Arsenal v Leicester: Gunners face battle to keep mini-revival going

As the season marches on into its final few weeks, the pressure on teams to get results ramps up another few notches.

While expectations that Arsenal may mount a late bid for the top four are especially low this year, it is crucial the team at least continues the fight until the very last day of the season, however fruitless a task it may seem.

Tonight the Gunners welcome Leicester to the Emirates – a side that is performing in a way that is much more aligned to the calibre of their squad than the exceptional exploits of last season which propelled them to the Premier League title.

After a truly abysmal first half to the season, the Foxes sacked manager Claudio Ranieri and, as if by magic, started to play in a way that resembled the heroics of 2015/16, although they have lacked the consistency and good fortune that saw them go all the way last year.

Having propelled themselves away from danger and into the safety of mid-table, there is nothing but pride left to Leicester to play for this season, but I still expect them to cause problems for the Gunners tonight.

They are once more the hard-working, obstinate group of players they were last season and will undoubtedly want to make an impression when they arrive in North London, even if most would prefer them to simply roll over.

In truth, however, this Arsenal side should be suitably motivated to go out and get a result, particularly given the recent upturn in their own fortunes. They come into the game off the back of two much-needed wins and an especially uplifting result against Manchester City at Wembley.

As hard-fought and tiring as that match was, the Gunners haven’t exactly been overrun with fixtures this season and should have plenty in the tank to go again tonight.

That said, I would expect a little rotation from Arsene Wenger, if only to ensure we don’t pick up any fatigue-related strains or pulls ahead of the weekend’s North London derby.

Perhaps we might se Hector Bellerin come in at wing back, and Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott drafted into midfield and attack.

I don’t think at this stage there is any question that the manager will once again set his side up in the 3-5-2 that has yielded much better results and performances from the team in recent weeks. There were signs of improvement against Manchester City and hints that the players are beginning to adapt to playing what is a demanding system.

If they continue to work hard and pick up results, who knows what the pressure on the teams above us might do. It’s nice to be the team with nothing to lose for a change.

In order to have any hope, however, the Gunners have to keep winning, and that means doing the business against Leicester, who have proven themselves more than capable of picking up results.

As ever, their threat lies in their rigorous defensive discipline and ability to launch swift counter attacks. Their attacking play is notoriously efficient and it will be a real test of this fledgling 3-5-2 against a side with plenty of pace.

I would hope, given how hard the players appear to have worked, that they would be especially keen to keep their mini-revival going, as to let it slip now would be a fresh blow for a squad that remains very fragile mentally.

The fact remains, though, that it is a tremendously talented squad with a number of options available and world class talents to call upon.

To that end, only a win will do.

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