Arsenal v Leeds pre-match

A cup for Arsenal this year?

Arteta mentioned that: “We have to be challenging for the cups and we’ll try to do that again this season. Obviously it is a competition that is very attached to this football club in recent years and we have to take it very seriously. I follow [Leeds] coach [Marcelo Bielsa] for a long time and I know how tough it will be to play against them. He makes them fight and challenge and run and compete, and never give up in any game or any circumstances.”

So from his little quote, you can expect him to take the FA and UEFA Cups seriously and to also take Leeds seriously. Leeds’ major aim is to win (ideally) automatic promotion to the EPL after missing out on it last year. They have not lost in 15 games but only won 1 of their last 5 matches.

Leeds are winless against us in their last 6 games (losing 5 times) against us since their unprobably 3-2 victory at Highbury in 2003 and we have progressed to the 3rd round of the FA Cup 22 times in the last 23 years (only hick up happening in 2017-2018).

Statistics are with us and I think that Bielsa may not play his strongest Leeds squad so with the wind in our back from our first half vs Chelsea, our win vs Utd, I expect Arteta to put in a good side out there and secure a win. It will not be easy but we will get a win.

Chambers, Tierney are out, Bellerin and Martinelli are a doubt so here is my expected line up:


 AMN   Mustafi (or Holding)   Mavropanos   Saka

 Guendouzi   Torreira

 Pepe   Willock    Nelsson


I can also see Smith-Rowe, Jules, Ceballos join the team on the pitch at some point, depending on the score.

I would say that we will secure a 2-1 win, courtsey of goals from…Lacazette and Willock. Leeds to score through Harrison assisted by their star man Bamford (he is a good player).


Leeds won the FA Cup for the only time in 1972 by beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final.

This is a seventh successive away tie for Leeds – they’ve lost the last three, including at National League side Sutton United and Newport County of League Two.

The Whites have only lost once in 15 league games – but won just one of their past five.

Since being relegated from the Premier League in 2004, Leeds have played nine away FA Cup matches against top-flight opponents and won just once: 1-0 at Manchester United in January 2010



82 Responses to Arsenal v Leeds pre-match

  1. Thank you RC78 for the post and your great post about Bielsa yesterday.

    I love the FA Cup and I’m really looking forward to the game tonight.We definitely shouldn’t be taking this opposition lightly but I hope we see Ceballos and Martinelli if they’re fit.

    Another evening game at The Emirates to look forward to.

  2. Sue says:

    Cheers, RC 👍
    I’ve not been since the Brighton loss, so can’t wait to get there tonight! Going to be a feisty affair…
    My team is :
    Martinez, AMN, Mustafi, Holding, Saka, Guendouzi, Torreira, Pepe, Ceballos, Nelson, Martinelli. (With a very strong bench!)

    I hope Arteta has had a nice long chat with Eddie, for some tips 😀 COYG

  3. RockyLives says:

    Very informative – thanks RC.

    I have a feeling this is going to be a tough battle tonight and whomever Arteta selects to start will really have to be on their game.

    My guess at the team:

    AMN Mustafi Luiz Kolasinac
    Guendouzi Willock
    Pepe Lacazette Saka

  4. RC78 says:

    Seems Arteta may not want to keep Ceba beyond this year and has identified Ziyech as a target to replace him.

  5. RC78 says:

    I think the first half will be cracking tonight so you guys enjoy! I have to submit a research paper by tomorrow night so not even sure if I will manage to watch a bit of the game…

  6. RC78 says:

    I can see Douzi and Willock having a good game tonight

  7. GoonerB says:

    Thanks RC

    Like others I think we will and should take this seriously. Liverpool could afford to play a youth team with an EPL title heading their way and the ECL to defend, where they must surely be among the favourites.

    We are not in a position to demote the F.A cup in its importance this season, and a team that is looking like they will gain automatic promotion to the EPL this year will be one that is playing well and with confidence.

