FOOTBALL

18 December, 2021

AUTHOR: James Dowen

STAR PREVIEW Sat: Leeds United v Arsenal

As COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the football schedule, Leeds United’s clash with Arsenal at Elland Road is still set to go ahead and should be an intriguing Premier League clash between two sides on totally different trajectories.

Leeds, of course, are looking to bounce back from their humiliating 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City in the week whereas things are looking up for visitors Arsenal who moved into the top-four after a win over West Ham.

For perhaps the first time in his tenure as Leeds boss, the pressure is starting to be turned up on Marcelo Bielsa. Even he admitted after that defeat to City on Tuesday that the performance was the worst of his spell in Yorkshire and their league position is starting to look perilous, sitting just five points above 18th-placed Burnley who have two games in hand.

Even the marvellous performances of Raphina and the return of talisman striker Patrick Bamford haven’t been able to turn Leeds’ fortunes around with the magic of their first season back in the top-flight starting to evaporate and second-season syndrome appearing to hit hard.

Admittedly, their recent run of fixtures haven’t been particularly kind but, unfortunately for Bielsa and co, they don’t get much easier with Arsenal coming on Saturday and then a trip to Liverpool approaching on Boxing Day.

Leeds United v Arsenal
Premier League
17:30 Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League / Sky Sports Ultra HD

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
OCT 2021 LEAGUE CUP Arsenal 2-0 Leeds
FEB 2021 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 4-2 Leeds
NOV 2020 PREMIER LEAGUE Leeds 0-0 Arsenal
JAN 2020 FA CUP Arsenal 1-0 Leeds
JAN 2012 FA CUP Arsenal 1-0 Leeds
JAN 2011 FA CUP Leeds 1-3 Arsenal
JAN 2011 FA CUP Arsenal 1-1 Leeds
APR 2004 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 5-0 Leeds
JAN 2004 FA CUP Leeds 1-4 Arsenal
MAY 2003 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 2-3 Leeds

After a disastrous start to the campaign, Arsenal have done amazingly well to get their season back on track and, following a superb victory over West Ham in the week, currently sit in the Champions League places.

Gabriel Martinelli gave Arsenal the lead just a couple of minutes into the second-half before, rather controversially, Mikel Arteta’s side were awarded a penalty which resulted in Hammers defender Vladimir Coufal being given his marching orders.

Alexandre Lacazette’s spot-kick was saved by ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but promising midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe managed to seal the points for them in the 87th-minute with a driven shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

This is despite the ongoing situation regarding the future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is still unavailable for the Gunners after being stripped of the captaincy following a disciplinary breach.

Given the form of both sides, it is hard to look beyond an Arsenal victory in this one. We know Leeds have been good for an upset against the top clubs in the past, but it’s hard to see them doing much until their issues are addressed in the January transfer window. We’re backing Arsenal and over 2.5 goals.


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PROFIT/LOSS (DECEMBER 2021): PROFIT 4.55 points
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