Leeds United v Arsenal
Sunday 22 November, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Bielsa and Leeds must find a steely streak
After a 4-1 hammering at Crystal Palace just before the international break, Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa couldn’t even remember how many times his time had conceded four goals in a top-flight match this season (he said it was four times, and then corrected it to three). The Whites have leaked a league-high 17 goals, and while they are already a healthy seven points clear of the Premier League dropzone, there are issues to solve if they are to avoid relegation with room to spare.
Young French keeper Ilan Meslier looks a little bit shell-shocked at the moment, and German international defender Robin Koch was part of his country’s recent 6-0 shredding at the hands of Spain. Bielsa’s side hasn’t yet managed a clean sheet at home this season, but the return from injury of England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips should help. Phillips tore a shoulder against Wolves, and his absence has been keenly felt.
At the other end of the pitch, things are more encouraging. In-form forward Patrick Bamford scored a superb goal at Palace and had another ruled out for the most marginal of offsides, and he has now found the net in five of his eight league appearances. He’ll be aided and abetted by the return of Spanish striker Rodrigo, who is now clear to play after coming out of isolation.
Arteta making bumpy progress
It would be churlish to suggest that Mikel Arteta hasn’t had some success since replacing his fellow Spaniard Unai Emery as Arsenal boss. He has delivered the FA Cup and the Community Shield, there has been an improvement in defence, and the team seems more disciplined on and off the field. Youngsters like Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney are making good progress, and the Europa League campaign has been handled sensibly so far.
However, it would be equally wide of the mark to suggest the Gunners’ garden is full of roses. Arsenal have lost four of their last six Premier League matches, they are four points adrift of the top four, and they have scored just nine league goals in eight outings.
Alex Lacazette is the club’s top scorer in the PL with just three goals, and they were all scored in the first three games. Skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only netted twice, and his preparation for this game wasn’t helped by a bizarre international break with Gabon that saw him and his teammates sleep on an airport floor. Meanwhile Thomas Partey will miss the trip to Elland Road with a thigh injury, and both Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolasinac have tested positive for COVID-19.
Phillips return can make all the difference
Kalvin Phillips is excellent at the base of the Leeds midfield, and his return to the side should make a big difference. It’s worth remembering that Leeds gave Liverpool a scare at Anfield and held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road, so they won’t fear an Arsenal team that has been pretty hit-and-miss in recent weeks. According to Infogol’s Expected Goals stats, Arsenal haven’t posted an xG figure of above 2.0 since the opening weekend of the season, and they have a total Expected Goals For figure of just 10.2 through eight games.
Leeds can be backed Draw No Bet at 2.427/5, which means you have your stake returned if the match is drawn. Alternatively, you can make a more conservative play and back Leeds/Draw Double Chance at 1.768/11, which means you get a winner as long as Bielsa’s side avoids defeat.
If you want to take advantage of the Sportsbook’s Same Game Multi offer (details can be found below), then you could back Leeds/Draw Double Chance and combine it with an Under 4.5 Goals bet at 1.814/5. None of Arsenal’s league games have featured more than four goals this term, and they are likely to play in their usual conservative manner.
Bamford to strike again?
Patrick Bamford looks like a man transformed under Bielsa, and he is a chunky 2.962/1 on the Exchange to further enhance his excellent scoring record at some stage in the 90 minutes. Alternatively, you could be more conservative and back him at 8/11 to have at least one left-footed shot on target on the Sportsbook. Polish international Mateusz Klich has been involved in five PL goals so far, and is worth considering in the To Score market at 4.67/2.
On the Arsenal side, Aubameyang is 2.111/10 to end his drought and 12/5 to have two or more right-footed shots on target, while Lacazette is trading at 2.727/4 to score at any time.