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Leicester, Atletico vying for UCL semis

Five Aside
 By Ben Jacobs

Leicester poised for result vs. Arsenal

Aside from a solitary FA Cup penalty shootout triumph in 2000, Leicester hasn't beaten Arsenal since Arsene Wenger took charge. That tells you what a dreadful record the Foxes have against the Gunners.

You need to go back to November 1994 for Leicester's latest league win -- a 2-1 victory at Filbert Street, masterminded by clumsy yet oddly prolific striker Ian Ormondroyd (who had the same sort of demeanor as Gareth Keenan from The Office).

Leicester has been thrashed on a number of occasions -- 5-0 in 1998-99, 6-1 in 2000-01 and 4-0 in 2001-02. However, all three routs came away from home. Matches in Leicester are usually a bit closer.

One of the finest Premier League matchups came in August 1997 -- a dramatic 3-3 draw with four goals inside the final six minutes.

The game is best remembered for Dennis Bergkamp's delightful hat trick, with his sublime final strike seemingly handing Arsenal victory. However, Steve Walsh equalised with a bullet header six minutes into injury time. Despite not claiming all three points, it remains my favourite Leicester game in the Premier League.

City will gladly take another point on Sunday, and if the spirited home display against Everton (who Arsenal also drew 2-2 with the past weekend) is anything to go by, they stand a decent chance, especially if the visitors once again field no recognised striker.

With Olivier Giroud injured, Alexis Sanchez might once again lead the line, and though he scored a vital and confidence-boosting goal against Besiktas in the Champions League midweek, Leicester can take heart from the way Everton muscled him out of the match at Goodison Park.

Usually when you come up against one of the Premier League big boys, you are especially wary of their lead hit man. Managers try to shut out the Robin van Persies, Sergio Agueros or Diego Costas of this world. Arsenal are different and have been since Van Persie left for Manchester United in 2012.

Leicester City will look to shake off their midweek Capital One Cup defeat when they face Arsenal.
Leicester City will look to shake off their midweek Capital One Cup defeat when they face Arsenal.

The Gunners' obvious strength is their midfield, so there's immediate pressure on new Leicester signing Esteban Cambiasso. The 2010 Champions League winner, who joins on a free transfer from Inter Milan, will sit in front of the back four and try to stifle the likes of Sanchez, Santi Carzola and Aaron Ramsey, assuming he gets his international clearance. The problem is that this trio might have too much pace for the 34-year-old, especially on one of the Premier League's bigger pitches. Matty James' shin injury also doesn't aid Leicester's prospects.

- Jacobs: Gritty Cambiasso should fit right in

Granted, City can take positives from they way they dealt with Chelsea's front line, but Arsenal's plethora of 'false number nines' have more pace and versatility -- two aspects Leicester's defense didn't encounter as often in the Championship the past season.

The upside, however, is Arsenal don't really have a defensive midfielder in their ranks -- someone in the Patrick Vieira or Ray Parlour mode. Given how dangerous Leicester looked on the counter-attack at Stamford Bridge the past weekend, the Gunners lack of ball-winners could prove their undoing.

One thing is for sure, though, the Foxes will need oodles more intensity than they showed in the tame 1-0 League Cup loss to Shrewsbury Town. Thankfully, not too many players who featured in that defeat will be part of the starting lineup. Plus, if you can't get geared up for a visit from Arsenal, you shouldn't be playing professional football.

Once again, Leicester has nothing to lose, but unlike to trip to Chelsea, I sense manager Nigel Pearson will be quietly confident of taking a point. After all, Arsenal is yet to keep a Premier League clean sheet and Leonardo Ulloa and Dave Nugent have had enough chances in the opening two games to suggest they can breach the slightly defensively shaky Gunners. I can't see the Foxes getting their first league win over Arsenal for 20 years, but a draw is certainly not an unrealistic possibility.

Ben Jacobs is ESPN FC's Leicester City blogger. Follow him on Twitter @JacobsBen.


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