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Match Preview: Arsenal vs Leicester

The Foxes Friday face off against the Gunners to open the season

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal ( 0-0-0) vs Leicester (0-0-0)

Friday 2:45 PM ET

The Emirates

Here it is, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It’s only been a few months, but the Premier League is finally getting underway and for the first time in it’s 129 year history an English top-flight season will begin on a Friday.

How to watch

NBCSN will be airing this match starting at 2:45 ET / 11:45 PT and expect them to have tons of build up to the season opener before hand.

The Competition

Arsenal have had a very productive preseason, winning three trophies and making some strong squad additions in forward Alexander Lacazette from Lyon and left-back Sead Kolasinac.

Chelsea v Arsenal - The FA Community Shield
Sead Kolasinac against Chelsea in the Community Shield
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Although there has been much speculation about Alexis Sanchez, Leicester won’t have to worry about facing the pacy winger as he has been ruled out for the match by Arsene Wenger. Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey will most likely be game time decisions, along with Per Mertesacker who was subbed off in their Community Shield win against Chelsea. Laurent Koscielny will miss due to a suspension from last season and Shkodran Mustafa also doubtful.

The Foxes

Craig Shakespeare gave a squad fitness update Thursday and it varied in both good and bad news. The bad news was that both Danny Drinkwater and Vicente Iborra will miss out on Friday. Danny’s injury is to his thigh, while Vicente’s is a groin strain. The good is that Kelechi Iheanacho has recovered from his toe injury and will be available. Robert Huth, Papy Mendy, and Islam Slimani have all returned to training, which is a great step towards have a fully fit and fighting squad. Shakespeare mentioned that Slimani could be involved Friday, so expect him to at least be on the bench.

The Lineups

Here are the predicted starting 11’s for each side.

Arsenal’s Predicted Starting 11
Leicester’s Predicted Starting 11

The selected official for this match is Mike Dean.

The History

Leicester’s history against Arsenal is anything but favorable. They are currently on a 21 game winless rut against the Gunners, having only won once in their first ever Premier League meeting in 1994 2-1. Arsenal have also won their last 10 home league matches against Leicester.

The one shining hope for the Foxes is that Arsenal don’t have much fortune from opening day fixtures. They’ve lost three of their last four and only won one of their last seven. They also have more opening day red cards, six, than any other side.

Leicester’s last opening day win was against Sunderland, 4-2, in the 15/16 title winning season. So no pressure should we claim three points on the day.

Prediction

I think Jamie Vardy settles the nerves and makes it 1-1 just before halftime. A well contested second half leads to the super sub, Kelechi Iheanacho, coming off the bench to tap in a Mahrez cross for the winner.