Leicester vs Arsenal preview: Partey pushing for start

Team news, stats and prediction ahead of Leicester vs Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday (kick-off 12pm).

Team news

Leicester trio Harvey Barnes, Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne are expected to be recalled to face Arsenal on Sunday.

The trio started on the bench in Thursday’s 2-0 Europa League defeat to Slavia Prague which knocked the Foxes out of the last-32.

James Maddison remains out with a hip problem and James Justin (knee), Dennis Praet (hamstring), Wesley Fofana (hamstring), Ayoze Perez (knee) and Wes Morgan (back) are all sidelined.



Brendan Rodgers has a balancing act to play with his squad in the coming weeks




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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers says Slavia Prague were worthy winners, after they beat his side 2-0 at the King Power Stadium to knock them out of the Europa League.

Arsenal should have a fully-fit squad to take to the King Power Stadium.

Midfielder Thomas Partey came off the bench in Thursday’s Europa League win over Benfica and will be pushing for a recall following a hamstring injury.

Defender Rob Holding (concussion) missed the trip but should be in contention as manager Mikel Arteta must decide if any players are in need of a rest.

How to follow

Follow Leicester vs Arsenal in our dedicated live match blog. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.



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A look ahead to this weekend’s Premier League games plus key stats for each fixture

Jones Knows prediction

The destination of the points in this one will centre around which club can recover quickest from their Thursday night escapades. Arsenal will take to the field in far more buoyant mood after keeping their Europa League hopes alive vs Benfica but it’s Leicester that surely will be the fresher side.

Brendan Rodgers’ tactical flexibility and ability to rotate his squad in shrewd fashion is a key part of his management. I always got the feeling a Premier League game takes prominence in his eyes over Europe and Thursday’s defeat to Slavia Prague backed that up. They will be ready to rock for this one.

A common theme of their season has been their impressive performance levels after a Europa League clash on a Thursday. The Foxes have won six of their seven Premier League matches straight after a Thursday game, including the 1-0 win at The Emirates back in October. At 6/4 they look backable.

The match-up down Leicester’s left has got my punting juices flowing, too.

Hector Bellerin will be tasked with dealing with a fresh Harvey Barnes, who was rested in midweek. The Arsenal defender is the most booked player in the Premier League this season (8) with one of those for a foul on Barnes in the corresponding fixture. In total, the flying Leicester man has got 12 players booked this season which ranks him only behind Jack Grealish in that regard. The 7/2 with Sky Bet for Bellerin to be carded looks very fair.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0

BETTING ANGLE: Hector Bellerin to pick up a card (7/2 with Sky Bet)

Last time out…



ASTON VILLA 1-2 LEICESTER




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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester’s win over Aston Villa in the Premier League


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2:42

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win over Arsenal in the Premier League

Opta stats

  • Leicester City have won four of their last six Premier League matches against Arsenal (D1 L1), one more than in their previous 36 top-flight league matches against the Gunners (D10 L23).
  • Arsenal have lost their last three away Premier League matches against Leicester, receiving more red cards (2) than goals scored (1) in these three games.
  • Leicester have lost once to Arsenal at the King Power this season, losing 0-2 in the League Cup. The only team to beat the Foxes twice at the King Power in a season is Chelsea, who did so in both 2016-17 and 2017-18.
  • Arsenal have won just 14.3 per cent of their Premier League matches at the King Power Stadium (1/7) – among stadiums at which they’ve played at least five Premier League games, only at Hillsborough (12.5 per cent) and Old Trafford (13.8 per cent) do they have a lower win ratio in the competition.
  • Three different teams have already done the Premier League double over Arsenal this season (Aston Villa, Man City, Wolves), the most in a single campaign against the Gunners since 1994-95 (4 – Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and QPR).
  • Leicester City have won six of their seven Premier League games immediately following a European fixture this season (L1), while Arsenal have lost six of their seven such games (W1).
  • Arsenal have lost consecutive away league games five times under Mikel Arteta (including a current run), last losing three in a row in February 2019. On each of the four previous occasions the Gunners have lost back-to-back away games under the Spaniard, they’ve won their next such match.

Pitch to Post Preview – Jamie Redknapp’s Liverpool verdict. Plus: Chelsea v Man Utd build-up, and Tottenham’s tricky Burnley test

On this week’s Pitch to Post Preview Podcast, Jamie Redknapp joins Peter Smith to assess where Liverpool stand right now. The Sky Sports pundit explains why he thinks it would be a surprise if they make the top four and the reasons why he expects them to get back to their top level next season.

