After Arsenal caused a shock in the FA Cup semi-final to beat Manchester City, they return to league action and they will feel more confident about their chances of finishing in the top four. It remains an uphill battle for the Gunners, but they now have positive momentum and all they can do is focus on themselves. If they win their matches, they will have a good chance of finishing in the top four. They face a difficult match against current champions Leicester City this week, a team that have been in good form themselves.
Although the Gunners are currently in 7th position, they have games in hand on all of the teams above them. If they win all three of their matches in hand over Liverpool, they will move level with the Reds. That may be a tall order, but Arsenal normally finish a season strongly and they will be full of confidence after their FA Cup win over Manchester City. Arsene Wenger has switched to a 3-4-2-1 and since the change of formation, his side have won both of their matches. There are some problems with the system that need to be ironed out, but the likes of Rob Holding, Gabriel and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have adjusted quickly to their new roles.
The decision to give the job to Craig Shakespeare is looking to be one of the best decisions made by a club this season. The Englishman has completely revitalised this Leicester City squad and eased fears of relegation. That said, he will need to finish the season strongly if he is to secure the job on a full-time basis. He may have won over the players, but the board will want a big name manager if one is available and Shakespeare doesn’t fit that description. The Foxes have lost only one of the seven league matches since the managerial change and they will pose a real test to Arsenal.
In the previous meeting of the two clubs this season, the sides ended level as the match ended 0-0 at the KP Stadium. Arsenal have had good fortune in this fixture, as they haven’t lost to the Foxes since 2000. During their title-winning campaign last season, Leicester lost only three matches and two of those came against the Gunners.
- On Sunday, Arsenal reached their 20th FA Cup final, which is more than any other team in the competition’s history.
- Leicester have scored 17 goals in seven matches since Craig Shakespeare took over as manager.
It is going to be a huge few weeks for the Chilean as he attempts to prove to the biggest clubs in Europe that he has something to offer at the highest level. Despite Arsene Wenger’s desire to keep Sanchez at the club for next season at least, it is more likely that the club choose to sell him this summer if he doesn’t agree to extend his contract. The Gunners can’t afford to let him leave for nothing in the summer of 2018, therefore they will need to sort his future out at the end of the current season. After weeks of rumours regarding his relationship with the rest of the squad and his attitude in training, the forward delivered a match-winning performance at Wembley to help his side into the FA Cup final. The 28-year-old has contributed 19 goals and nine assists in the Premier League this season and he will be hoping to improve on that record during the run-in. Although Leicester have been better in recent weeks, their defence remains fallible and Sanchez will cause them a lot of problems if he plays to the levels that he can reach.
After signing for the club in January, Wilfred Ndidi has been a revelation and has gone some way to filling the Ngolo Kante shaped hole in the Leicester midfield. In his 11 Premier League matches, he has averaged 6.1 ball recoveries per match and provided some much-needed aggression to the Foxes. Furthermore, Ndidi is good in possession and capable of carrying the ball forward, using his power to beat opposition defenders. Since moving to England, he has contributed a goal and an assist, in what has been a good start to his career in England. Arsenal have recently switched to a 3-4-2-1 formation, which means there will be a possibility for the visitors to dominate central areas. Ndidi has the ability to get the better of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. If he wins the battle against the Arsenal pair, Leicester will have a foundation from which to push on from and secure a positive result.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a doubt after picking up a knock during the FA Cup semi-final. Shkodran Mustadi and David Ospina remain a week away from a return to the first team. Santi Cazorla and Lucas Perez may not feature again this season.
Wes Morgan and Islam Slimani are a few weeks away from action, meaning they will miss out this week. Nampalys Mendy hasn’t had a great first season in England and he may not play again this season.
This will be a tricky game for Arsenal as Leicester have been playing with confidence and have nothing to lose at the Emirates Stadium. They will still be looking for one more victory to secure their Premier League status and the players will be keen to play well for Craig Shakespeare to help him keep the job past this summer. That said, Arsenal will be full of confidence after beating Manchester City at the weekend and the players will want to finish the season on a good note with a string of wins, putting pressure on the sides above them. A top four finish remains unlikely, but if they win the rest of their matches, they will stand a good chance. I expect them to secure a win on Wednesday to get that off to a good start.