It wasn’t the late goal or the ongoing celebrations on the field that did it. No, it was a social media message that Leicester’s goat really got it.
Given the modern context of both sides, it’s hard to believe that it was Arsenal that gave the Foxes the biggest shock of their run for the Premier League title in 2016. After a late 2-1 defeat to the Emirates in February, Arsenal moved within two points and allow themselves to win the competition.
The bus ride to the Midlands saw updates from the dressing room at home. Photos of the celebration of the Arsenal players. In their minds, the title race had turned. In Leicester heads, it was motivation.
When Arsenal defeated Leicester in February 2016, it made for selfies in the dressing room
But Leicester won the title and all this campaign is in a strong position
Arsenal, meanwhile, has had a tough season and could miss European football
Arsenal has dropped out. Leicester took the trophy. Just four years later – with the two sides meeting on Tuesday night – Arsenal is fighting in the middle of the table. A push for the Champions League seems less credible than an attempt to get into the Europa League next season.
Leicester, meanwhile, was one of the stories of the season.
They are third and after a wobble at the beginning of the Premier League return, Crystal Palace have beaten over the weekend and should play in the European elite club league next season.
The truth is that while Leicester’s title win was unexpected, they’ve been on a fairly consistent upward trajectory since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his son Aiyawatt took over. They won the championship promotion in 2013-14, stayed up the following year and then won the title.
Brendan Rodgers seems to lead Leicester to a place in the Champions League next season
The dream lasted for a season, but they settled further through Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare, Claude Puel and, when the form fell under Frenchman Brendan Rodgers.
A tragedy was on the way, with Vichai’s helicopter crashing outside the stadium on October 27, 2018, killing him and four others, but Leicester continued to tap as a club.
They have impressed the transfer market. Harry Maguire arrived from downgraded Hull City for £ 12 million in 2017 and left for £ 80 million two years later after developing into one of the country’s top defenders.
Title winner Riyad Mahrez continued for £ 60 million in the same summer, giving them a serious pot to work with.
Mikel Arteta looks like he needs to rebuild his team at Arsenal in the coming window
Leicester also included Jonny Evans – for just £ 3.5 million – James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu in the summer of 2018, and they all established themselves as key players in the first team.
Soyuncu in particular stepped into the breach with minimal fuss when Maguire left. Ben Chilwell has impressed since passing through the academy and is now a big target for Chelsea.
While others were swinging, they also borrowed Youri Tielemans – an elite midfielder who had a few tough years in Monaco but who has now shown his worth.
Likewise, they took advantage of a £ 30 million release clause in Ayoze Perez’s contract in Newcastle to sign it last summer, while the arrival of fellow first team Dennis Praet was a solid addition.
All of their signings have gained a solid as well as an unspectacular reputation and have grown into players that most other Premier League parties would covet.
Leicester has coveted players from other sides – such as Ben Chilwell and James Maddison
It is not difficult to imagine that they will continue this trend in the future. Take Maddison for example. Given the financial situation, it doesn’t seem likely that he will leave in the window, but if he did they would pay a significantly higher fee than the £ 20 million they paid Norwich for him.
That would give them room to invest wisely, find sensible additions in the same kind of pool – the midfielder, now an English international, from the then Championship Norwich – and improve their side.
It stands in stark contrast to Arsenal, which has become known for costly mistakes.
Most obvious is the £ 350,000 a week deal handed over to Mesut Ozil, who is now struggling to get into Mikel Arteta’s side – and sometimes even on the squad.
Mesut Özil’s £ 350,000 a week contract has become an expensive mistake for Arsenal
That financial commitment will continue to hinder them in the future. Now they are not sure whether to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a smaller but still huge contract, despite being their best player.
Then there is the Matteo Guendouzi issue. He ridiculed Brighton players for their relative salaries in a recent loss and has been banned from first team practice. He is talented, but a problem and Arsenal wants to sell him at the window.
It’s not the first time the dressing room makeup has been questioned. Granit Xhaka, then captain, had an argument with fans in the Emirates earlier this season and was taken off the bracelet.
Even big money gains have had a hard time. Nicolas Pepe broke the club’s transfer record when he arrived for £ 72 million in the summer, but only scored five in 27 league appearances.
It feels like Arteta needs to completely rebuild a team that seems to have to rebuild to shreds. Still, Arsenal extended David Luiz’s contract days after an error-prone showing in Manchester City, also permanently signing Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares.
Matteo Guendouzi, meanwhile, has been banned from first team training and will be sold
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Luiz hasn’t had a great season with Arsenal, but it still felt a necessity to keep him on board. The finances in the Emirates suggest that they cannot do much in the market after the end of the season.
There are also questions about the influence of super agent Kia Joorabchian at the club.
When it comes to Ozil and the like, those financial albatrosses will make it difficult to maneuver as much as Arteta needs. Who will realistically want and be able to pay Ozil in the window?
It must be said that there are green shoots, mainly from the academy. Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock are all impressed. Gabriel Martinelli, a £ 6 million summer contract from the fourth tier of Brazilian football, sparkled prior to his injury.
They have also won their last three games, including two in the Premier League, and have given themselves realistic hopes of playing European football next season.
Still, the situation is not great in the Emirates and they are taking on the Leicester clash that needs a win.
In 2016, Robert Huth explained what Arsenal’s parties and selfies did during the title.
Arsenal has the green shoots of recovery in players like Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah
“For me, the most important point was when we lost to Arsenal,” he said. “Everyone was celebrating, they were taking selfies. Even though we were still top notch.
“Some of the boys put up some of those pictures and the blood boiled. It gave us an extra garden in the coming games. ‘
When the two meet on Tuesday evening, all of the celebrations for Leicester should cause a similar change in mindset for the Gunners.
Given their reputation as clubs, it seems odd to say. Still, copying the Leicester model might just be the next step for Arsenal.
Leicester celebrates after winning the Premier League – it was inspired in part by Arsenal