Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United will head to the Emirates Stadium this Sunday to play some aggressive football against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal in what promises to be another exciting contest. The Gunners will host the Whites for the first time since 2004, with just one point separating the two teams in the Premier League table.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s fixture between Leeds United and Arsenal:
Leeds have won three out of their last four matches to climb to the 10th spot in the Premier League table, firmly establishing themselves as a top-flight side. Another away win would secure Bielsa’s men three successive top-flight away wins since 2002, a memorable feat for the newly promoted side. The Whites have won 10 and lost 10 out of their 22 fixtures so far, scoring and conceding 38 goals. This aggressive style of play has led to inconsistency in their performance – while the opportunities for scoring goals abound, so are the chances of conceding goals very high.
The good news for Marcelo Bielsa is that Patrick Bamford, Raphinha and Jack Harrison are all playing with confidence, and they would love to pile more misery on the out-of-form Mikel Arteta’s side. Leeds injury woes continue – midfielder Kalvin Phillips is an injury doubt – he picked up a calf injury in Monday’s win against Crystal Palace. Rodrigo and Pablo Hernandez have not yet recovered and will miss Sunday’s fixture. Diego Llorente, Adam Forshaw, Robin Koch and Ian Poveda continue to remain on the sidelines.
The last time Leeds visited Emirates, Arsenal were at the peak of their club history, and they hammered the Whites 5-0 in April 2004. The current Arsenal side, however, is a distant cousin of the far superior Invincibles. After starting the season with hopes of clinching at least a Europa League spot, they currently sit one spot behind Leeds, at the 11th place. Their recent resurgence has once again been halted, they suffered back-to-back defeats against Wolves and Aston Villa. A loss on Sunday would mean even more misery for Mikel Arteta’s men – six of their next seven league games are against clubs that sit above them in the League table.
If the recent losses weren’t enough, the Gunners have picked up two red cards in their game against Wolves, and both David Luiz and Bernd Leno have missed the fixture against Aston Villa. They will be back in action on Sunday, improving Arteta’s hopes. Arsenal will also miss the presence of Thomas Partey, who suffered a hamstring injury and is yet to recover. Martin Odegaard might make his debut, the attacking midfielder entered the side on loan from Real Madrid. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left on the bench for the match against Villa, and he will be keen to get back into the starting XI.
HEAD TO HEAD
Arsenal are unbeaten against Leeds in their last eight encounters across competitions. They have won eight and levelled two games, including their most recent encounter back in November. In that fixture at Elland Road, Leeds were undeniably the better side, and it was a miracle that the Gunners have managed to prevent Leeds from scoring. Leeds took a shot at the goal 43 times in total, but have failed to convert any of the opportunities. Incidentally, Arsenal remain the only side that Bielsa’s men have not scored against in more than one encounter. That is a record Bielsa will surely be hoping to change this weekend.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Sunday’s fixture is sure to be an exciting encounter. Leeds have not won a match in London in their last 12 outings to the capital. While Arsenal have the edge in squad depth and quality of the players, they have not lived up to the expectations. Leeds on the other hand, are known to throw in surprises, and one cannot predict the outcome of the game when Bielsa Ball is under contention. Leeds probably will come out with honours at the end of the day, increasing the gap between them and Arsenal in the table. Whatever the result, given the knack for aggressive play that Leeds have developed, it is going to be a fixture to watch.
Leeds United Predicted XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Shackleton; Ayling; Cooper; Alioski; Struijk; Raphinha; Dallas; Klich; Harrison; Bamford.
Arsenal Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin; Holding, Mari; Saka; Ceballos; Xhaka; Pepe; Odegaard; Aubameyang; Lacazette.
When: Sunday, 14 February 2021, 10:00 PM IST
Where: Emirates Stadium, London.
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be streamed on Star Sports and Star Sports Select channels.
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