LONDON: Arsenal travel to Leicester on Sunday in search of a rare away victory that could go a long way towards helping Unai Emery solve his spluttering team’s most pressing problems.
It is no secret that Arsenal possess one of the most unbalanced squads in the Premier League.
Emery inherited a wealth of attacking talent from Arsene Wenger last year, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both enjoying strong goal-scoring campaigns under the Spaniard.
But Emery is also struggling to improve a defence that has conceded more goals than Manchester City and Liverpool put together this term.
The Gunners’ form has been lopsided as well, with 14 out of 18 league games the Emirates Stadium having ended up as home wins but only six so far recorded on the road.
Indeed, a league table based on away form only would see Emery’s side in ninth place, behind Crystal Palace and Watford.
Champions League qualification, of course, could change all that.
It would free Emery from the financial restrictions that prevented him from signing a single permanent new face in January and attract a higher calibre of player.
But Arsenal travel to the King Power Stadium with their hopes of a top four finish in the Premier League out of their own hands.
Consecutive defeats by Crystal Palace and Wolves saw the Gunners drop down to fifth place in the Premier League table.
They will begin the weekend one point behind fourth placed Chelsea, who play at sixth placed Manchester United later on Sunday.
A United win plus an Arsenal draw at Leicester would put all three teams on the same number of points – and Arsenal possess the superior goal difference.
Arsenal can also qualify for the Champions League by winning this season’s Europa League.
The Gunners host Valencia in the semi-final first leg on Thursday in a competition Emery won three times with Sevilla.
And as he tries to cure Arsenal’s travel sickness, Emery insists he is remaining positive rather than dwelling on his team’s dismal away record.
“I don’t want to speak about the last match we lost,” he said.
“I don’t want to speak about our victory at Napoli, I only want to speak about our next match.
“We are preparing, working and not giving too much information. We want to give enough information to be ready to play.
“We can think in each moment about our performance and how we can be consistent.
“Afterwards, we can think generally about the season. Our target is to be in the possibility to take it.”
Arsenal beat Leicester 3-1 at home in October, but the Foxes have since replaced Claude Puel with Brendan Rodgers as manager.
“This coach has given them a new energy, a new idea, a new style,” Emery said.
“He’s not changed the players, but it’s a different system. They’re doing important work from set-pieces, that’s different.
“They feel good now and are in a good moment with confidence. They play with combinations and they have good individuals.
“It’s going to be difficult for us but we need to test ourselves in the present in the Premier League against them with our best optimistic thinking for playing against them.”
Aubameyang could return after missing the 3-1 loss at Wolves on Wednesday to have an operation on a sinus problem.