- Posts: 8820
- Joined: Sun May 18, 2003 1:34 pm
- Twitter: @motforum
- Location: Leeds
Leeds United go head-to-head with Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday aiming to get their season back on track. Marcelo Bielsa’s side made a promising start to the new campaign, but heavy defeats against Leicester City and Crystal Palace have sent them sliding down the table. Leeds are priced at 43/20 in the latest Premier League betting odds to win the game, while Arsenal can be backed at 59/50. The Gunners have been inconsistent this term and will also be desperate to pick up three points as they strive to stay in touch with the leading teams. Read on as we preview the fixture.
Defensive Cracks a Worry for Leeds
Leeds were rolling along quite nicely during the early part of the season, but two successive 4-1 defeats have given them a bit of a reality check. They have now conceded 17 goals in their eight league outings, putting them level with West Bromwich Albion for the worst defensive record in the top flight. Conceding over two goals per game is a recipe for disaster in the Premier League, and Bielsa will be eager to see his team shore things up against Arsenal. Only seven teams have scored more goals than Leeds this season, so if they can stem the flow at the other end, they should soon start to climb the table.
Arsenal Down to Earth with a Bang
Arsenal went into their last game against Aston Villa with the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded just seven goals in seven games. They were brought back down to earth with a bang as Dean Smith’s side ran out impressive 3-0 winners at the Emirates Stadium. The defeat will be concerning for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, particularly as he appeared to have rectified his team’s issues at the back. However, the result showed that Arsenal still have a long way to go before they can be considered as genuine challengers for a top-four place.
Phillips Return Would be a Major Boost
Injuries have hit Leeds hard over the past few weeks, with midfielder Kalvin Phillips’ absence undoubtedly the biggest blow they have suffered. Phillips sustained a shoulder injury against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 19 and he was initially ruled out for six weeks. Bielsa has since questioned that time frame, while Phillips has hinted that he could be ready to return this weekend. Rodrigo and Diego Llorente are expected to be available for selection, thus boosting Bielsa’s options for this vital game.
Arsenal Sweating on Key Players
Arsenal also have some fitness issues ahead of the game, with Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney their most pressing concerns. Partey came off at half-time against Villa with a thigh problem and subsequently did not join up with the Ghana squad during the international break. The midfielder has made a big impression since joining Arsenal from Atletico Madrid, and they will be keen to see him back in the starting XI. Tierney is another worry, with the defender facing a long trip back from Israel on Wednesday having spent the last week on international duty with Scotland.
Break Gives Leeds the Chance to Reset
There had been talk prior to the season that Leeds could challenge for the top six and their early form did little to dispel the chatter. The last two results highlighted the folly of building up a newly-promoted team and may serve to be a blessing in disguise in the long run. Ten points after eight matches is a solid enough return and gives Leeds a platform to build on for the rest of the season.
However, they need to take something from the Arsenal game to ensure that their positive start to the campaign isn’t wasted.
Gunners Have a Point to Prove
The media narrative surrounding Arsenal repeatedly pushes the notion that they are heading in the right direction under Arteta. Their recent victory at Manchester United appeared to prove the point, but their display against Villa showed that they are far from the finished article. The Gunners have lost half of their league games this season, and that isn’t good enough for a club that wants to challenge for silverware. While picking up three points at Elland Road won’t be easy, these are the type of games Arsenal have to win if they are to be considered serious contenders this season.
Leeds vs Arsenal Prediction: Both teams have a point to prove in light of their most recent results in the Premier League. Neither side have looked convincing defensively, and that could lead to plenty of goalmouth action at Elland Road. Over 3.5 goals in the match can be backed at odds of 33/20, and that looks to be excellent value given that both teams will need to push for a win.