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Preview: Arsenal v Leicester, trio passed fit, Ozil to start + prediction

By on August 11, 2017

Arsenal kick off the new Premier League campaign when we entertain Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium this evening.

Pre-season has been overshadowed by speculation surrounding the future’s of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as all three are yet to sign new deals.

However, Arsene Wenger was quick to end doubts around his future at the club by signing a new two-year extension shortly after the FA Cup final so at least we won’t have to put up with that circus again this season.

The boss acted quickly to sign Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette but we’ve since been frustrated in our pursuit of other targets so I think we’re heading in to the new campaign without a squad capable of competing for major honours.

Obviously there is still time left for Wenger to bring in more new recruits but as it stands, it looks like it’s going to be another year of battling for the top four.

Team News

A lack of signings isn’t helped by a lengthy absentee list as Sanchez is the latest to be ruled out after picking up an abdominal strain last weekend so he’s out for at least two weeks.

Gabriel is still nursing his knee injury while Santi Cazorla is out for the foreseeable future with an on-going Achilles problem and Jack Wilshere is still working his way back to fill fitness from his fractured leg.

Laurent Koscielny is suspended as he’s still serving his ban carried over from last season, Shkodran Mustafi is lacking match practice due to his late arrival to pre-season training but Per Mertesacker looks to be winning his battle to overcome a nasty cut above his eye.

Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil also trained yesterday after missing the Community Shield through injury so they’ll be in the squad but it remains to be seen whether they are considered fit enough to start.

Francis Coquelin looks to be back in contention after recovering from an ankle injury while Kolasinac and Lacazette are primed to make their debuts in the Premier League following their moves this summer.

Leicester will be without Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater and Vicente Iborra but Kelechi Iheanacho and Harry Maguire are available to make their debuts.

Preferred line-up

Mustafi hasn’t played in pre-season so I don’t think he’s in any condition to start meaning Mertesacker should join Holding and Monreal in defence.

I’d go with Ramsey alongside Xhaka while Kolasinac should start on the left as he was excellent when he came on last weekend. With Bellerin on the right it means The Ox will have to make do with a place on the bench.

In attack, I’d go with Walcott alongside Ozil with Lacazette through the middle.

Prediction

Our record on the opening weekend of the new season is pitiful as we’ve won just one of our last seven games and the squad is hardly in idle shape right now, so it’s difficult to be too optimistic. The good news is we’ve got a superb record against Leicester having not lost in our last 21 league games and we’ve actually looked pretty good overall in pre-season. Therefore, I’m backing the boys to edge it tonight, but it won’t be easy. It never is. Arsenal 2-1 Leicester

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