Leicester Pre-Match: Can We Keep the Run Going?

Pepe                                                             Pepe to start tonight?

We tamed the Wolves, now it’s time for the Foxes.

The fox is a smaller animal, of course, but it’s fast, sneaky and an expert at theft.

When I was living in South West London over a decade ago we kept a few chickens in our reasonably large back garden.

They lived in a pretty little wooden chicken house, which I fortified against urban foxes to the best of my ability: wire mesh on the grass all around to stop them digging under; stone slabs under the hutch itself; security lighting.

Add in a couple of control towers and machine guns and the entire scene might have come from The Great Escape.

The foxes got in and killed the chickens.

How do we stop them pulling a similar smash-grab-and-throttle tonight at The Emirates?

We’re on a roll with four wins on the trot and confidence is visibly building. We have just signed two of our most exciting young prospects to new deals and there is even a (very) outside chance of Champions League football next year.

But Leicester are a dangerous side, with Jamie Vardy as the epitome of Fantastic Mister Fox (he’s leading the race for the Golden Boot, with 21 goals so far, two ahead of Aubameyang).

They are third in the league table which, when you look at the two teams above them, is a hell of an achievement: it means that after Liverpool and Manchester City, they are currently the ‘best of the rest.’

However, there are factors in our favour apart from our recent run of decent form. Since the lockdown ended Leicester have struggled to recapture their pre-pandemic consistency. In the four league games they’ve played since the restart they have managed: D, D, L, W.

And across the season they have been stronger at home than away.

If our new defensive set-up (now definitively to be known as ‘The Horseshoe’) can nullify Vardy there’s no reason why we can’t come away with the points. We certainly have players who can score if they get the chance, and we will get chances.

The main question for El Patron is whether he needs to rest some of Saturday’s starters, even though we have a five-day gap after tonight before our visit to the Armitage Shanks Arena in N17.

Here’s my stab at the line-up:


Bellerin – Mustafi – Luiz – Kolasinac – Tierney

Xhaka – Ceballos

Pepe – Nketieh – Aubameyang

I’ve gone with Bellerin because Soares didn’t entirely convince against Wolves and is coming back from injury.

And I think new dad Pepe will get the nod ahead of Saka.

And if I have to tip someone to be our hero on the night, it’s going to be Pepe.

Come on you Reds!



51 Responses to Leicester Pre-Match: Can We Keep the Run Going?

  1. RA says:

    Excellent pre-match, Rocky,

    I loved your chicken, fox and horse shoe analogy.

    It made me recount my own chicken and fox story, which I thoroughly enjoyed writing in response, as it too had a beginning, middle and punchy ending.

    I read it back, and immediately erased it, as unlike your pre-match gem, it had nothing to do with Arsenal, or even those foxy fellows who are hoping to sneak down and knick the points off us.

    So foxes today, and chickens next week end. Say no more!! 🥺

    As we have gently floated down from the top-ish part of the league in recent years, rather like a dead leaf in the Autumn, Leics have moved in the opposite direction, winning the League, and finishing handily thereafter, and to be fair, as you said, if they finish third this season that would be a mighty achievement for them.

  2. RC78 says:

    Rocky – you are a talented pre-match writer! What a joy it was to read your piece and sorry to hear about your chickens…

    We will play 343 for sure and I agree with you that we could get a result but I think Arteta will play a physically robust team tomorrow so expect to see:

    Martinez – Musti, Luiz, Kola – AMN, Ceba, Xhaka, Tierney – Saka, Nketiah, Auba

    I think AMN will get the nod ahead of both Soares and Bellerin because he had a very good outing against Wolves, nullifying Traore. If he does not play, then I think Soares will be played.

    Saka to start ahead of Pepe at RW so that we can use Pepe in the second half together with Laca and Willock.

    I agree with you that Pepe can deliver the victory and be our heroe and I think it will be a game with goals so I am hoping for a 3-2 victory for us with 2 goals from Auba and 1 goal from Pepe and for Leicester no goals from Vardy 🙂

  3. RockyLives says:

    Your leaf analogy is poetic, if a bit sad (remember when we were the vibrant, thrusting young buds of Spring?).