We also hear from Sky Sports football writer Jack Wilkinson, who assesses Chelsea’s start under Thomas Tuchel, Man Utd’s talk of the title, and gives his verdict on why the next couple of months could be key for the future of Jose Mourinho and Tottenham. Plus he shares his Pitch for the weekend!

Listen to the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox

Let’

Man Utd face Zlatan reunion after drawing Milan in EL last 16

Manchester United will face Italian giants AC Milan in the last 16 of the Europa League, while Arsenal have been drawn to play Olympiakos.

United will host the first leg against Milan, which will see their former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic return to Old Trafford.

Arsenal will travel to Greece in the first leg of their tie with Olympiakos, who knocked them out of the Europa League in the round of 32 last season.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late goal helped Arsenal past Benfica in the last 32

The Greek champions play their home matches at the Karaiskakis Stadium, the venue for Arsenal’s dramatic victory over Benfica in the last 32 of the competition on Thursday.

The Gunners’ north London rivals Tottenham will face Dinamo Zagreb, who progressed to the last 32 after beating Russian side Krasnodar.



AP - Mikel Arteta




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David Seaman says Arsenal will be happy with their draw in the last-16 of the Europa League, but should still be wary of Greek champions Olympiakos

Spurs won the UEFA Cup – the previous incarnation of the Europa League – in 1972 and 1984, while their manager Jose Mourinho lifted the trophy with Porto in 2003 and Manchester United in 2017.

All four British teams left in the competition were kept apart after Rangers were drawn to play Slavia Prague, who shocked Leicester in the previous round.

Lucas Moura celebrates with team-mates after putting Tottenham 3-0 up against Wolfsberger
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Tottenham saw off Austrian side Wolfsberger 8-1 on aggregate in the previous round

Elsewhere in the draw, former Arsenal boss Unai Emery – the most successful manager in the history of the Europa League – will see his current side Villarreal take on Dynamo Kiev.

Roma will play 2009 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk, while the 1992 champions Ajax will face Swiss side Young Boys.

Granada will continue their impressive campaign against Norwegian side Molde. The Spanish club are enjoying their first season in European competition and stunned Italian giants Napoli in the previous round.



Alfredo Morelos celebrates with Ianis Hagi after scoring to make it 1-0 Rangers during a UEFA Europa League match between Rangers and Royal Antwerp at Ibrox Stadium, on February 25, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)




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Kris Boyd warns Rangers that Slavia Prague will be a very tough test when they meet in the Europa League last-16 tie

The first legs of the last-16 ties will take place on March 11, with the return legs a week later.

The quarter-final and semi-final draws will then be held on March 19 in Nyon, Switzerland.

Europa League last-16 draw

  • Ajax vs Young Boys
  • Dynamo Kiev vs Villarreal
  • Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Olympiakos vs Arsenal
  • Dinamo Zagreb vs Tottenham
  • Manchester United vs AC Milan
  • Slavia Prague vs Rangers
  • Granada vs Molde

Zlatan’s Man Utd date

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been pivotal to AC Milan’s title tilt

Ibrahimovic’s reunion with Manchester United makes for a mouth-watering tie.

The 39-year-old striker established himself as a fan favourite during his short spell at Old Trafford, scoring in the Community Shield and EFL Cup triumphs in 2016/17.

Ibrahimovic played a key role in that season’s victorious Europa League run, but a serious knee injury in the quarter-final triumph against Anderlecht ruled him out of the remainder of the campaign.

The veteran only made seven more United appearances after that and looked set to wind down his career when he moved to LA Galaxy in March 2018, but the striker has flourished since returning to Milan and passed a landmark 500 career club goals earlier in February.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he’s been impressed by Ibrahimovic this season and is looking forward to facing the veteran striker in the Europa League.

“It’s a nice birthday gift, isn’t it? To watch that draw,” Solskjaer told Manchester United’s website.

“We do have the tradition of making it hard for ourselves in draws. It’s one of those draws again that you feel could be a Champions League game.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd
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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been impressed with Ibrahimovic this season

“It’s good for us to have these games to look forward to. This team needs challenges and we enjoy challenges and we embrace them.

“The tradition and history of AC Milan, it’s a great club that we welcome and it’s a great stadium that we go to there, and we’re looking forward to it.

“Zlatan, of course, I’ve been so impressed, I’ve got to say, by how his career has gone.

