In most fox hunts the quarry escapes, but on the occasions that turn out less well for the fox it’s usually because it has been run to exhaustion by the chasing pack of hounds.
And that approach may be key to us taking all three points from an in-form Leicester City in the lunchtime kick-off today.
We have a young team with lots of energy and plenty of miles in their legs. If we’re prepared to work hard in all 11 positions today and run until our feet bleed then we have a very good chance of coming out on top.
We showed this level of commitment against Aston Villa and (with a second string line-up) against Leeds where, even at 2-0 up, we continued to press the opposition in their own half late in the game.
Both teams have grounds for optimism: Leicester are coming into this game off the back of three straight wins. We’re hoping to extend an unbeaten run of eight games in the EPL and Carabao Cup.
Most recent games between the two sides have produced results, usually with plenty of goals. Draws are a rarity.
We know that Leicester have hurt us in the past, particularly through Jamie Vardy who has a good record of scoring against us (often when Leicester hit us on the break).
I have faith in our first choice defensive line-up and in Mikel Arteta’s coaching to be hyper aware of that danger today, although I suspect we will need more than one goal if we’re going to grab all three points.
There were no real injury updates from the club yesterday apart from the manager saying that Tierney was still a doubt. We can only hope that Ben White has recovered from the illness that saw him leave the field early against Leeds. His awareness and speed will be important in countering Vardy.
Formation wise the main conundrum is who should partner Partey in central midfield. Arteta may opt for Odegaard again so that he can find room for both Ode and ESR but, as was highlighted in comments yesterday, this has not been a successful approach so far and Ode seems to work better when playing in a more advanced position. It’s a toss up today whether he gets the nod ahead of Lacazette (I can’t see ESR being dropped as he’s the best player in our team right now).
Lokonga has generally impressed when given a chance and Maitland-Niles had a very good game against Leeds earlier in the week, so El Patron has options, even with Xhaka on the long term injury list.
Unless there are any injuries we don’t know about (and working on the basis that Tierney is unlikely to be available) here’s my predicted line-up:
Tomayisu – White – Gabriel – Tavares
Lokonga – Partey
Saka – Lacazette – Smith Rowe
Whenever I see images of a fox hunt my sympathies are with the hunted animal, but not today.
Tally Ho Arsenal: let’s get another win under our belt.