How Arsenal can derail Leicester's title charge

Published Add your comment

Football News

They're five points clear at the top and have just overthrown the previous title favourites Manchester City, but can Leicester City be stopped by their next biggest challengers Arsenal

The Gunners now sit third in the table despite leading the way in January, but one win in their last four league games has left them with some catching-up to do. 

Leicester have only lost twice this season - one of which was against Arsene Wenger's side in September. Here's how they can go about trying to defeat Leicester again to close the gap. 


Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article:


Per Mertesacker has probably been having nightmares for the past week regarding the lightning pace of Leicester's Jamie Vardy 

He shouldn't be the one having the nightmares though, the Arsenal supporters should be the one's having nightmares. 

The reason for this, is because the fans don't know whether Wenger is going to chuck the former Werder Bremen defender in. 

Naturally it seems a pretty obvious solution that you don't play someone with the size and build of the German International against one of the quickest players in world football. 

We all saw how Vardy terrorised poor old Martin Demichelis. Nevertheless, Mertesacker was in the starting line-up against the Foxes' striker at the beginning of the season. 

In fact, Vardy scored twice that day, the first came from the former Fleetwood Town player's enormous speed advantage over his opponent. 

That's why Mertesacker shouldn't be having nightmares, because he shouldn't be playing. 

The World Cup winner has sat out the last three matches after getting sent off for ironically lunging in on Diego Costa because of a lack of pace. 

His deputy has been Gabriel Paulista. Although he hasn't been sparkling and at times has looked rusty, it shouldn't be a "big decision to make" for Arsene Wenger as Jamie Redknapp described for The Daily Mail.

Arsenal have kept two clean sheets in their last two league games in Mertesacker's absence -actually, Wenger's side have only conceded one goal while Gabriel has been in the side. 

Mertesacker has already cost them one crucial match against the Blues, the Gunners can't afford to lose any more ground in the title race if they want to win the league for the first time in 12 years.

Gabriel needs to start and that isn't the only personnel change that needs to be made from the win over Bournemouth. 


Another possible decision by Wenger that the Arsenal fans are worried about, is who is going to play in midfield. 

Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey have been the Frenchman's preferred duo in recent weeks, but that needs to change if they want to get a result against Leicester. 

The reason being is that midfield duo lacks balance. Flamini is frequently out of position and is often reckless.

Shown by the fact he should have seen a red card against Bournemouth, which could have put Arsenal in deep trouble once again and may have resulted in even more points dropped. 

The season in which Aaron Ramsey scored 16 goals for the Gunners, he often played behind the striker. One of the more ideal places to fit Ramsey into your side. However, with Mesut Ozil in dazzling form this season, there isn't any room for him to play that position. 

Usually when Ramsey is played out on the right or in a midfield two, the former Cardiff player struggles. He doesn't have the pace to play out wide, but can do an admirable job defensively. While in the midfield two he has been criticised for slacking on his defensive duties. 

That isn't Ramsey's fault because neither of those two positions suit his style. If you want to get the best out of the 25-year-old, Wenger needs to change his formation or leave out Mesut Ozil, neither of which looks likely. 

Therefore, it makes sense to bring in two more defensively-minded players. Francis Coquelin and Mohammed Elneny. The Arsenal boss has been heavily crticised for not starting these two in recent weeks. 

Arsenal supporters have a point, it makes sense to play Coquelin, but he has only just come back from a lengthy lay-off. The problem Wenger made was he gave the Frenchman 70 minutes in the FA Cup. 

That was probably too much for a player who has just come back from injury and has probably meant he has struggled with fitness in recent weeks. Playing him for 20 to 30 minutes would have been ideal to gradually get him up to speed. 

Now that he came off the bench against Bournemouth however, it looks like he should be ready to start. Just when Arsenal need him, too. He is Wenger's only menacing presence in the midfield and gives the back-four much-needed protection. 

While Coquelin's partner should be January signing Elneny - who has yet to start a league match for Arsenal. He hasn't had much game time of late, but had a reasonable amount of action in the FA Cup. The Egyptian needs to play. 

Neither Ramsey or Flamini have the capabilities to play in a midfield two and with Santi Cazorla out of action, these are the only two sensible replacements. 

People might say it's a big ask for a new signing to start his first match in what could prove to be Arsenal's biggest game of the season, but now is the time to play your best players and he currently is Arsenal's second-best defensive midfielder available. 


Next up, Theo Walcott. It's time for him to start up front again. 

Arsenal were blitzing teams left, right and centre at the start of the season when the England international led the line. Including the 5-2 defeat of Leicester earlier on in the campaign and the 3-0 drubbing of Manchester United - arguably Arsenal's two best performances this season. 

Olivier Giroud has chipped in now and then, but the Gunners need pace. They need to allow their star talents like Ozil and Alexis Sanchez time to play the killer pass. 

Walcott needs a few chances to put the ball in the back of the net, but he's the best option they have up front. Giroud hasn't scored in the last four league games and it's time for him to be dropped. 

Sergio Aguero showed at times how he could get in behind Robert Huth, Walcott will need to use his pace to do the same. 


Not many teams have worked out Leicester's weaknesses this season, possibly because they don't have many. 

However the Gunners, as already mentioned, were one of the two teams to defeat the Foxes this season. 

How did they do it? Well in the previous section I talked about how the pace of Theo Walcott helped, but Wenger's side got the ball wide and got crosses in.

That seems to be a possible weakness. Three of Arsenal's five goals against the league leaders came from balls out wide and Liverpool - the only other team to defeat Claudio Ranieri's men - scored via a cross. 

People will point to the fact that if the Gunners should get crosses in, then shouldn't Giroud start? No is the answer because it's low crosses and cutbacks that seem to cause the problem. 

Giroud is often too static in the box to run to the near post or to step away from central defenders to the edge of the box. 

Walcott showed at the King Power he can do that and it created space for Sanchez behind him to add to his goal tally. 

The only downside to this plan, is that Ranieri - who clearly looks to be manager of the year already - identified that problem and swapped his full backs. 

Richie De Laet and Jeffery Schlupp played that day, while Danny Simpson and unsung hero Christian Fuchs now start.

They have added more stability and allowed the Foxes to collect more clean sheets, but they did play in the defeat at Anfield. 

Danny Simpson was caught out of position for Christian Benteke's goal, so it doesn't look like that problem is completely solved. The centre-backs didn't read the cut back to the Belgian either, so it's something for Wenger to ponder. 

In order to exploit the wide areas, it could be a good idea to play Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain. Arsenal could utilise his pace in order to get more crosses in. If not, Wenger might want more stability and could choose Ramsey.

That won't be the worst plan in the world because, Ramsey started there in the 5-2 victory over the Foxes, and because he cut inside, this allowed overlapping Hector Bellerin to infiltrate the Leicester defence. 

The counter-attack will be the problem for Arsenal, they always seem to be vulnerable to it. Especially if Bellerin is going to bomb forward. Nevertheless, if Coquelin, Elneny and Gabriel all start that could make them less susceptible to Leicester's direct play. 

It's unlikely Wenger will choose all these options, as there are doubts over Coquelin and Elneny's fitness, while he has favoured Mertesacker over Gabriel in the past. 

This is a massive opportunity for Wenger to prove the doubters wrong, not only that he can get the tactics right in an important match, but could be the victory that takes the Gunners to the title. 

Can Arsenal close the gap on Leicester this weekend? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

Theo Walcott
UEFA Champions League
Premier League
Thierry Henry

Article Comments

Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again