
Leicester 1-1 Blackburn (05/09)
Leicester 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday (29/08)
Leicester 0-1 Chelsea (28/06)
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham (19/09)
Fulham 0-3 Arsenal (12/09)
Arsenal 1(5)-1(4) Liverpool (29/08)
MK Dons 1-4 Arsenal (25/08)
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea (01/08)
How much will either side want this clash? Both clubs have top four ambitions, while there is also Europa League to contend with for the pair. A return to the Champions League is paramount to Arsenal, while Leicester will be hoping to avoid the drop in consistency that they saw in the second half of last season.
Of course, maintaining the winning feeling throughout the camp is vitally important, so both sides will put teams out they expect to win the match. Who has the better second team, then? For the sake of home advantage, it’s tough to see the Gunners going to Foxes’ backyard and leaving with a win.
Expect it to be a tight affair – one that fortunately doesn’t go to extra-time or a replay – where individual moments of magic could decide the outcome. While as a supporter you want to win all the trophies you can, this is a competition I would have been very happy not to have played in at all. This doesn’t mean forfeiting – never – just that in an already congested season, the Carabao Cup could have been scrapped to keep players fresh.
It isn’t, though, so it must be competed in with absolute professionalism, while it’s also a chance for the fringe players in the squad to stake a claim for a starting berth. However, this could be an early exit for the Gunners.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Arsenal