“He had a career-threatening injury when he was here but came back from that and went to [the] MLS, then came back to Milan and has really lifted them. They’re on the up and have done really well this season.”

Can Zlatan fire AC Milan to Serie A title? Read more…

Head-to-head: Brits sides vs last-16 opponents

Arsenal vs Olympiakos:

  • Arsenal and Olympiakos have previously met on 10 occasions across all European competitions, with no encounter ending level and both teams winning five times each.
  • Olympiakos knocked out Arsenal in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League last season; the Gunners last suffered back-to-back eliminations at the hands of the same side in 2012-13 & 2013-14 against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
  • Against sides from a specific country they have faced more than 10 times in major UEFA competition, only against Italian (55%) and French (54%) opposition have Arsenal won a higher share of their matches than against Greek teams (10/20 – 50%).

Man Utd vs AC Milan:

  • The first leg will be the 11th meeting between Manchester United and AC Milan in European competition, with all 10 previous meetings coming in the European Cup/Champions League.
  • Manchester United have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with AC Milan, with no side eliminating United more often in UEFA European competition (also Real Madrid, 4, excluding Super Cups).
  • In their last meeting in March 2010, Manchester United won 4-0 against AC Milan – it is the Italians’ joint-heaviest defeat in major UEFA European competition (excluding Super Cups).

Tottenham vs Dinamo Zagreb:

  • Tottenham Hotspur and Dinamo Zagreb have met only once before in European competition; Spurs beat Dinamo 4-0 at home during the group stages of the UEFA Cup in 2008-09, a game in which Darren Bent scored a hat-trick.
  • Tottenham Hotspur have played Croatian opposition on seven previous occasions, with six of those being against Hajduk Split. They have won five times and lost twice, with both of those losses away to Hajduk (1984 and 1991).
  • Dinamo Zagreb have lost nine of their last 10 matches against English sides in European competition, winning the other game 2-1 against Arsenal in the Champions League group stages in 2015.

Rangers vs Slavia Prague

  • This will be Rangers’ first meeting with Slavia Prague in European competition; they last faced Czech opposition in the 2002-03 UEFA Cup first round, going out on away goals to Viktoria Zizkov.
  • Despite winning all three of their home games against Czech opponents in European competition, Rangers have been eliminated in each such tie – to Dukla Prague in the 1981-82 Cup Winners’ Cup, Sparta Prague in the 1991-92 European Cup and Viktoria Zizkov in the 2002-03 UEFA Cup.
  • Rangers will be the third Scottish club to face Slavia Prague in major European competition; both of the previous two progressed – St. Mirren in the 1985-86 UEFA Cup first round and Hearts in the 1992-93 UEFA Cup first round.

Europa League 20/21: Key dates

  • April 8 & 15: Quarter-finals
  • April 29 & May 6: Semi-finals
  • May 26: Final (Gdansk, Poland)

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How Arsenal pulled off sensational comeback v Benfica

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After Extra Time
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Arsenal
vs Benfica. Europa League Round of 32.

Karaiskakis Stadium.



Arsenal



3

  • P Aubameyang (21st minute, 87th minute)
  • K Tierney (67th minute)





Benfica



2

  • D Goncalves (43rd minute)
  • R Silva (61st minute)

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Aubameyang to the rescue for Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rescued Arsenal’s Europa League campaign from the jaws of defeat as his late winner secured a dramatic 3-2 victory over Benfica in Greece.

Arsenal were staring down the barrel of elimination at the round-of-32 stage for the second successive season after Diogo Goncalves’ stunning first-half free-kick and Rafa Silva’s second – after a costly Dani Ceballos error – gifted Benfica the advantage after Aubameyang’s opener.

The collapse left Arsenal with half an hour to salvage their season, and they rose to the challenge in thrilling fashion.

Kieran Tierney’s venomous strike sparked the comeback, which was sealed with three minutes remaining when Aubameyang peeled away to the back post to head in Bukayo Saka’s cross, and Arsenal into the last 16 of the Europa League after a 4-3 aggregate win.

Player ratings

Arsenal: Leno (6), Bellerin (6), Luiz (6), Gabriel (6), Tierney (8), Ceballos (4), Xhaka (6), Odegaard (6), Smith Rowe (6), Aubameyang (8), Saka (8).

Subs: Lacazette (5), Willian (6), Partey (5), Chambers (n/a), Elneny (n/a).