    You may be right about AMN – he was very good when he came on against Wolves.
    Ditto your call that it might be Saka over Pepe. However, Saka did not have a great game despite his goal (partly due to him and Soares taking time to get on the same wavelength).

    I might be mis-remembering but I have it in my head that Belli and Pepe were starting to form a decent pairing down our right flank which is why I think that’s the way Mikel will go. We shall see.

  4. LB says:

    Great read, thanks

    That should be the team up there, the only change that I can see Arteta changing from above is Lacazette for Nketiah.

  5. Las says:

    ‘The invention of the horseshoe’ I just love it.
    I am with you Rocky, Leicester is a tricky encounter and our interest on Rogers before Arteta makes it particularly spicy. Of course I would like to see us win again but what really would make me happy is another disciplined performance. No selfdestruction, no brainfarting. Leicester is a good team, if they can find a goal by Vardy it would not come as a surprise. But never forget We Are Arsenal, we come out fighting.
    Cross the fingers though.

  6. Sue says:

    Wolves… foxes… whatever next?! Oh that’s right, a good old chicken dinner on Sunday 😉😄

    Nice one, Rocky.. I’m a little nervous, but then that’s nothing new! I like the look of your line up. Although I’d like to see Laca start instead of Eddie – makes me think back to his debut goal, that was against Leicester….you know he loves a goal at home! COYG

  7. RA says:


    I have used the leaf comparison more than once, usually at a time of personal melancholy, but I guess it could have gone something like;

    The football seasons have sadly run away from all of us since we first became AA bloggers, and they feel like a cold flurry of wind blown autumn leaves scurrying off fitfully before the first grip of winter shows its fangs, and reminds us that the Springs of Wenger’s achievements have long gone. We can only hunker down and wait patiently for the first green shoots of the new Spring of Mikel Arteta show their timid tips, with the promise of new bountiful summers yet to come.

    That incorporates melancholy with your positive hope for the future. 😜

  8. RC78 says:

    Conte is building a really promising team at Inter with Hakimi and now Tonali…He also has Bastoni, Sensi, Lautaro and Barella for the future so if they qualify for the CL, I think they will be real contenders in the next few years.

    rumour has it that if Lautaro leaves for Barcelona, then he ll make a move for Laca…

    Conte is a good coach – glad he left Chelsea

  9. Aaron says:

    Another fine read Rocky, thank you for your continued efforts always on short notice- how do you people keep on coming up with interesting reads?

    Hope you found a way to keep the foxes at bay.

    Side note, during this entire covid madness, anyone know if GN5 is doing ok?

    Like LB said, Arteta will rotate Laca today. Pepe in the squad for sure, and maybe AMN behind him.

    RC, Conte for sure is a good coach and glad to have seen the back of him, Juve will have another challenger for sure.

    Oh, and the game played yesterday, damn I despise moaninho, it was a turgid affair, can’t wait for that game too.

    Let’s get the first goal and and and squeeze the futbol life from them.

  10. RA says:


    I have not heard anything from GN5 since he left, and that’s a pity.

    He wrote some brilliant historical Posts about Arsenal, and I wish he would come back, as he is missed.

  11. RockyLives says:

    Lovely comment about the seasons.

    I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky to have had so many glorious summers.

    For some clubs it’s permanent winter.

  12. RockyLives says:

    Watching a bit of Palace v Chavs.

    Cracking long range shot from Zaha to pull it back to 1-2

  13. Sue says:

    Woohoo Wilf!! Don’t like Chelsea’s kit…. eww!

  14. RC78 says:

    The teams are out…

    Martinez – Musti, Luiz, Kola – Bellerin, Ceba, Xhaka, Tierney – Saka, Laca, Auba

    Bench: Macey, Sokratis, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Pepe, Nelson, Willock, Nketiah

    Still no news from Guendouzi and Ozil in the squad.

  15. RockyLives says:

    Hmmm – 9/11

    I’m slipping.

  16. LB says:

    So I think we just got a big clue as to how Arteta choses his teams: you score, you start the next game, not ground breaking but a clear incentive.

