Claudio Ranieri’s side only lost three league games last season, and the Gunners were responsible for two of those defeats, including a 5-2 scoreline in this evening’s corresponding fixture.
Injured Arsenal stars like Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck miss out, whilst Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud are still returning to full fitness after Euro 2016. So, who does feature in this combined XI between last season’s champions and runners-up?
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GK – Petr Cech
Petr Cech has a wealth of experience at the highest level and kept more clean sheets last term (16) than any other Premier League goalkeeper. Let’s hope that the veteran has recovered from his car crash incident in the Emirates Stadium car park.
RB – Hector Bellerin
Hector Bellerin was the best right-back in the league last season and was rightly included in the 2015-16 PFA Team of the Year. The 21-year-old Spaniard is quick, energetic, strong in the tackle and an excellent outlet going forward.
CB - Wes Morgan & Laurent Koscielny
Another member of that PFA Team of the Year was the passionate Wes Morgan, who captained the Foxes to the title. The big centre-half is an organiser and he embraces physical battles against opposition strikers.
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Laurent Koscielny will be considered for selection and he may have to take a gamble on his star defender. The 30-year-old has developed into a top-class centre-back during his six-year stay at the Emirates and one of the most formidable in the league.
He played every game for France at Euro 2016 and has the strength, intelligence and defensive awareness that Arsenal desperately lacked against Liverpool.
LB – Christian Fuchs
Nacho Monreal was much-improved last year, however Christian Fuchs possesses genuine technical quality and a wand of a left foot. Having now retired from international football, the Austrian will be hoping for another successful season with Leicester.
CM – Danny Drinkwater & Francis Coquelin
Danny Drinkwater was a mainstay for the champions last year and forged a fantastic partnership alongside the all-action N’Golo Kante.
The English midfielder sits in front of the back four and offers creativity from a deep-lying position, with his excellent long-range passes a feature of the Foxes’ title-winning campaign.
Both clubs have signed new midfielders in Nampalys Mendy and Granit Xhaka, but Francis Coquelin also gets the nod in central midfield and is a player who’s often underappreciated.
The 25-year-old broke into the Arsenal team at a time when they were crying out for someone to protect their defence – and that’s exactly what he does. The Frenchman isn’t flashy on the ball, he keeps it simple, reads the game better than most players his age and loves a tackle.
RM – Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez scored 17 league goals in the last campaign and the PFA Player of the Year opened his account for this season with a coolly converted penalty at Hull.
The skilful winger has been linked with a move to Arsenal during the transfer window but he recently put those rumours to rest when he signed a new four-year contract with Leicester.
Mahrez has the quality to light up matches with his trickery and vision, and much like Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben, the left-footed Algerian excels at cutting inside from the right flank and firing shots on goal.
LM – Alexis Sanchez
Alexis returns to Arsenal this season after starring for Chile as they successfully defended their Copa America title. The talented forward has scored an impressive 29 Premier League goals since joining the Gunners in 2014.
Sanchez has netted four times in his two previous league games at the King Power Stadium and the ex-Barcelona man is one of the few truly world-class players in England’s top flight.
ST – Ahmed Musa & Jamie Vardy
Mesut Ozil would have been a certain inclusion in this XI were he fully fit, but as the German playmaker might not be risked for today’s game, Leicester’s £16 million signing Ahmed Musa gets in the team.
Similar to Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, the versatile Nigerian is exciting, unpredictable, and blessed not only with electric pace but also with a keen eye for goal.
Like Mahrez, Jamie Vardy was also the subject of interest from Arsenal this summer. The 29-year-old striker was clinical last term, registering 24 league goals, and he frightened defenders with his work-rate and blistering speed.
The Englishman scored against Manchester United in the Community Shield and he’ll be looking to get up and running in the new league campaign when he faces Wenger’s side.
How good is this combined XI? Do YOU agree with it? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!
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