    I think this will be a real challenge. Personally I like Rocky’s team above. It has enough young players in it but has experience in the right areas.

    My one worry for burnout would be with Torreira. Ideally he should get a rest in this game.The shift he has put in recently may have taken some toll and shows how key he is for the team, but then what other option do we have in place of him. Both Douzi and Xhaka need him along side them for them to be at their most effective, so I can’t see an alternative right now, unless we push Luiz forward and play 2 other CB’s.

    I hope that both the CB and holding midfield positions are ones that we reinforce this TW because keeping Torreira fit, and not burning him out and getting injured, could be key to our success as we get to the business end of the season.

  8. Sue says:

    Ziyech’s decent.. I’d be happy if we got him!

  9. LBG says:

    Pissed off already by all the accounts of the Centenary Cup Finsl!
    Mick Jones and Allan Clarke. Part of the dirtiest team ever to set foot on a football pitch. Still remember Bremner kicking my first idol George Eastham whilst on the ground, and that pratt Jackie Charlton fouling Jim Furnell at a corner for their goal.
    Revie had not ability as a Manager, as proved when he coached England and in Giles, Bremner, Charlton, Madeley and Hunter, just had a team of good cloggers.
    Now – ” Arsenal are nothing special”. Well sir, a little better than your history. 16 year Premier League exile, one quarter final this century, no semi- final since 1987. Get a history then you can shoot your mouths off!

  10. RC78 says:

    I agree about Torreira and the risk of burnout…am hoping that the club will invest in a DM…some of the bloggers mention Declan Rice and Ndidi.

    What about Illaramendi? Javi Martinez? Zakaria? Neves? Thomas Partey?

  11. RockyLives says:


    Johnny Giles was a quality player (and I’m not just saying that because he’s my Dad’s cousin 😀 ).

    He was dirty as heck (like the rest of that Revie team) but he was a top quality creative midfielder as well.

  12. LBG says:

    Inclined in calmer mood to of course agree with the sage, but believe he wouldnt have been so ” creative” without all the cloggers around him to protect. And his dirty play was always sly, behind you back, cowardly. Despite your family link, would never hold him up in recognition of ability ,IMO, of course.

  13. fred1266 says:

    Ziyech aka ozil nah

  14. RC78 says:

    @Fred – if Ceballos leaves, wouldn’t Ziyech be a good option or do you prefer giving Willock, ESR a go at the advanced CM role?

    Ziyech could be a good option, IMHO as Ozil successor.

  15. RockyLives says:

    7.56pm kick off tonight.

    What’s with all these weird kick off times?

  16. Sue says:

    It’s to do with a mental health campaign, Rocky, called Heads Up. I’m all for it 👍👍

  17. RockyLives says:

    Oh – I obviously need to get my head up because it went right over it.

    Very worthwhile.

  18. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the PM RC … VG!

    I’d take your team or Rocky’s. I agree this game will be difficult.

    In terms of priority, I’d give equal maximum effort to the EPL and EL. Another FA Cup would be great, especially in Mikel’s first half-season, but realistically, it’s top flight European football we have to be aiming for.

  19. LBG says:

    Willock and E S-R in central advanced role for me, but this Z would not weaken us and the other two are learning and still young. Keep Dani though if we can.
    Bonne nuit and COYG.

  20. This evening’s programme ………….. getting excited 🙂

  21. Rasp says:

    … thinking about Bielsa being the master of the high press, I do hope we choose when to play out from the bank and when not to … in that respect, I think Martinez is a better choice than Leno, but he’ll get the shout anyway as it’s a cup competition I guess.

  22. Sue says:

    Emirates bound…… 👍

  23. LB says:

    So who made the inch perfect pass for Thierry Henry to make his magic?

  24. LB says:

    What’s wrong with good ol 7.53?

    Why do they have to mess us around so much?

