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Key matchups to watch for: Leicester City vs Arsenal

Just score 9 again

Leicester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Leicester City have a fantastic opportunity this weekend to open up the gap between themselves and 5th place Arsenal to nine points. Here are some areas the game could be decided.

Vardy vs Aubameyang

While they won’t face off against each other directly, this game will feature two of the four highest scorers of this season and of 2019 as a whole, in Jamie Vardy and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

After an incredible start with 8 goals through his first 8 games, Aubameyang has dropped off and scored just once since the end of September. Vardy, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength with 7 from his last 5 starts.

Despite our great goalscoring record, Vardy’s 10 account for 37% of the team’s goals, the fourth highest in the league. The Gunners have been even more reliant on their front man - he’s accounted for a massive 50% of their goals.

This game could hinge on how well each side fares at getting their big threat involved inside the penalty area. The Foxes could argue a slight edge there; Vardy’s league leading conversion rate (10 goals from just 22 shots) shows that he doesn’t need many chances to make it count.

Set Piece Defending

While Aubameyang has been scoring, no other Gunner has more than two so far, across all competitions. CBs David Luiz and Sokratis have scored as many as Pépé and Lacazette.

While they’ve struggled to create goals from open play, Arsenal have been more effective from set pieces. They’re second in the Premier League with 5 set piece goals, and have relied on them in Europe too, often thanks to the excellent delivery of Pépé.

The good news then is that, despite their relatively small size, Leicester are still yet to concede a set piece goal in the league this season.

This Saturday may prove to be our biggest test in that area so far, but if they are able to handle free kicks and corners, it could go a long way towards maintaining the league’s best defensive record.

Ndidi vs Completion %

As the home side, Leicester will want to play their natural game and control the pace of play. On the other hand, Arsenal’s leaky defence means they can’t afford to sit back and play without the ball.

The fight for control of the ball could dictate which team is able to operate their game plan most effectively. Arsenal might have the higher percentage passers, but the Foxes can win this one in ball recovery.

Wilfred Ndidi has been spectacular in that regard this year, as he is every year. With Ricardo Pereira and others chipping in very effectively, Leicester lead the league in combined tackles and interceptions, despite their high possession.

Their ability to continuously win the ball the back affords the Foxes a lot of freedom to take chances in their build up play, and should help them to outscore the opposition.