Arsenal will take on Leeds United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, with both clubs eyeing a quarterfinal berth.
Arsenal will be looking forward to a midweek game, a routine they have been missing this season as they are not participating in any European competitions. The Carabao Cup games are the only fixtures they have had to play in midweek, and so far, they have won them all.
Mikel Arteta will be eager to land the League Cup this season following unsuccessful attempts by the club in the past. Reaching the quarterfinal will be the minimum target set for their players as they meet Leeds United, who have thoroughly struggled this season.
Arsenal are boosted by their recent Premier League win over Aston Villa at the Emirates, and the north London ground will be the venue again when Leeds come to visit. The Gunners have reached this stage following impressive wins over West Bromwich Albion and AFC Wimbledon in the past rounds.
The visitors, Leeds, have had an indifferent start to the season. With several injuries to key players dampening progress, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have failed to click after an impressive first season back in the top flight. Like Arsenal, the Yorkshire based side are hoping to make it through to the Last Eight stages of the tournament.
In the second round of the Carabao Cup, Leeds were able to dispatch Crewe Alexandra with ease, although they struggled against Fulham during their third-round clash. After finishing goalless through the ninety minutes, Bielsa’s side had to rely on penalty shootouts, winning the spot-kick contest rather narrowly.
Bielsa’s side found it hard to break down a Wolves side this past weekend, managing a draw in the end. They will have to come down to the Emirates with all guns blazing if they wish for a positive result. Arsenal are in good form at the moment, and Leeds are struggling.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta could change his entire team in all probability to give his fringe players a chance to impress. From the Aston Villa victory, probably Albert Sambi Lokonga could keep his place alongside Nuno Tavares. The rest could be replaced for this cup tie.
Alternatively, Lokonga’s position in the side would be dependant on Arteta’s formation style. If he is to play a double midfield pivot, then Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny could get the chance to start in the middle.
Kieran Tierney joined Granit Xhaka on the treatment table. The left-back missed the Villa game with an ankle problem, and Arteta will certainly not risk his star for this cup tie. Tavares, who had a terrific full debut on Friday, will likely retain his place at left-back despite some level of competition from Sead Kolasinac.
Bernd Leno will also get to start in goal, while there could be an entire overhaul of the backline. Rob Holding and Pablo Mari could start in central defence, while Cedric Soares should be selected ahead of Calum Chambers at right-back.
Arteta could rest the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka for Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli to come in their place. Martin Odegaard could probably start, depending on the formation, while Eddie Nketiah or Folarin Balogun should lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares; Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Pepe; Odegaard, Martinelli; Balogun
Leeds have plenty of injury-enforced absentees in the team, who will be unavailable for the trip to Arsenal. Robin Koch, Luke Ayling, Raphinha and Patrick Bamford are the notable absentees.
Junior Firpo, who missed the Wolves game, might be made available from a fitness perspective. However, Bielsa might not want to risk him for the cup game, which likely points towards him missing the encounter. Similarly, Kalvin Phillips also has fitness issues, although the midfielder should be fit to start.
Bielsa could ring the changes to his lineup from Saturday’s game. Tyler Roberts, Crysencio Summerville, Adam Forshaw and Charlie Cresswell are under consideration to start against the Gunners. Bielsa will have no choice but to start Jamie Shackleton and Stuart Dallas in full-back roles for lack of alternative options.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Shackleton, Cresswell, Struijk, Dallas; Phillips; Summerville, Klich, Gelhardt, James; Roberts
- Arsenal are unbeaten against Leeds in their last six games in all competitions.
- Leeds have registered just one win in their last five games in all competition.
- Leeds have not beaten Arsenal since May 2003.
- Leeds have won the EFL Cup just once before, back in 1968
- Leeds have just two recorded victories in ninety inutes all season, once in the Premier League and once in the EFL Cup against Crewe Alexandra.
Player to Watch
In recent weeks, the Ivorian has been sitting on the periphery, with Arteta seemingly preferring to play without him in the side. After missing out on the North London Derby and Brighton clashes, Pepe did start brightly against Palace, only for his form to dip later in the game.
The forward still maintains the chaotic drive in the final third and needs to come good from games such as this one against Leeds, where he is afforded a start. A goal or assist should certainly help the manager consider him again for starting roles in league games, while another bad game would seriously hurt his chances this season.
Arsenal 3-1 Leeds United
Leeds have plenty of injury issues to key players, which has seemingly hampered their season badly. The cup games in midweek come at a terrible time, considering Bielsa’s need to stretch his squad thin. Meanwhile, Arteta has the luxury to name a completely different lineup from the one that beat Villa on Friday.
These things would come to matter when the final results are displayed. Arsenal comfortably have the quality and depth to beat Leeds at the Emirates. Expect a comfortable victory for the north Londoners at the Emirates to see them progress into the quarterfinal.