Arsenal don’t have any realistic prospect of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, but they do have a good chance of making the Europa League, now trailing sixth-placed Wolves by just three points following their victory over Nuno Espirito Santo’s men on Saturday.
That was their third win to nil on the bounce, while in addition they also produced another victory over Sheffield Utd in the FA Cup.
Things are also looking up for the Foxes after they finally picked up their first win since the restart, downing Palace 3-0 at the King Power, with Jamie Vardy’s brace taking him into the 100 club for goals.
However, in truth the Eagles were poor and they had to be patient for the breakthrough with all three strikes coming in the second half, meaning Leicester have taken a lead into the second period in just one of their last nine as they were level at that point in seven, with the exception a narrow 1-0 advantage hosting relegation contenders Villa.
In fact, despite their lofty league position, Brendan Rodgers’ outfit have won the first half in just two of 14 matches against top-half sides this term, with neither coming against the traditional heavyweights as they secured 1-0 leads over Burnley and Sheffield Utd.
The Gunners may have taken first half wins over Wolves, Norwich and Southampton in their last three, but prior to that they’d drawn the opening 45 in five of six matches, leaving them level at the break in three of their last four at the Emirates.
Given these two sides have been all square at half time in six of seven meetings dating back to the beginning of 2016/17, with the exception when Konstantinos Mavropanos saw red for Arsenal after just 15 minutes in May 2018, this should be another tight encounter.
Leicester had managed just two goals in three games prior to facing Palace, as well as going down 1-0 to Chelsea in the FA Cup, so we’re unconvinced they’ve fully rediscovered their scoring touch just yet.
Indeed, they’ve drawn a blank in three of their last five against top-half outfits, as one of those exceptions came against Burnley, while they’ve now lost four of six such winless matches.
Output in this game could be reduced by absentees. Leicester have fitness doubts surrounding attacking midfielder James Maddison, striker Ayoze Perez and left-back Ben Chillwell, while right-back Ricardo Pereira has been sidelined since March.
The Foxes like to use their full-backs as weapons going forwards and they’ve been level at the break in four of five games Pereira has missed this season as they’ve missed his attacking impetus.
Meanwhile, although Arsenal’s injury list has shortened, Mikel Arteta will be sweating on the fitness of Nicolas Pepe and won’t be able to call upon Gabriel Martinelli from the bench.
Given Arsenal are a poor W2-D4-L6 against the top eight in the table this season, we wouldn’t be able to merely trust recent showings and get behind them.
This game could go either way, but we’d back the half-time draw in what could be quite a cagey affair.