Leicester vs Arsenal | Sunday 28th February 2021, 12:00 | BT Sport
One of these teams scrapped through to the Europa League Last 16, while the other got knocked out.
Arsenal managed to get past Benfica, over the two legs at neutral venues, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the double to save their defensive blushes.
Leicester were found wanting by an underrated Slavia Prague. And over the two legs, the Foxes were toothless. In Thursday’s second leg, they recorded an expected goals figure of 0.63. They seemed lost without the creativity and spark of James Maddison – he’s a doubt for this one following the recurrence of his hip injury – while the decision to rest Harvey Barnes backfired.
Mixed post-Europe results
On the back of European outings, these two sides have had different fortunes so far this season.
Leicester have won six of their seven league games immediately after their Europa League matches (L1). But the same can’t be said of Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s men have struggled on their return to domestic action, having lost six of their seven top-flight games (W1).
And it’s that hangover that leaves lingering doubts about the Gunners’. Their defending left a lot to be desired and they’ll be tested here. While on the same terms, Leicester were very underwhelming against Slavia, and look likely to be without Maddison once again.
The betting angles
I’m going to go straight in with an old trusted friend of mine. Both Teams To Score and Both Teams Over 0 Cards using the Bet365 Bet Builder feature is 6/4. That’s appealing enough with two sides that I have question marks about defensively.
And that’s something Jamie Vardy could exploit. He’s netted 11 in 12 v Arsenal – only Wayne Rooney has scored more against the Gunners in the Premier League.
For the cards, we’ve got Paul Tierney in the middle. No referee has shown more yellow cards than him this season – 59 at 3.7 per game. And when these sides met at the Emirates earlier, there were eight cautions.
A few right-backs have been booked up against this Leicester side, with the tricky dribbling of Harvey Barnes causing them problems. That brings Héctor Bellerín (15/4 Bet Victor) into play, so he’d be on my list for a card.
But the player that might be worth taking at a bigger price is Ricardo Pereira. He’s only recently returned from injury and could have his hands full up against Kieran Tierney.
The right-back has committed six fouls in 414 minutes of playing time – one every 69 minutes. He started in games against Liverpool and Wolves, committing two fouls. Plus, he made the same amount in 54 minutes against Wolves from off the bench. So with a card-happy official in charge, he looks a good price.
Consider last week when we saw João Cancelo carded against the Gunners, and we know Pereira loves to get forward, so could be caught out here.
The case would be strengthened if Bukayo Saka starts on the left side as well. He’s been fouled 50 times this season, putting him seventh on the list. But that could depend if Arteta prefers to start with Nicolas Pépé or Emile Smith Rowe.
However, the Portuguese defender could start in a more advanced position, like he did last weekend. That could mean it’s worth looking at him to have a shot on target. It’s 31/20 with Pokerstars – he hit two shots on target in that one against Villa.
It’s a game where the involvement of Maddison could be crucial to Leicester’s hopes of picking up three points. So, I’ll swerve the outright markets for these two plays.