WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) tackles the Saturday evening showdown between champions Leicester and Arsenal.
Leicester v Arsenal | Saturday 17.30 | BT Sport 1
After both sides suffered dismal defeat on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, champions Leicester and last season’s runners-up, Arsenal, will be determined to kick-start their respective campaigns when they lock horns at King Power Stadium.
The Foxes faced depleted new-boys Hull at the KCOM Stadium in the league’s curtain-raiser, but Claudio Ranieri’s men, so solid and reliable last term, fluffed their lines in dramatic fashion, going down 2-1 to the manager-less Tigers.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were 4-1 down – at home – at one stage against Liverpool in their first game of the campaign and, although the Gunners pulled a couple of goals back to paper over some of the cracks, their dodgy defence has been under fire ever since last Sunday’s showdown.
Will it be defences on top this weekend? I certainly wouldn’t have thought so.
Last season there were no fewer than seven goals scored when these two teams met at the KP – with Arsenal, and Alexis Sanchez in particular, running riot back when it was fashionable to shrug off any talk of Leicester challenging for the title.
By the time that the two teams were due to meet in London, the Foxes were being taken far more seriously, but, once again, it was Wenger’s men who came out on top thanks to a late, late, winner from Danny Welbeck.
Leicester have been leaking goals aplenty, with the Foxes shipping nine goals in three games during the International Champions Cup this summer.
And the concession of four goals in their last two outings will trouble Ranieri, for the champions managed six clean sheets in seven matches during the title run-in last term.
The loss of midfield powerhouse N’Golo Kante is one that is sure to be keenly felt by the Foxes and the hole left by the France international means that Leicester’s defence looks much more vulnerable than it did last term.
Arsenal supporters will be wishing that Ranieri would take the time to tutor Wenger on adding to his squad, for fans of the capital club have, again, been left frustrated by the 66-year-old’s reluctance to splash his cash.
Wenger insists that the Gunners are poised to spend big again and, in all fairness, Arsenal did move to bring in Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka for the best part of £35m– but it is a striker that the fans crave.
Finding someone to put the ball in the net, though, may be the least of Arsenal’s worries if the defensive deficiencies that were plain to see against Liverpool rear their ugly head again.
Leicester’s deadly duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez could be forgiven for licking their lips while watching the Gunners’ Laurel and Hardy defensive style last weekend…
With neither side looking secure, this looks likely to be a goal-laden encounter and the 15/8 (Marathon) quote for more than three goals to be scored is well worth supporting ahead of Saturday’s big match.
Leicester v Arsenal – Over 3.5 Goals (15/8 Marathon)