In action on Monday night under the lights Arsenal host Championship high-flyers Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium for their third-round FA Cup clash, looking to build on an impressive start to the new year.
Good day all. With Mikel Arteta at the helm the Gunners already look a completely different side to anything we’ve endured the past 18 months. With a clear philosophy and understanding of our players he’s just a breath of fresh air to all involved, having lifted so much of the gloom surrounding our great club.
With the Spaniards first victory under the belt the aim now would be to build some momentum off that. What better way than to win here with him well aware that the FA Cup offers us a genuine shot at silverware, and given the history he made clear he will target it:
“We have to be challenging for the cups and we’ll try to that again this season. Obviously it’s a competition very attached to this football club in recent years and we have to take it very seriously.”
However, Marcelo Bielsa’s side will give us a stern test. Leeds are top of the Championship and there’s no question that promotion to the top-flight is their priority, but the Whites will not be getting ahead of themselves after what happened last season, ergo they view one game as important as the next to not let slip the standards they set for themselves.
They’re more driven, more focused and the chance to progress through to the fourth-round at our expense will certainly give them lots of motivation. With quite a few days util their next league match, Bielsa could be tempted to go with a strong lineup.
Be that as it may, with Leeds’ struggles to gain promotion over the years we don’t play them very much. The last encounter was January 2012, also in a FA Cup tie. A close game as Thierry Henry, on his return for a short loan spell, came off the bench to score the only goal of that match 12 minutes from time.
After a gruelling festive schedule Arteta is likely to use this game as an opportunity to give some of the fringe players a chance, to get a better idea of where they are in terms of work rate and adhering to his system, so he will ring in the changes.
Emiliano Martinez, Bukayo Saka, Matteo Guendouzi and Reiss Nelson are all expected to be involved, with fit-again Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos and Rob Holding also likely to come back into the side.
Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney, of course, are injured and Hector Bellerìn will be assessed ahead of the game.
We can expect the Whites to make this as difficult as possible for the Gunners, considering we are not expected to be at full-strength. However, with Arteta having made a big impression in his short time, whomever gets picked are likely to put their best foot forward and provide the grit needed to get us a positive result. COYG.