With the news that talismanic frontman Olivier Giroud was ruled out for three to four months with a broken tibia, many were wondering who can fill the void for Arsenal. Manager Arsene Wenger bullishly insisted in his pre-match news conference that the squad had more than enough depth to cope with the loss of the Frenchman and that he wouldn’t be dipping into the transfer market for a replacement. In this potentially tricky encounter at the King Power Stadium, Wenger opted to start with the more physical presence of Yaya Sanogo as the lone striker. A frustrating afternoon ensued for the forward as he failed to take opportunities to net for the visitors, due to a combination of poor composure and good goalkeeping. While Wenger has a good record in converting raw talent into superstars, with a notable example being Thierry Henry, the lack of a top quality striker means that the patience of Gunners fans continues to run thin.
Since the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona in 2011, the Gunners have been searching for a player who fits into the same mould. During last season they looked to have uncovered this as Aaron Ramsey came to the fore, with a combination of speed, skill and quality finishing, as he notched 16 goals in all competitions. His importance to the team was outlined by the fact that during his absence through injury, Arsenal’s win percentage fell to 55. That momentum has continued into 2014-15 with a pair of crucial league strikes against Crystal Palace and Everton. With the inclusion of Santi Cazorla in the starting line-up, the Welshman was implemented in a deeper role and his impact proved to be a hard-working display. Although much of the talk has centered around signings on the field, the addition of fitness coach Shad Forsythe may prove vital, as he looks to ensure that the exciting talent of Ramsey is available for all of the campaign.
When you looked at the fixtures awaiting Nigel Pearson’s side at the start of the Premier League campaign, you may have feared for their survival chances. The Foxes have defied all of their doubters in the opening credits of the season as they have produced a trio of good performances against teams competing for the top four spots. After twice coming from behind on the opening day against Everton and stifling Chelsea and Arsenal for long periods with an organised and energetic approach, Pearson’s team illustrated that they will be difficult to beat. Despite a lack of top-flight experience in their ranks, with a combined total of 550 appearances in their line-up, Leicester have a good team ethic and will look to build on this encouraging start.
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