Analysis

Stats Zone: How Leicester will use Kante to nullify Arsenal's attacking threat

The Foxes' combative midfielder will be key to keeping the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil quiet, explains Alex Keble...

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Leicester City’s incredible organisation and spirit will be tested to its fullest this Sunday as they face the league’s best passers and one of the country’s biggest pitches. Having lost 5-2 at the King Power earlier in the season, Claudio Ranieri will be aware of the enormity of this task.

The key battle area will be Arsenal’s left, where Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil team up - it'll be up to N’Golo Kante to stop them

The key battle area will be Arsenal’s left, where Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil team up - it'll be up to N’Golo Kante to stop them. Leicester’s off-the-ball shape is phenomenal. By sitting in such a tight, deep and narrow 4-4-2 shape they not only restrict space for the attackers but also simplify the role of each individual member. 

Kante and Daniel Drinkwater have to cover less space than most central midfielders, largely because Leicester’s front two actually sit on top of the opposition defensive midfielders (given the depth where their formation lines up, it is almost a 4-4-2-0).

Influence

Leicester player influence vs Man City (left) and Spurs (right)

No team is better at stretching apart and tearing through deep defensive shells than Arsenal. This is largely thanks to Ozil, who on such occasions drifts over to the left hand side and interchanges neatly with Sanchez. Expect Arsenal to almost exclusively use this flank on Sunday.

Arsenal attack

Sanchez's attacking dashboard vs Leicester (left) and Ozil's (right)

This correlates exactly with Kante’s main position (as the right-sided central midfielder). Kante’s greatest contribution to Leicester is cutting off the passing lines and intercepting the ball before it reaches a team’s most dangerous players.

Essentially, he prevents the counter-counter (Leicester are only really vulnerable immediately after a failed counter-attack of their own) by pressing hard onto the central midfielders.

He makes more interceptions (4.1 per match) than any other Premier League player, and that's from within the team that make the most interceptions as a whole (21.8 per match). The Foxes will need to be more determined, resolute, and show greater anticipation than in any other game this season if they are to prevent Arsenal from breaking through.

Leicester defence

Leicester interceptions vs Man City (left) and Kante's defensive dashboard vs Stoke (right)

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