Injury-hit Leeds looking over their shoulder
While not wishing illness on anyone, Marcelo Bielsa wouldn’t have been too upset had this game been one of those called off this weekend, as his injury-ravaged side lurch ever closer to the relegation zone.
Suffering that heartbreaking late defeat at Stamford Bridge obviously took its toll on a wafer-thin squad as they were ripped apart by Man City in their 7-0 win at the Etihad, and now Bielsa has to prove he can drag his side back up again for another big game.
At least Leeds are back at home after playing two of the toughest away games you can face in the Premier League within three days of each other, and for as poor as they’ve been they’re unbeaten in five at Elland Road, where they’ve lost just twice this season.
Leeds really need to start tightening up at the back, with only Norwich and Newcastle conceding more this season, as their last two wins at home being 1-0s shows what can happen if you secure that clean sheet. But you wonder if Bielsa really has the desire to change his style of play.
Gunners need to solve travel issues
Mikel Arteta’s rollercoaster ride as Arsenal boss is on another up-turn after a win over West Ham put the Gunners into a barely believable fourth place in the Premier League table.
Only Man City have taken more points at home, but away Arsenal have been a shadow of the team they are at the Emirates, with some insipid performances especially in their last three games – all of which they’ve lost when conceding an average of three goals a game.
That lacklustre defending is in stark contrast to the seven wins to nil they’ve managed this season, and it’s highly likely Arteta does focus on the clean sheet first and foremost at Elland Road.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won’t be playing again after his dicsiplinary problems, but Alexandre Lacazette has stepped up and will again take the armband. Going forward they have enough firepower to trouble Leeds, the one worry would be their insistence on playing out from the back, which could prove difficult against Leeds’ press.
Gunners massive favourites
The betting is really interesting in this game, with Arsenal massive 1.910/11 favourites, which is short enough given their stinking away record, and there’ll be plenty taking an interest in backing Leeds at home as big as 4.216/5.
Only Crystal Palace and Southampton can better Leeds’ four hone draws this season, and it’s a tempting 4.03/1 on it ending in a draw – as it did last season at Elland Road.
On form you really should just be able to back Arsenal but can you really trust them as short-priced favourites away from home?
This could easily get out of hand again for Leeds with an early Arsenal goal, but given how quick the games are coming and how both sides needs to stop the rot in their own way, then a safety-first approach could well prevail.
Four of Leeds’ last five home games have contained under 2.5 goals, and while Arsenal’s last three away have gone over they’re actually operating at 50% on the road so far. So, actually, under 2.5 goals here at 2.26/5 may not be the worst bet in the world.
Arsenal’s young Gunners leading the way
Without Patrick Bamford, Leeds rely heavily on Raphinha, and even more so with Dan James picking up an injury against Man City to add yet another name to the lengthy injury list.
The Brazilian is also on the penalties and if anyone’s going to score for Leeds then Raphinha’s your man – and at 4.03/1 as an anytime scorer he’s also a decent value play.
Lacazette will be leading the line and is 2.111/10 to score but the Gunners have been powered recently by England duo Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe – who have assisted each another six times in the Premier League.
Smith Rowe has scored in his last two games now and is 4.67/2 to make it three in a row – he’s also an almost certainty to have a shot on target having only failed to hit the target at Man City and Liverpool this season. He’s 1.758/11 for yet another.
The cards market is another to look out for, as Leeds top the yellow card charts and with the team under pressure and having the home crowd roaring them on, they’re likely to pick up a few more. Over 2.5 Leeds bookings at 2.26/5 is the way to go here.
Ultimately you wouldn’t trust either Arsenal away or Leeds at all right now with your money, so in the match result a draw would be the bet at a big price, but this one is a game for the stats bets and multiples to try and build some value.