Four Nigerian are expected to be in action on Friday night as the 2017/2018 English Premier League begins.
The Nigerians are Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa and Wilfred Ndidi for Leicester City as they confront Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium who will likely parade their international teammate, Alex Iwobi,
Arsenal will be hoping to start the new campaign on a winning note while Leicester, champions of the English top flight two seasons ago, will be hard pressed to assert themselves as one of the league’s leading lights.
Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare hopes new signing Iheanacho, who arrived from Manchester City for £25m just last week, will be fit enough to start after picking up a foot injury against Monchengladbach in their pre-season friendly.
Iheanacho played 20 Premier League games for his former side last season and notched up four goals while Ndidi, who joined Leicester in January and became and Musa played 17 and 21 league games with 1,522 minutes and 753 minutes of league action respectively.
Iheanacho who had an impressive goal ratio in his league appearances last term played a total of 526 minutes but could get more minutes playing alongside Jamie Vardy in Shakespeare’s preferred two-man strike force.
Iwobi played 26 times in the Premier League last season and scored thrice but his pre-season form, where he scored twice, ahead of Friday’s curtain raiser shows more goals may be in the tank for the Nigerian.
Musa has been linked with a move to Championship side Hull City but it is Iheanacho that will receive much of the attention from the Nigerian legion after his big money swap from the Blues of Manchester to those of Leicester.
Premier League and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry praised the acquisition of the former Nigerian international, who has a buy-back clause to return to City.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for him. I think back to Manuel Pellegrini’s last season at Manchester City. He wasn’t the only one but he was the spark in the team, fighting everywhere, scoring goals, trying his hardest. So I think it’s a good buy for Leicester,” the former French international told Sky Sports.
“It will be interesting to see how he interacts with Jamie Vardy. Is he going to do the job of Shinji Okazaki? Is Okazaki going to keep his place? Are they going to be more adventurous? I don’t know whether Craig Shakespeare will play a 4-4-1-1 or a proper 4-4-2, but it’s a good signing.
“Whenever he had to do something at Manchester City, even when things were not great for the team, he delivered. People might say he had better players around him but let’s not forget that Leicester won the league two years ago. They have some good players too.”
Arsenal have won their last seven home matches against Leicester in all competitions while Leicester have failed to win 19 of their last 21 away matches in the Premier League. The Gunners however have only won their opening Premier League fixture only once in the last seven years.