Leicester City begin a tough trio of season-ending Premier League soccer fixtures when they host Arsenal at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (7am ET).
On paper, at least, Leicester are still very much in the hunt to finish seventh and possibly claim a place in next season’s Europa League. They are one of four teams separated by just three points between seventh and 10th in the table.
The Foxes do, though, currently find themselves at the back of that grouping, and the difficulty of their final few matches is likely to prevent them emerging atop the pack when all is said and done on the final weekend. After Arsenal’s visit on Sunday, they travel to champions elect Manchester City and then host Chelsea, another top-six side.
Leicester have pulled off some good results against opposition of that strength this season. They have defeated City at home and Chelsea away, and also secured a 1-1 draw away to Liverpool. Those results have been mixed in with six defeats, and this is the first such test for Brendan Rodgers, who took charge in March following the dismissal of Claude Puel.
Puel was sacked following a seven-match winless streak that culminated in a 1-4 defeat at home to Crystal Palace. Rodgers, the ex-Liverpool coach, was the first choice of the Leicester board, and he left his position at Celtic in mid-season to take over a young and talented squad with the potential to develop into a highly competent team if guided well.
Results so far have been pretty good. Leicester twice came back from behind to grab a 2-2 draw away to West Ham last weekend, leaving Rodgers with a record of four wins, one draw and two defeats in his seven matches in charge. While he has certainly benefited from a kind schedule, improving underlying numbers seem to bode well for next season.
Every fixture against top-six opposition is demanding, but a home match against Arsenal gives you a better chance than any other of securing a positive result. The Gunners have picked up just 1.29 points per match on their travels this season, only the eighth-best record in the Premier League and 0.32 per match less than any of the other top-six sides.
The latest of their seven away defeats this season came at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday. Arsenal were dead and buried by the interval following a dreadful first half in which their hosts scored three times in a 20-minute spell to all but end the contest. Sokratis Papastathopoulos provided Arsenal’s only reply 10 minutes from time.
It was a worrying result for Unai Emery and his side, not least because it came on the back of a 2-3 home defeat to Crystal Palace. After a period in which they seemed to find some semblance of defensive solidity, conceding just four times in an eight-match spell between early February and the middle of this month, old problems have resurfaced.
Now that everything has shaken out and all of the league’s teams have again played the same number of matches, that pair of defeats has left Arsenal outside of the top four, one point shy of Chelsea in fourth. Their fate is now out of their own hands. With Tottenham Hotspur probably now safe in third, Arsenal need Chelsea to drop points if they are to secure Champions League football for next season through their league finish.
That could still happen. None of the four contenders for the last two top-four places have maintained unblemished records through recent fixtures. Chelsea have dropped points in three of their last six and take on sixth-placed Manchester United this weekend. Defeat at Leicester, perhaps even a draw, would certainly make things very difficult for Arsenal.
Our Preview’s Leicester City vs Arsenal Predictions & Picks Verdict
Leicester were victorious in last season’s equivalent fixture and even though they have a relatively poor home record this season (only the 13th best in the league), they have still taken more points per match at the King Power Stadium than Arsenal have on their travels.
Rodgers’ side have a solid chance of underlining their promise by taking a top-six scalp on Sunday. If you plan a bet with any of the top offshore American sportsbooks, then here are our Leicester vs Arsenal predictions against the betting lines: