Being a Leicester City fan is never dull and Sunday night produced one of the most surreal few hours ever seen at the King Power, with barely 48 hours until the team traveled to the Emirates Stadium in London to face an Arsenal side, knocking on the door in the race to earn a Champions League place.
Putting aside the madness that went on, at the moment Nigel Pearson remains in charge of the Foxes and will no doubt be preparing for one of the most difficult games of the season, on the back of what has so far has been a disappointing season for the club.
Arsenal have been a bogey side for the Foxes, heading back to the days under the God that is Martin O’Neill. Other clubs towards the top of the table have often seen a Leicester City side turn up and scrape the odd result together but playing the Gunners has, for the most been a miserable experience.
After Saturday’s disappointing defeat at home to Crystal Palace, and Sunday’s shenanigans, the time has come for manager Pearson to play his strongest side and keep the tinkering back in the changing room. One of the most obvious reasons for Burnley’s excellent attempt at staying in the Premier League has been the settled side they have put out on a weekly basis.
Injuries aside, it still seems like Leicester do not know their best side, or at least the manager doesn’t. Fans have been left bewildered by the purchase of £9 million Croatian Krameric, only for him to be left on the bench, likewise the excellent form of winger Marc Albrighton, has regularly found after hitting form, to next game, be on the bench.
Something has to change soon else the club will be heading straight back down to the Championship, yet they are still only 4 points away from safety, knowing back to back wins will in all honesty get them out of the bottom three.
How they go about tackling Arsenal and in particular Alexis Sanchez who looks like he will make his return to the side on Tuesday, is anyone’s guess. It will be interesting to see if the players come out fighting for their boss with his job still seemingly on the line.
There is little doubt that new signing Robert Huth will go straight into the starting line-up but who plays alongside him is certainly up for grabs. Skipper Wes Morgan has not been convincing, with Marcin Wasilewski, the more consistent of the two, but could Pearson through a curve ball and pluck summer signing Matt Upson, to go alongside Huth at the back. Whatever happens, Huth at the back could win an extra game or two for the Foxes, hoping that Leicester break the bogey side curse.
The side looked a lot better balanced at the end of the game on Saturday and fans will be dismayed if Albrighton does not start. The former Villa winger and Mahrez looked dangerous in the last 20 minutes and with that creativity and the ability to put in a decent cross, should see Ulloa remain in the side, hopefully alongside Krameric. That will move David Nugent to the bench, which is harsh on the Liverpudlian as he has often been the source of the attacking play this season. His lack of goals do tell a story though and his role as an impact substitute, could be his place in the side for the foreseeable future. That is, if Pearson decides to stick to a settled side.
Who plays in centre midfield is anyone’s guess, but Matty James has looked the most consistent of them all. If Dean Hammond is fit, his early season form arguably warrents his place in the side. Again, the midfield has seen numerous changes, not helping a side searching for some form and consistency.
As for Arsenal, well they will no doubt want to bounce back from their North London derby defeat to a Harry Kane inspired Spurs. Despite this setback, their recent form has been better, thanks to Sanchez in particular. Stopping the Chilean star could be Leicester’s best hope of gaining something from the match.
With Wilshire unlikely to feature still, they will look for Ozil to continue to make a resurgence after a a disappointing start to his Premier League career. The forwards, Welbeck and Giroud, will continue to forge their growing partnership and keeping the roaming Cazorla quiet will also be to Leicester’s benefit.
Prediction – Over the optimist, I will be hoping for a 1-1 draw with Krameric for Leicester and Sanchez for Arsenal.