2 min Cedric turns up close to the Leicester box and tries a cross, but Evans is there to clear. For now at least, Pepe is out on his preferred right flank, with Willian on the left.
1 min For those watching in black and white, Leicester are in blue so Arsenal have changed from their usual red to white.
The players take a knee. All black lives matter; we’ve got a lot of work to do.
Martin Keown is surprised by how many changes Arteta has made. I’m surprised he’s surprised.
There’s a lot riding on Emile Smith Rowe today, whose prompting and pressing look Arsenal’s most likely route to a goal. I read a piece recently in which someone who coached him said he wasn’t one they thought would get to where he now is, which restates the importance of mentality and desire.
Apparently Briggs made 2348 appearances on the cobbles, which makes Ryan Giggs – with a mere 963 – look like a right slacker.
Sad news: Johnny Briggs, the actor who played Mike Baldwin in Corrie and whose feud with Ken captivated the nation to such extent that it’s result was displayed mid-match on the Old Trafford scoreboard, has gone to the big Rovers Return in the sky.
Areteta tells BT he doesn’t even want to look at the league table because of how badly Arsenal are doing. He’s left out players because some have muscular issues, they only arrived in Leicester on Friday night, and he has players who deserve a chance. He notes that Leicester sometimes look to push the pace and other times sit deep to counter, so has prepared for both eventualities. Which is all very well, but it’s hard to see how his midfield can dominate here.
It really is remarkable that Leicester can be without players as good as Maddison, Fofana, Perez, Justin and Praet, but still put out an XI as good as this. They might well be the best-run club in world football.
As on Thursday night, Leicester will have to cope without James Maddison. Can he still give the post-match interview though?
We’ve just seen tape of Brandan telling Robbie Savage that at 48, he’s coming into his prime as a coach – a happy chance! – and notes that development is generally associated with young players, but he’s just as focused on his older players. I really enjoy hearing him talk football and find his refusal to play down his own role in things refreshing, but he could really use a trophy. He says a successful season would be European football –at this point, I’m not so sure about that, given they’ve been in the top four for the duration and botched it a year ago – and is also desperate to win the cup.
BT reckon Leicester will play Iheanacho behind Vardy, which sounds slightly odd; like Vardy, he’s a finisher not a prompter, but you can’t legislate for Brendan’s transformative genius.
Email! “I thought I knew what ‘enervating’ meant, but I looked it up anyway,” confesses Charles Antaki. “Causing [a person] to feel drained of energy, fatigued”. Fair enough metaphorically about Leicester’s home loss to Slavia Prague, but surely a better, literal, description not only of Arsenal’s flight to Athens but of the numbing stodge that they tend to deliver on the field of play?”
One man’s enervation is another man’s innovation, as the old saying goes.
It looks a lot like Mikel Arteta has picked a team to nick something, if possible. Saka is his best player and Aubameyang his most likely scorer, but neither start; though Willian was better when he came on against Benfica, he’s been largely dreadful this season; and Pepe is Pepe.
Arsenal, meanwhile, make six changes. At the back, Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari replace Hecto Bellerin and Gabriel; in midfield, Elneny is in for Dani Ceballos; and in attack, Saka, Martin Odegaard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sit at the side, with Willian, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette replacing them.
I’m fairly surprised to see Leicester line up in 4-4-2, but it makes a lot of sense. Arsenal are strong out wide, so sticking two men on each flank will help combat that, and impetuous at the back, so two strikers might exacerbate that. Having just two in the middle of midfield could allow Arsenal to dominate in that area, but with two limited sitters in Mohamen Elneny and Granit Xhaka, that seems unlikely.
Brendan Rodgers makes four changes following that midweek disappointment: Timothy Casatagne replaces Daniel Amartey at right-back; Ricardo Pererira is in at right-midfield for Cengiz Under; on the left, Harvey Barnes resumes with Marc Albrighton takes a rest; and up front, Kelechi Iheanacho comes in with Hamza Choudhury dropping out of midfield.
Leicester City (a sophisticate’s 4-4-2): Schmeichel; Castagne, Soyuncu, Evans, Thomas; Pereira, Ndidi, Tielemans, Barnes; Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs: Ward, Albrighton, Amartey, Under, Choudhury, Mendy, Fuchs, Daley-Campbell, Tavares.
Arsenal (a circumspect 4-2-3-1): Leno; Soares, Mari, Luiz, Tierney; Elneny, Xhaka; Willian, Smith Rowe, Pepe; Lacazette. Subs: Ryan, Bellerin, Saka, Ceballos, Odegaard, Aubameyang, Holding, Partey, Martinelli.
Song and dance man: Paul Tierney (Wigan)
There’s loads of things to love about this game but foremost among them is the tussle between two classic footballing platitudes: “This game’s all about confidence and momentum, Clive,” versus “It takes half an hour just to run the travel out of your legs, Brian.” It’s the unstoppable cliche meets the immovable truism.
Leicester come into this match on the back of a significant disappointment. They’ll have fancied themselves for a proper hack at this season’s Europa League – rightly so – and after drawing 0-0 away to Slavia Prague looked in good shape to make that happen. But they then contrived a 0-2 home defeat that will have felt extremely enervating, reminding them of the mess they made of last season’s run-in; as such, they come into this match under pressure.
Arsenal, on the other hand, arrive at the KP on a right buzz. Just when it looked like they’d arsenaled up their Europa tie against Benfica, the inspirational Bukayo Saka inspired them to victory – again – defibrillating their season in the process. But for this, they had to hike to Athens, leaving scope for a significant physical and emotional dump before we even consider the earliness of the start – on top of which Leicester need the points far more than they do.
Given all that, it’s hard to predict what might happen here. Leicester will look to start quickly – but their counter-attacking preference means they’re reliant on their opponents to commit – while Arsenal will probably rest players – but retain their own threat on the break.
Ultimately, a home win looks the most likely outcome, but the longer Arsenal can keep the game goalless the more Leicester will start to wonder.
Kick-off: 12pm GMT