Leicester City v Arsenal | Saturday 30th October, 12:30 | BT Sport
The Premier League weekend starts with a mouth-watering clash between Leicester and Arsenal, who both have 14 points after nine games.
Mikel Arteta’s fortunes could be starting to turn with Arsenal unbeaten in six league games (W4, D2) following their easy 3-1 win over Aston Villa. The youngsters are starring, while some of the senior players seem to have realised their responsibilities and stepped up.
The hosts are also finding their form. They’re unbeaten in their last four games in the top-flight and have been involved in plenty of high-scoring contests. Those four have seen 17 goals, with Leicester netting 2+ in each one.
And that run doesn’t count their 4-3 Europa League win against Spartak Moscow or Wednesday’s 2-2 League Cup draw with Brighton. So, their recent games would say we should expect goals.
But Brendan Rodgers is sweating on the fitness of Jamie Vardy after he went off at half-time during their 2-1 win at Brentford last Sunday. The Foxes forward has scored more Premier League goals v Arsenal than he has against any other side in the competition (11). While the 34-year-old has seven in nine this term.
Everyone is sitting up and taking notice of Emile Smith Rowe, and rightly so. He’s been a standout performer for the Gunners in recent weeks, scoring twice in their last four league games.
Bookies keep pricing him up at odds-against prices for 2+ shots and that’s worth taking. Sky Bet were the first to get their markets out and the 11/8 available for the talented youngster to hit two here looks too good, considering how it’s priced elsewhere.
He’s had 13 efforts in eight league starts, hitting figures of 2, 2, 0, 2, 1, 1, 2 & 2 within that sequence. The 0 came against Man City, where Arsenal hardly got a kick unless your name was Granit Xhaka.
Smith Rowe has the pace to trouble Leicester’s defence on the break and he drifts into good areas to pull the trigger, so I’m more than happy to take the 11/8 for a bet that’s already landed in five of eight starts.
It’s worth pointing that Smith Rowe (13) and Bukayo Saka (14) are two of the four players aged 21 or younger in the top-flight to have created more than 10 chances this season. And Smith Rowe has also grabbed two assists in four.
I previewed Arsenal’s cup tie in midweek where I went with Nuno Tavares to hit a couple of shots. He was named on the bench, so hopefully, you swerved that one, but he’s likely to return to the starting XI.
His Premier League record sees him have five shots in 141 minutes of action – an average of a shot every 28 minutes, which isn’t bad for a full-back.
The 21-year-old hit three in his first full league start against Aston Villa, with one of those on target. While he had one during his 13-minute cameo v Burnley and one in his 10-minute appearance against Brentford.
Meanwhile, the two games he did start in the League Cup against West Brom and AFC Wimbledon respectively, saw him have 1 & 4 shots.
The 2+ shots line is still 9/2 on Sky, which could be the way to go given his record since joining the Gunners. If he’s lining up against Ricardo Pereira and Daniel Amartey, then he could find plenty of space to get a couple of shots away.
With that shortening, I’ll leave that out of my staking plan and leave it as a pointer. But I’m not done there. I can see some potential in a cards angle.
That’s Youri Tielemans to be carded at 9/2 with Bet365 and Unibet. The dynamic Belgian was cautioned in both games against the Gunners last season, so has walked the disciplinary tightrope in this fixture.
He’s picked up one yellow card in the league this season from seven fouls – that’s the joint-most fouls within the Leicester squad. While he ranks second for tackles won, proving he does like to get stuck in.
Michael Oliver is the ref. He’s dished out 52 yellows and two reds in 14 games in all competitions. Last season, he took charge of three Leicester Premier League games, booking Tielemans twice – at Man City and Brighton.
Central midfielders have found themselves in a bit of trouble against Arsenal lately. Villa pair John McGinn and Douglas Luiz were both booked the other Friday night.
They followed Palace’s James McArthur, Tottenham’s Oliver Skipp and Burnley’s Ashley Westwood as CMs who have found their way into the ref’s notebook v the Gunners.
So, with players in his position ranking highly to be booked, along with him recording the joint-most fouls for Leicester, as well as the second-most tackles, then his combative nature makes the 9/2 angle look a tempter.