It was not the late goal or the sustained celebrations on the ground that did it. No, it was a social media post that really attracted the Leicester goat.
Given the modern context on both sides, it’s hard to believe that it was Arsenal that gave the Foxes the biggest scare of their 2016 Premier League title race. A late 2-1 defeat to the Emirates in February saw Arsenal jump to a point and get into a position to win the league.
The bus ride to the Midlands has seen updates from the house locker room. Pictures of Arsenal players celebrating. In their minds, the title race had shifted. In Leicester it was motivation.
When Arsenal beat Leicester in February 2016, it prompted the locker room selfie
But Leicester won the title and is already in a strong position this campaign
Arsenal, meanwhile, had a difficult season and could miss European football
Arsenal, like them, has given up. Leicester lifted the trophy. Barely four years later – the two parties to meet Tuesday evening – Arsenal is fighting in the middle of the table. A push for the Champions League seems less credible than an effort to enter the Europa League next season.
Leicester, meanwhile, was one of the tales of the season.
They are third and after a swing at the start of the return from the Premier League, beat Crystal Palace over the weekend and are expected to compete in elite European club competition next season.
The truth is that even if the Leicester title victory was unexpected, they have followed a fairly steady upward trajectory since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and her son Aiyawatt took over. They won promotion to the Championship in 2013-14, stayed in place the following year, and then won the title.
Brendan Rodgers set to lead Leicester to Champions League spot next season
The dream lasted a season, but they continued to be established by Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare, Claude Puel, then, when the form diminished under the Frenchman, Brendan Rodgers.
There was a tragedy en route, Vichai’s helicopter crashed outside the stadium on October 27, 2018, killing him and four others, but Leicester, as a club, continued to spin .
They impressed on the transfer market. Harry Maguire arrived from Hull City relegated for 12 million pounds in 2017 and left two years later for 80 million pounds, after becoming one of the best defenders in the country.
The title winner, Riyad Mahrez, left for £ 60 million the same summer, which allowed them to work seriously.
Mikel Arteta seems to need to rebuild his team at Arsenal in the coming window
Leicester also recruited Jonny Evans – for just £ 3.5 million – James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu in the summer of 2018, all establishing themselves as key players on the first team.
Soyuncu, in particular, entered the breach with a minimum of stories when Maguire left. Ben Chilwell has impressed since joining the academy and is now a big money target for Chelsea.
While others have procrastinated, they have also loaned and recovered Youri Tielemans – an elite midfielder who has had some tough years in Monaco but has now shown his worth.
Likewise, they exploited a £ 30m release clause in Ayoze Perez’s Newcastle contract to sign it last summer, while the arrival of compatriot Dennis Praet was a solid addition.
All of their signatures arrived with a solid but unspectacular reputation, and became players that most other Premier League teams would covet.
Leicester has developed players coveted by other teams – like Ben Chilwell and James Maddison
It is not difficult to imagine them continuing this trend in the future. Take Maddison, for example. He doesn’t seem likely to leave out the window, given the financial situation, but if he did, they would pay much higher fees than the £ 20 million they paid Norwich for him.
This would give them the opportunity to invest wisely, find sensible additions to the same type of pool – the midfielder, now an English international, came from the former Norwich championship – and improve their team.
It comes in direct contrast to Arsenal, which has become famous for its costly mistakes.
The most obvious is the £ 350,000 a week deal given to Mesut Ozil, who is now struggling to get into Mikel Arteta’s camp – and sometimes even into the team.
Mesut Ozil’s £ 350,000-a-week contract turned into a costly mistake for Arsenal
This financial commitment will weigh on them in the future. Now they are not sure if they will give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a smaller but still huge contract, although he is their best player.
Then there is the question of Matteo Guendouzi. He made fun of Brighton players on their relative wages in a recent loss and was banned from forming the first team. He is talented but a problem and Arsenal wants to sell him in the window.
This is not the first time that the makeup of the dressing room has been called into question. Granit Xhaka, then captain, argued with UAE fans earlier this season and was stripped of the armband.
Even signatures of large sums of money have struggled. Nicolas Pepe broke the club’s transfer record on arrival for £ 72 million this summer, but only scored five in 27 league games.
It seems Arteta needs to completely rebuild a team that seems to be in tatters. However, Arsenal extended David Luiz’s contract a few days after an erroneous posting in Manchester City, also signing Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares permanently in the same fate.
Matteo Guendouzi, meanwhile, has been banned from first team training and is due to be sold
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Luiz did not have a great season at Arsenal, but he felt it necessary to keep him on board. The finances of the Emirates suggest that there will be little they can do in the market after the season ends.
There are also question marks over the influence of super agent Kia Joorabchian at the club.
As for Ozil and others, these financial albatrosses mean that it will be difficult to maneuver as much as Arteta will need them. Who will and can reasonably afford Ozil at the window?
It must be said that there are green shoots, mainly from the academy. Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock all impressed. Gabriel Martinelli, a £ 6m summer contract from the fourth tier of Brazilian football, shone before his injury.
They have also won their last three games – including two in the Premier League – and have given themselves a realistic hope of playing European football next season.
However, the situation is not excellent in the Emirates, and they enter the shock of Leicester in search of a victory.
In 2016, Robert Huth explained what the Arsenal celebrations and selfies did during the title.
Arsenal have the green shoots of recovery from players like Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah
“For me, the key point was when we lost to Arsenal,” he said. “Everyone was celebrating, they were taking selfies. Even if we were always on top.
“Some of the guys put a few pictures on and it made the blood boil. This gave us an extra yard in the next games. “
When the two meet again on Tuesday night, all of the celebrations for Leicester must spark a similar mentality change for the Gunners.
Given their reputation as clubs, it seems strange to say so. Even so, copying the Leicester model may well be the next step for Arsenal.
Leicester celebrates after winning the Premier League – it was partly inspired by Arsenal