  17. LB says:

    Actually it is probably more simple than that, I mean, you can’t score and then get dropped………

  18. RockyLives says:

    Good test of our progress tonight.

  19. Rasp says:

    With 5 potential subs, the starting line up is only part of a 90 minute plan. I think the 5 subs makes the games more interesting and separates the good managers from the not so good.

  20. RA says:

    Not sure about your horse shoe theory tonight, Rocky, it looks more like “the crab’s claw”.

  21. RA says:

    A brilliant 35 yard attempt by Tierney, and an even more betterer brilianter goal from Auba via Saka.

  22. RC78 says:

    Ceba with a great pick-up, Saka with a cool dribble and pass and Auba with a simple finish. Goal 20 for Auba and we re leading at home!

  23. RC78 says:

    There is a goal for Laca in this game for sure

  24. Are we all too nervous to celebrate a goal?

    Come on Arsenal 😁

  25. Rasp says:

    No weak links in the team makes a big difference …

  26. Rasp says:

    We’re getting a little too cavalier … time to calm the game down and take control I think. Leicester are very good on the break.

  27. RockyLives says:

    Well said Rasp – time for some Horseshoe!

  28. Rasp says:

    😂 we want to be well shod, not shoddy Rocky

  29. Rasp says:

    All of a sudden we seem to be pulling off some amazing defence splitting passes … that shows the growing confidence … we wouldn’t have attempted those passes in the latter part of Emery’s reign

  30. RockyLives says:

    As long as we don’t start hoofing it…

  31. I have to say, I’m loving Ceballos

  32. Aaron says:

    Solid 1st half, minus one moment, could me more up.

    Keep them going Mikel, one more would be appreciated.

    Will be interesting to see the substitutes come on later.
    Passing on both side on the wings has been better, and would like to see someone on the end of a Tierney cross too.

    Let’s go!

  33. Twitter reckons Jamie Vardy knew what he was doing with the boot to Mustafi’s face 😡

  34. RA says:

    You speak from the horses mouth Rocky. 🤪

  35. RC78 says:

    Ceba is having a very good game together with Tierney.

    I think there is room for a Lacagoal today and I am quite sure Pepe will also pounce if given the chance to play. Bellerin was good going forward but he needs to be a bit better defensively and I thought Kolasinac had a very good half too.

  36. RockyLives says:

    Lots to be pleased with but I’d be feeling better if we’d scored one of those other chances.

  37. Las says:

    Patiency, discipline, perseverance, that’s what we need. And one more goal to score

  38. RA says:

    I think the horse has bolted, Rocky, and taken his shoe with him.

  39. RockyLives says:

    Strong and stable Redders, strong and stable…

  40. RA says:

    Well plenty of pats all round, Rocky.

  41. Well that’s pretty pants ☹️

  42. Aaron says:

    Man o man….
    Darn it!

    Come on Gunners!

  43. RA says:

    Another VAR farce.

  44. RA says:

    I hope that was not a foul too VAR.

  45. Aaron says:

    The ball moved down he touched it.
    vaR is crap!

  46. Aaron says:

    Wanted the 3, will feel hard done by 1.

    A game to be had, but at least the team played hard for the last 25 minutes, but again at what cost for the weekend game. No Eddie and some gassed players.

    But- saw the game out and took the point, match intelligence gained.

  47. LB says:

    Very much another var face, focusing on one angle to decide whether something is a red card or not is outrageous. The angle that was repeatedly shown was the one from behind the defender, the side angle shows clearly that Nketiah was pulling out to the point where there was hardly any contact at all.

  48. Las says:

    I knew if there were a chance to help Leicester at the expense of Arsenal VAR will. And the red card was also harsh.
    But damn, we played well, the performance was there. We had the chances to go two up…
    Cheer up! We have Sp..s at the weekend to turn things around.

    C’mon Arsenal

  49. RockyLives says:

    Well, that was unlucky – especially as we lose Eddie for Spuds, ‘Pool and Man City…

    We should have taken one of those first half chances.

    But… we played another game with intent and purpose, the players all seemed to know what they were doing. In others words, a million miles away from how we were playing under Emery towards the end.

    I think we had the lucky horseshoe upside down tonight…

  50. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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