  25. RC78 says:


    Martonez – Sok, Holding, Luiz – Nelson, Douzi, Xhaka, Kola – Ozil – Pepe, Laca

  26. RockyLives says:

    Or Luiz in DM role?

  27. RC78 says:

    Seems Sok is most playing right back…

  28. RC78 says:

    Xhaka sleeping then doing well then messing up… Summing up his AFC time?

    Holding shaky
    Possession 2/3 to Leeds

  29. Rasp says:

    This is really poor. We’re not tracking their runners, we’re not pressing as a team and we’re leaving big gaps for them to play through us.

  30. Rasp says:

    We’re currently playing with 10 men … Ozil off for Martinelli … Xhaka off for Willock

  31. RockyLives says:

    And lots of completely unforced errors. That’s twice now our CBs have just passed to Leeds players in our own half. Bonkers.

  32. RC78 says:

    Holding, Sok, Luiz, Xhaka, Nelson, Douzi, Ozil… What r they doing?

    Best player so far for us is Martinez… Not a good sign

  33. GoonerB says:

    Be interesting what Arteta does with this because this is back to an Emery type performance. All the old faults are on evidence with the same players.

    The Xhaka / Douzi partnership again proving it doesnt work and again proving the importance of Torreira and our lack of options in that position.

  34. RockyLives says:

    On this evidence Leeds will be a handful in the Prem next season.

  35. Rasp says:

    Xhaka is on the verge of a yellow and a liability on the ball …

  36. RC78 says:

    Harrison and Bamford r decent players

  37. RockyLives says:

    I can understand the aspiration of playing out from the back, but I don’t understand trying to do it by passing to players who are clearly marked by Leeds pressers. Asking for trouble.

  38. RC78 says:

    Torreira and Willock for Xhaka and Ozil at half time?

  39. Rasp says:

    Yes, but this is not the game for Ozil, he’s trotting around doing nothing. We need Martinelli’s work rate up front

  40. RC78 says:

    Luiz… Damn it!

  41. RC78 says:

    I think Martinelli will replace Nelson or Pepe around 60th minute

  42. Rasp says:

    Surely not, they’re two of our best players … Ozil is totally ineffective … just not getting involved, this game is too physical for him, he can’t hack it.

  43. RC78 says:

    Leeds playing like they re hosting us at the Emirates

  44. RC78 says:

    Holding is totally fudging it…
    Xhaka and Kola too

    Douzi finally coming alive
    Nelson, Pepe and Ozil are totally absent

  45. GoonerB says:

    Not sure Rasp about Ozil. It feels to me again that the 2 midfielders behind Ozil are too slow, not winning the ball back and not able to bring it out. Ozil cant be expected to cover fir their deficiencies. If they dominate more and bring it out then he gets the ball played into him.

  46. Gööner In Exile says:

    So from this half we can tell that Torreira understands what Arteta wants, Guendouzzi not so much, or maybe not Xhaka, not sure which one is supposed to be more defensive of two? But neither are convincing.

    Also not really helped by lack of a natural right full back.

    Pretty poor in distribution so far from back, again not sure if that is lack of understanding in the midfielders or no natural width from Sok on right.

    If we can’t keep ball and give better ball to attackers then very hard to criticise anyone at the top end of the pitch.

  47. RC78 says:

    Worse half of the Arteta era?
    No positives except Martinez and we didn’t concede goals…

  48. Rasp says:

    Hi GB, if you watch Ozil and no other player and see how ineffective he is when we’re not in possession you will see what I mean. I’m not even expecting him to make a tackle, just join in the pressing and deny them an outlet to pass = get closer to their players

  49. fatgingergooner says:

    Very impressed by Leeds. They’ve done to us what we did to United a few days ago. Energy, in our faces, and great on the ball. Hopefully though, their lack of finishing will cost them. We need to make changes as some of our lot look shattered and we are getting overrun in midfield. Ceballos and Martinelli on for Pepe and Nelson and go 4312. They need Ceballos in the middle to link the play and find Özil further forward.

