The Premier League’s top two from last season face off against one another this weekend, and it promises to be a tasty affair. Why? We’ll tell you why!
1. Jamie Vardy snubbed a potential move to Arsenal this summer
It was quite a year for Vardy. The 29-year-old goal goblin who has played his way right up the football ladder scored 24 goals last season as Leicester City won an improbable Premier League title.
But Claudio Ranieri knew what was coming next. As summer rolled around, the vultures began to circle, with Arsenal making a bid of Â£22 million.
As time wore on though, Vardy decided he was happy at home, and eventually he committed to Leicester in the form of a new deal.
The atmosphere is sure to be a tense one then, as Arsene Wenger and Arsenal come face to face with the man they hoped would spearhead their own title drive. (Awkward!)
Been a pretty horrendous week for Arsenal as it is, before they have to play Leicester at the weekend. Mahrez/Vardy winner? Doable.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) August 17, 2016
2. Both sides lost their opening fixture
Leicester and Arsenal finishing in the Premier League’s top two seemed as likely as Donald Trump making a beeline for the White House at the start of the 2015/16 season, but in both cases, that’s exactly what happened.
After opening day defeats, with Arsenal losing 4-3 at home to Liverpool and Leicester finding themselves on the wrong end of a surprise Hull defeat, the pair are already languishing in the bottom half of the league.
With Arsenal’s defence torn to shreds by Liverpool, and the Foxes’ title defence getting off to a terrible start, the pressure is on both teams to get their season started at the King Power.
3. Leicester’s title win embarrassed Arsenal no end
When Leicester ran away with the Premier League title, Arsenal were just one of many teams embarrassed by this most unlikely of victories.
But it was the Gunners who were left with the reddest cheeks, having failed to capitalise on a fine chance to regain the crown of English football.
Arsenal kept themselves in touch until February, but were unable to stand the heat, wilting in the spring-time sun as they failed to add a first league title since the dawn of Facebook.
4. But Arsenal utterly dominate the head-to-head
Despite the overall result, Arsenal were the only team to beat Leicester twice over their title-winning season. With a 5-2 win at the King Power and a 2-1 victory at the Emirates, Arsenal laid out the blueprint for beating the Foxes, but no one followed suit.
In fact, Leicester’s record against Arsenal is pretty much as bad as it could be. The Foxes have failed to beat Arsenal in 19 league fixtures, a run stretching back to 1994 when Disney’s The Lion King was released.
Surely then, Leicester are due a win to overturn this abysmal record. It’s the circle of life, after all.
5. Riyad Mahrez also decided Arsenal wasn’t for him
âIâm happy to continue my adventure with #lcfc."@Mahrez22 discusses his new four-year deal https://t.co/lbDd34Hv2e pic.twitter.com/z9YDTyaRw1
— Leicester City (@LCFC) August 18, 2016
With Arsenal fans having overcome Vardy’s rejection of the north London club, the rumour mill spun into action once more, with Algeria-international Mahrez rumoured to be joining for a fee in the region of Â£30 million.
So after a summer of speculation it will come as an unwelcome surprise for the Gunners when they find Mahrez in blue rather than red on Saturday.
The wait for a marquee signing goes on…
6. This game virtually guarantees goals
When it comes to sticking the ball in the onion bag, Arsenal and Leicester certainly seem to have a nose for it.
Over the last 10 fixtures between the sides, 35 goals have been notched, with neither side managing a clean sheet in the last seven games.
Alexis Sanchez notched a hat-trick in this fixture last season, while Vardy bagged a brace – fingers crossed that the terrible defensive records continue!
7. Return of the defensive titans
Will @koscielny_official6 return to the side this weekend? #Arsenal #Koscielny #LCFCvAFC #COYG
A photo posted by Arsenal Official (@arsenal) on
Goals are fun, there’s no question about that. But the humble clean sheet can be equally entertaining!
Leicester lost strong man and professional elbow flailer Robert Huth in last season’s title run-in after a hair-pulling incident with Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, and consequently the Foxes haven’t kept a clean sheet since.
Meanwhile Arsenal’s usually reliable defence conceded four against Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, which could prompt Wenger to haul Laurent Koscielny from his sun lounger and thrust him into the starting eleven.
The return of these two leaders will add quality at the back, and not a little competition for messrs Sanchez and Vardy.
Let battle commence!