Arsenal face Leeds United in the fourth round of the League Cup at the Emirates Stadium with both sides needing a win to kick start their domestic campaign.
The Gunners endured an absolutely torrid start to the new campaign, losing their first three games of the season without even scoring a goal, but have shown some signs of improvement since.
Friday night’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa was one of their most comfortable and dominant wins of the season with the Gunners finally looking like the Arsenal of old again, but Mikel Arteta’s side are still nowhere near where they want to be.
A cup run could well be the perfect way to breathe confidence into the group, fuel a climb up the league table and, in the absence of European football this year, be an enjoyable side-show away from the league for Arsenal.
Arteta is likely to make changes for this one, though, with fringe players such as Bernd Leno, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny and promising striker Folarin Balogun among those who could come into the starting line-up.
Arsenal v Leeds United
Carabao Cup Fourth Round
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Ultra HD
(Maximum 10 matches)
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
NOV 2003 PREMIER LEAGUE Leeds 1-4 Arsenal
MAY 2003 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 2-3 Leeds
Many assumed that after a solid first season back in the top-flight that Leeds United would push on this year, but ‘second season syndrome’ appears to have struck at Elland Road.
Although they did salvage a dramatic point through a 94th-minute penalty from Rodrigo in their last outing, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side are still only one place and three points above the Premier League drop-zone.
Many have criticised the Yorkshire-based side’s summer recruitment, but you’d still expect better performances and more intensity from a Bielsa side that achieved a 9th-placed finish last season and kept hold of all of their key players.
Things just have not clicked so far this season for Leeds, but a cup run could be the perfect way of kick starting it and also to see if some of the fringe players struggling for minutes could come in and make an impact.
Leeds have a very strong U23 set-up and some of their star performers will be desperate to finally get a chance at first-team level and prove to the manager that they could be the difference-maker the club needs right now.
Without knowing how strong these two sides will go with their line-ups, cup ties like this are always tough to call. You can usually count on Leeds being entertaining, though, and Arsenal appeared to have found their shooting boots again in recent weeks as well. For that reason, we’re backing both teams to score in this one.
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