  50. LB says:

    As GB said, it will be interesting what Arteta does with this, first real test.

  51. Gööner In Exile says:

    Rasp depends what is expected of him in the press. You see no commitment I see someone that is not going to give an easy passing option.

    The press cannot possibly work if our defence is sitting somewhere between our half way line and our 18 yard box. We played much higher against United because we had full backs who could sprint back. Sok is blowing hard out there and doesn’t want to be left in a foot race. Guendouzzi and Xhaka subsequently are not being pushed up the pitch into the passing lanes.

    But only Arteta knows what he has asked of individuals. My guess is we see a higher line second half, and the press will look a lot better as like the United game the passing options will be more limited and we will have more pressure on their defenders with less options.

  52. RockyLives says:

    Better start. Come on Arsenal!

  53. Rasp says:

    Well we can see what effect Mikel has had at half time. Now let’s maintain this intensity for the next 40 minutes

  54. RockyLives says:

    Great from Pepe.
    Well done Nelson for being in the right place.
    That bit of luck feels like the first such that we’ve had for ages.

  55. Gööner In Exile says:

    What a difference 20 yards make.

  56. Rasp says:

    I feel sorry for Holding, he’s miles off of being match fit … in mind and body

  57. RockyLives says:

    Holding is having a pretty bumpy return to first team action.

    Has put us in trouble four times now with bad passing.

  58. Rasp says:

    This ref is very lenient. Maybe he’s reffing by Championship standards. I don’t know how Xhaka has got away without a yellow.

  59. RockyLives says:

    In fairness to Holding, his work in the air has been decent. Just the passing that’s still rusty.

  60. GoonerB says:

    Well, however this game ends up I think it bodes well for the future that we have a manager capable of changing the tactics and dynamic even before making subs and using the same players.

    Martinelli is so exciting and portrays danger every time he gets on the ball.

    Think we have been a bit lucky with Xhaka and Lacazette with the kick out.

  61. Lovely …… 1-0 to The Arsenal 😁 Hard fought victory there and well done to Arteta to get them playing harder second half.

    Anyone fancy writing something for tomorrow?

  62. RC78 says:

    A moment of brilliance from Pepe leading to a fluke goal by Nelson. A good second half after a horrible second half. A tale of two halves. Lucky we didn’t concede in the first half but in the end, we created chances in the second half and we put one in the back of the net – a small yet a big difference when the referee blows the end of the game.

    Martinez – 7
    Sok – 6
    Holding – 3
    Luiz – 5
    Kola – 5
    Douzi – 5
    Xhaka – 5
    Pepe – 6
    Ozil – 4
    Nelson – 6
    LACA – 7, captain that led by example

    Martinelli – 6
    Willock, Saka – N/A

  63. Rasp says:

    Mikel is the messiah … the naughty boys didn’t listen to him before the game …. but they did after half time … Arteta my motm

  64. RC78 says:

    After a horrible first half… Of course

  65. RC78 says:

    Peach – feel free to use my little post and ratings for a match review if you don’t have any volunteers to write a longer piece

  66. Gööner In Exile says:

    Interesting that Laca said Arteta shouted a lot at half time. And Arteta didn’t look that happy in interview post match.

    “I saw how they reacted after Chelsea, and then I saw how they reacted after a United and one win, I have to be on them”.

    Got to love that comment. He told them, they didn’t listen, he told them a little more forcefully.

    The biggest difference was how much further up the pitch we were at the start of the second half. Big difference.

  67. GoonerB says:

    Artetas philosophy was never going to click all the time in every game in the early stages, but I still feel overall that we are above where we should be in such a short time.

    I am impressed by how he changed their playing level and focus and gave them that bollocking. Arteta feels like that manager that will be able to dish it out to the players without losing their respect and allegiance because he does it behind closed doors and doesnt single players out in public, but also he praises them in equal measure when they get it right.

