There is a buzz of excitement among Arsenal supporters who are convinced their team has what it takes to beat high-flying table toppers Leicester City in what promises to be the best of this week’s Super Sunday clashes.
The basis for this optimism is that Arsenal beat Leicester City in the first round 5-2. The Gunners think they could repeat that feat on Sunday. Besides, they have home-ground advantage.
But it is hard for Arsenal fans. They have endured 12 years without sniffing the English Premier League (EPL) title. And during this period, they have changed on-field players, goalkeepers and even the stadium from Highbury to Emirates. But to no avail.
They have tried to change everything but their manager, Arsene Wenger. They are failing to change the only thing that is responsible for their EPL drought. A few weeks ago, they were on top of the table alongside Leicester City. But a couple of draws and a loss to Chelsea left them languishing in fourth position.
After that, everyone sensed the fates were conspiring to slap the Gunners in the face again. A familiar story that starts in glamorous fashion, leading the log table for some months and all pundits predicting it is Arsenal’s year. Then comes a match against Chelsea, they lose. The rest is history. They are now on third position with 48 points.
I expect Leicester City to continue where they left off last week when they beat highly fancied Manchester City 3-1 to stretch their advantage at the top to five points with 53 points. Everyone has now realised the mistake of predicting against Leicester City in any match, regardless of the calibre of opponent. Of course, I expect Arsenal’s high intensity pressing and pace to trouble Leicester a bit. But Arsenal should also expect maximum harassment.
Leicester come into this match without any pressure. They can afford to lose a match and still remain top of the table. Such is their luxury. They have a well-balanced team which plays to its strengths in attacking and defending as a team. They have no noticeable style of play which makes it difficult for teams to prepare against them. But you can rest assured Leicester will hit you with their raw energy, harass you on the ball and their unrelenting passion means the level of competitiveness will be sustained from the first to the last whistle. I expect many goals in this match.
The other exciting match is between Man City and Tottenham on Sunday. This match will finally decide who has what it takes to chase Leicester City in the title hunt. Tottenham have shown more consistency than Arsenal and Man City so far. But the problem is that Mauricio Pochettino’s side comprises young players and it remains to be seen if they can hold their nerves to be in the title chase for longer. I think Tottenham will win this one. n