Arsenal face Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday as a team stuck in a rut.
The Gunners sorely need a win. Unai Emery’s job is on the line after just one win in five, with the Gunners failing to beat Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Vitoria of late. Defeat at the Emirates will not only see fans likely turn on their club, but increase speculation surrounding the Spaniard.
They go up against a Leicester side who are flying high under Brendan Rodgers. They’ve won every game since Liverpool rocked them with a late winner in their Premier League clash back in October.
And how Arsenal must have wished they’d signed Youri Tielemans, who has been key in the Foxes’ surge towards the Premier League top four.
With three goals and two assists from 11 appearances, the Belgium international has been a vital clog in the Rodgers machine.
He has the creative juices that Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos and Lucas Torreira don’t.
And he would have been an Arsenal player had Arsene Wenger got his way in 2017. At the time, Tielemans was in-demand after starring for Anderlecht in Belgium.
Speaking two years ago, Tielemans said Arsenal wanted him. But he was deterred by the Gunners hierarchy, who wouldn’t budge on their stance of keeping the squad together.
“I knew not much was going to change with Arsenal’s squad,” he said.
“Their management wanted to keep the same group of players together in order to finish high in the Premier League.
“I had to be honest with myself and take a look at the midfielders Arsenal have got. They are top-class players.
“I knew that I would not get many first-team chances with them, so I didn’t give any more thought to joining them.
“I never said no to any club. But I made it clear where I wanted to go.”
Arsenal’s draw against Vitoria – and their recent game against Wolves – makes for alarming reading.
Across both games they’ve managed to produce just five shots on targets. Their opponents, in contrast, have managed 12.
This isn’t good enough. While Arsenal aren’t a side considered as elite anymore, they should still be doing better than what they’ve managed so far.
And those stats clearly show they have an issue with creativity. Nobody is providing the ammunition for the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe to fire.
Tielemans could have been Arsenal’s but their failure has seen him end up at Leicester instead.
Rodgers values him. He knows that he’s got a player on his hands who would improve nearly every single one of the Foxes’ Premier League rivals.
And Arsenal could come to regret their decision to place their faith in other players instead.
Few are betting against Leicester to emerge from the Emirates with three points to their name. They’re a team in form, and the Gunners aren’t.
A transfer mistake made two years ago could come back to haunt the Gunners.
And defeat will, most certainly, hurt Emery’s chances of seeing out the season.