  68. RockyLives says:

    Some fairly harsh ratings RC

    I thought Luiz had a good game (obviously better in second half). He was acting like a captain as well, encouraging me cajoling.

  69. LB says:

    I thought the ref was great, old school, no nonsense, stopped all that rolling around nonsense.

  70. LB says:


    Are you going to do second half ratings as well?

  71. LB says:

    Well, if that was Arteta’s first real test, I thought he passed it with flying colours.

  72. LB says:

    Oh, and Martinelli has become my new bestest favourite player.

    After Mesut, of course.

  73. RockyLives says:

    Yes he did LB. In the post match interview Nelson and Laca said Arteta shouted at them at half time.

  74. fatgingergooner says:

    Regardless of any shouting or Mikel Miracles at half time, the fact is GiE is exactly right in that the shift of the back line 20 yards further up the field was all that was really needed for us to change the game in our favour. It congested the midfield area, put them under pressure, and allowed our talent to shine through in the tighter spaces (which is exactly what Pepe did for the goal). These last few games have shown that we are a far better side when we are compact and the defence, midfield and attack are close to each other. When we get strung out and there are gaps on the field we don’t seem to have the energy or intelligence to cover the ground both in attack and defence. Leeds made us look daft in the first half and it was like looking at an Emery team again. How refreshing it is though to have a manager who is capable of getting his message across to the players and who may finally make them understand that a compact team who work hard for each other is a difficult team to beat.

  75. LBG says:

    Agreed above with GoonerB and GiE re Mesut plus pressed very hard( illegally several times) throughout time on pitch.
    Thought ref was shite, Xhaka and Kola lucky to be on pitch as long as they were, and, at same time, many tackles from behind allowed from Leeds, challenging through the back of Laca, holding/ tugging his shirt.
    Xhaka proving he cannot shield the ball effectively, doesn’t have the pace or skill to prevent turnover by younger and quicker, loudly blames others for his loss of ball.
    Sokratis is not a right back. Holding disappointingly rusty, Nelson improved confidence every game, likewise Pepe.
    I too thought Luiz played OK.
    Mikel shouted because only one thing was required in this situation – more effort and determination than the opposition who had absolutely nothing to lose. If professional footballers dont understand that about Cup games against lower league opponents they dont have the brains to play at this level.

    Taylor did one thing right all game. Penalised Kola for foul throw, which happens regularly in the modern game and should result in £100 fine in the morning. I would like to see whether we ever practise throw in because we dont have any fullbacks who are any good at them.

  76. LBG says:

    Jason Burt’s comments on Radio 5 live. Spot on.
    Too many coasters in first half – turn up and we will win- turn up means work your boll** off, because they will!! Not said enough at Arsenal “for many years”

    “We will love it”, if you change their approach, Mikel as well as the tactics, and if they wont or cant……heave ho!

  77. LBG says:

    I must be watching in another dimension……Football London have an article on ” Granit’s athleticism”!!!?

  78. LB says:

    Sunday follows Saturday…………

  79. Gööner In Exile says:

    FGG it’s not really rocket science is it? The fact is if we are strung out in defence there are too many gaps, if we are.strung out when attacking there are too bigger distances to pass the ball.

    We used to call it cheating, ie if a defender thinks he will be outpaced he cheats and doesn’t squeeze the game up, because he doesn’t want to be found out. By same token if forwards don’t come back to half way when we are defending and therefore it’s harder for them to be found. Cheating their teammates rather than cheating the laws of the game.

    But by being brave enough to squeeze the game you don’t get caught in balls over the top, it also keeps the opposition honest as they can’t leave their teammates exposed. And it should mean as a team you expend less energy. I remember the plaudits of Guardiolas Barca side and someone said they work so hard, but Souness said no they only have to run 5-10 yards, because it’s all done up the pitch.

    As you say if Arteta can instil that in the players we will be enjoying our football for a while.

  80. Morning all

    We have a New Post ………….

    Bound to have cut someone off ………… sorry 🙂

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