Arsenal visit Elland Road for their upcoming Premier League fixture against Leeds United on Sunday. Elland Road was a fortress back in the 1970s, inhabited by an all-conquering Don Revie side. It was also home to a crowd of knowledgeable, hostile, and passionate Yorkshire folk, who over time, have witnessed the rise and fall of the former league champions, Leeds United.
In the ’70s, there wasn’t a team in the country that enjoyed a trip up the M1 to the bear pit of Leeds United. It wasn’t a journey for the faint of heart or those with a weak constitution because the best team rarely ran off with the spoils.
The past clashes were a combination of football thuggery and psychological intimidation, a sort of last man standing with a splash of controversy and the odd sending off. Revie built a team of bruisers that relied on their physicality rather than refinement and finesse, and as such, they were never the type of Champions celebrated by the purists.
Much has befallen the mighty Leeds since Revie’s departure and it took the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa to resurrect this sleeping giant. Not only is he the architect of their revival, but he has also made them an attractive and entertaining side, a description that feels slightly awkward in the same sentence as the name Leeds United. Leads rise to glory has been nothing short of phenomenal and for a betting man willing to stake on their finish this season, one can easily take advantage of $5 minimum deposit casino nz, who are presently offering excellent odds on Leeds finishing in the top half of the table.
Both Arsenal and Leeds United meet again with the home side in relatively high gear and Arsenal stuck in neutral, with neither asserting themselves this campaign. Something isn’t working at the moment for the Gunners, with goals in short supply and a noticeable absence of creativity in the middle.
Leeds are looking to consolidate this term and gather points early in a long and testing first season back in the Premier League. In their favour, they are by far the best side to have been promoted for many years. In fact, my memory is hard pushed to think of a team better than the Leeds side that finally won promotion from the Championship.
Arsenal can expect a repeat of the FA Cup clash last season where Leeds United put them to the sword for long spells with a dazzling first 45 minutes. Ultimately, Arsenal won 1-0 at the Emirates, thanks to a Reiss Nelson goal to proceed to the 4th round but I felt that overall, the better team lost.
If Arsenal are to get three points over Leeds United in this fixture, they probably need to revert to a flat back four in a 4-3-3 formation, with Mikel Arteta ringing the changes. Rob Holding had a torrid time against Aston Villa and against Leeds last time out, he was run ragged. The Yorkshire side had a great deal of success with the former Bolton man on the right and I’m worried that history may well repeat itself.
At the time of writing this, several Arsenal players could be missing from this crucial clash including Partey (thigh), Nelson (knee), Chambers (cruciate ligament), Mari (ankle), Martinelli (knee), Tierney (fatigue). The midfield is going to be Arsenal’s main problem and if it were down to me, I’d shake things up a little to try to inject some purpose but it’s clear that Arteta is still short in this department.
Leeds have creativity, pace, and goals, with the likes of Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips, Pablo Hernandez, Helder Costa, and Rodrigo. Arsenal could potentially be in for another difficult outing and they will be hoping for another narrow win against the run of play.
If Leeds United could pick a time to play Arsenal, then they’re in luck because Arteta’s side are having a mini-blip early on, due to a lack of confidence and goals. The concern for Gunners fans is that Leeds play the type of game that normally results in a loss.
Marcelo Bielsa employs a high tempo game and his side enjoy large amounts of possession while pressing high up into the opponent half. They close down well and apply pressure when they are without the ball, usually waiting for an opportunity to launch a counter-attack or to profit from mistakes.
Under the guidance of Bielsa, Leed’s movement and intensity are exceptional, their unity and competitive spirit are also worthy of note. However, it’s their energy and appetite that shines through, as if they have a point to prove or as if they need to make up for lost time due to a lengthy absence from the big time. Arsenal will need to turn up from the first whistle, they can’t allow Leeds United to dominate this game or they will break the defensive lines and control the contest.
Changes for Arsenal: Lacazette would drop to the bench as would Willian. Aubameyang would become the traditional striker and Saka would roam the left-flank with Pepe narrowly holding on to the other slot. Maitland-Niles would replace Bellerin, who looked below par against Villa and Ceballos would replace the injured Thomas Partey alongside Mohamed Elneny and Joe Willock.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Preferred Team: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Willock, Elneny, Ceballos; Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka.