Arsenal will be hoping to book safe passage through to the FA Cup fourth round when they welcome Leeds United to the Emirates on Monday.
The last of the original ties in the third round of the FA Cup will be played on Monday, before the proceedings for the stage are completed next week with the replays. Monday’s game, though, will witness Arsenal playing hosts to Leeds United, with the Gunners hoping to now string together a run of results.
Arsenal come into the match on the back of a terrific 2-0 win over Manchester United last week, a game in which they thoroughly outplayed their visitors. With Mikel Arteta finally getting his first win as the Gunners’ boss under his belt, he can now look to get the team playing under a definitive identity, which has been sorely lacking for some time now.
Leeds United, on the other hand, are enjoying a fine campaign in the Championship, sitting atop the table on goal difference and looking poised to win promotion to the Premier League. The Whites, though, are not exactly on a strong run of form heading into the game, having managed to win just one of their last five games.
Arsenal and Leeds United last locked horns at the very same stage of the competition, back in 2012, with Thierry Henry scoring an emotional goal on his return to the Emirates, handing the Gunners a 1-0 win. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta has seen his squad’s injury woes ease up to a great extent in recent weeks. Against Leeds United on Monday, the Arsenal manager will have just two certain absentees, with Kieran Tierney (shoulder) and Calum Chambers (knee) being long-term absentees.
Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Martinelli are still on the return trail from their respective hamstring injuries, but are in contention to feature when Leeds pay Arsenal a visit. As had been customary under both Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery in recent years, the cup competitions are reserved for fringe players as well as those looking to make a return from a long layoff.
Emiliano Martinez has been the goalkeeper of choice in cup games, and should start against Leeds on Monday. In front of him, the defence should see an almost entirely new look, with Bellerin making his return. Bukayo Saka should start as Arsenal’s left-back, affording Sead Kolasinac a rest.
Sokratis could be the only defender to retain his place in the backline and at the heart of the Arsenal defence, he ought to have Rob Holding as his partner. Up ahead in midfield, both Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira are due a breather, and should be replaced by Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock.
Eddie Nketiah has returned from a loan spell at Leeds but is unlikely to face the Whites, with Arteta confirming that a second temporary move beckons the youngster. Martinelli should, thus, lead the line for Arsenal, with Dani Ceballos playing off him. Ceballos will likely be flanked by Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe, with the latter likely to take up central positions, much like Ceballos.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Saka; Guendouzi, Willock; Nelson, Ceballos, Smith Rowe; Martinelli
As iterated earlier, Eddie Nketiah will not be up for selection after being recalled by Arsenal from his loan spell. Other than the young striker, Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa only has a couple of injury concerns ahead of the FA Cup third round tie, with Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw out injured.
Bielsa, meanwhile, has confirmed four of the starters for Leeds United against Arsenal, with young defender Robbie Gotts and teenage custodian Illan Meslier set to make their debuts. Gotts, though, is likely to be deployed in midfield, with Bielsa previously stating that he sees the 20-year-old as a number 8.
With Gotts likely to start in midfield, Luke Ayling ought to line up as Leeds’ right-back, in what is likely to be a 4-3-3 formation. On the opposite flank, Barry Douglas is a confirmed starter, with Ben White set to have Gaetano Berardi as his central defensive partner. Meslier, as iterated earlier, will start between the sticks.
Alongside Gotts in the middle of the park, Bielsa should name Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich, with the latter sitting at the base of the three-man midfield. The three midfielders will hold the key for Leeds, moving the ball forward and linking up with the wide men, who will aim to be direct in the final third.
Manchester City loanee Jack Harrison will be one of the two wide men in the final third, with Helder Costa starting on the right wing. The duo will cut in to create overloads in the central areas, with the full-backs supplying the width. Patrick Bamford will lead the line against Arsenal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Meslier; Ayling, White, Berardi, Douglas; Gotts, Phillips, Klich; Costa, Bamford, Harrison
- Monday’s third round fixture will be the 17th FA Cup match between Arsenal and Leeds United, and the first since January 2012. Leeds are winless in six meetings with the Gunners – losing five of them – since a 3-2 victory at Highbury in the Premier League in May 2003.
- Arsenal have progressed from the FA Cup third round in 22 of the last 23 seasons, with their only failure coming in the 2017-18 season against Nottingham Forest.
- This is a seventh successive FA Cup away tie for Leeds United. The Whites have lost the last three, including at National League side Sutton United and Newport County of League Two.
- Arsenal are the most successful side in the competition, having lifted the FA Cup on 13 occasions.
- 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.
Player to Watch
After a strong start to the season, Ceballos has endured quite a struggle. A drop in form has been followed by a long injury layoff, which is set to end against Leeds United on Monday. A strong showing is much needed for the Spaniard, especially in the wake of Mesut Ozil’s fantastic performance against Manchester United.
In the deeper slots, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka seem to have nailed down their places, meaning Ceballos needs to produce something extraordinary to compel Arteta to make him a regular going forward. A big game for the Real Madrid loanee, as the second half of the season begins.
Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United
Arsenal looked a completely different side against Manchester United, but make no mistake, the players still have the tendency to make the odd error, which ought to keep the pressure intact. So, Leeds United should fancy their chances on Monday, although if the defence can remain organised, a difficult evening beckons Marcelo Bielsa & co.
There are plenty of Arsenal players who will have a point to prove, which should drive them to produce game changing performances. Expect a keenly contested affair, with Leeds in it for large stretches. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Mikel Arteta & co.