Benfica: Leite (6), Verissimo (5), Otamendi (5), Vertonghen (5), Goncalves (7), Taarabt (5), Weigl (6), Silva (7), Grimaldo (6), Pizzi (6), Seferovic (5).

Subs: Everton (5), Gabriel (5), Nunez (5), Waldschmidt (n/a), Tavares (n/a).

Man of the match: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang to the rescue for Arsenal

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) celebrates after scoring a goal against Benfica
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Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) celebrates after scoring a goal against Benfica

With their hopes of a top-four finish floundering and their chances of domestic cup silverware over, it was make or break for Arsenal at Olympiakos’ Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, the stand-in venue for their Europa League round-of-32 second leg in light of the UK’s strict coronavirus travel rules.

But despite being almost 2000 miles away from the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners were at home, quickly outnumbering Benfica in midfield and establishing control of the contest.

In a game of season-defining importance, Arsenal nerves were settled on 21 minutes when Aubameyang latched onto Saka’s perfectly-weighted reverse pass and floated the opener into the Benfica net to give the Gunners, after a VAR review, the lead in the tie for the first time.

Team news

  • Gabriel Magalhaes, David Luiz, Dani Ceballos and Emile Smith Rowe was recalled as Arsenal made four changes from Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City.
  • Haris Seferovic and Rafa Silva returned as Benfica made two changes from the first leg in Rome.

Former Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen headed Benfica’s first chance harmlessly over as Arsenal cruised towards a half-time lead, but they were stopped in their tracks by a moment of individual brilliance.

After Ceballos was penalised for a needless foul on midfielder Julian Weigl, Goncalves whipped an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner of Bernd Leno’s goal to hand Benfica a crucial away goal with his first for the club.

Benfica's forward Diogo Goncalves (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Arsenal
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Benfica’s forward Diogo Goncalves (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Arsenal

Aubameyang had the ball in the Benfica net early in the second half in almost identical circumstances to his first-half strike, but this time the Gunners captain fell foul of a VAR offside review.

Things took a turn for the worse on the hour when Ceballos’ calamitous defensive header released Rafa Silva through on the Arsenal goal, and the Portuguese registered Benfica’s second away goal of the tie which left the Gunners needing to score two unanswered goals.

Benfica looked to have secured an unassailable lead but Arsenal had other ideas, with Tierney’s fierce strike into the far corner breathing life back into the Gunners’ campaign six minutes later.

Kieran Tierney celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Benfica
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Kieran Tierney celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Benfica

Substitute Darwin Nunez was unable to punish two defensive mix-ups involving David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes as Arsenal’s hope of progressing hung perilously by a thread.

But, with three minutes remaining, the Gunners completed their remarkable comeback and once again Saka was the creator, curling a sumptuous ball to the back post which Aubameyang stooped to head in as Arsenal booked their place in Friday’s last-16 draw in the most dramatic of circumstances.

When is the Europa League last-16 draw?

The draw will take place on Friday, February 26 in Nyon’s House of European Football at 12pm UK time. You will be able to follow it across Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

Europa League

Europa League 20/21: Key dates

  • March 11 & 18: Round of 16
  • April 8 & 15: Quarter-finals
  • April 29 & May 6: Semi-finals
  • May 26: Final (Gdansk, Poland)

Arsenal keep Europa League dream alive – Match stats

  • Arsenal have reached the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League in three of the four seasons they have appeared in the competition, with the only exception being in 2019-20 (eliminated at the last 32).
  • Benfica suffered their first UEFA Europa League defeat since February 2020 against Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2), ending their eight-game unbeaten run in the competition.
  • Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (20) has more assists among English players for Premier League clubs in all competitions since the start of last season than Bukayo Saka (18), following his two assists this evening.
  • Diogo Gonçalves’ equaliser for Benfica was their first direct free-kick goal in the UEFA Europa League since February 2014 (Nicolás Gaitán v PAOK Salonika).
  • Kieran Tierney became the first Scotsman to score for Arsenal in a major European competition since Willie Young against IFK Göteborg in March 1980 in the Cup Winners Cup quarter final.

Man of the Match – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Getty)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in seven of his last eight cup matches for Arsenal (10 goals in total – FA Cup x5, UEFA Europa League x4, Community Shield x1), only failing to net against Benfica in the first leg during this run.

What’s next?

Arsenal travel to Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday at midday, while Benfica host Rio Ave in the Primeira Liga on Monday at 7pm.

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