Preview: Arsenal vs. Leeds United

Preview: Arsenal vs. Leeds United

With 13 places and 43 points separating them in the Premier League table, Arsenal and Leeds United resume top-flight action at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Gunners hold an eight-point lead at the top at the time of writing, while the Whites are one of nine teams in danger of demotion to the second tier.

The potential for a new manager bounce at a ground that has typically been kind to them in recent years was seemingly a formula for success for Crystal Palace, but Patrick McCarthy’s time as interim boss was short and not very sweet.

Deservedly taking a two-goal lead into the break thanks to Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli’s strikes, the Gunners ended their Emirates hoodoo against Crystal Palace in ruthless fashion, ultimately prevailing 4-1 as Granit Xhaka and Saka netted either side of Jeffrey Schlupp’s consolation on the hour mark.

With Manchester City busy in their quest for FA Cup supremacy, Mikel Arteta’s side steered eight points clear of the reigning champions at the top of the pile with 10 matches to go, but the Citizens do boast a game in hand and could cut the gap back down with success over Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime.

There was no post-Europa League exit hangover for Arsenal last time out, as Arteta’s side focus all their efforts on the title-run in for the next two months, but the Spaniard was quick to shoot down the sentiment that elimination to Sporting Lisbon in the last 16 was a blessing in disguise.

With their minor February blip now consigned to history, Arsenal are going in search of a seventh Premier League win in a row this weekend – Arteta is yet to hit such a streak since taking the reins – and the title-chasers have also struck at least three goals in each of their last four top-flight contests.

Keeping the back door shut at the Emirates has not been one of Arsenal’s specialities this term, though, and if their trip to Molineux is anything to go by, Leeds certainly know a thing or two about making the net ripple on rival territory.

A crucial relegation six-pointer with Wolverhampton Wanderers saw Javi Gracia’s side storm into a 3-0 lead courtesy of Jack Harrison, Luke Ayling and Rasmus Kristensen, but the hosts threatened a remarkable turnaround through Jonny and Matheus Cunha.

However, after the former was sent for an early bath, Rodrigo bagged the sixth and final goal to settle that enthralling contest, as the Whites picked up their first Premier League away win since October to create daylight between themselves and dotted line.

Leeds travel to the Emirates entrenched in 14th place in the table, but they only have a two-point lead over West Ham United in 18th – such is the volatile nature of the bottom-half standings – and no side from 12th to 20th can consider themselves immune from the dogfight.

Arsenal survived many nail-biting moments to come away from Elland Road with a 1-0 win back in October, and not since the Mark Viduka-inflicted defeat of 2003 – which extinguished any hopes of Premier League title glory – have they been defeated by their Yorkshire counteparts in the top flight.

Arsenal Premier League form:

Arsenal form (all competitions):

Leeds United Premier League form:

Leeds United form (all competitions):

We say: Arsenal 3-0 Leeds United
Neither Arsenal nor Leeds can claim to be in tip-top physical condition for the return of Premier League football, but lightning should not strike twice on the road for the Whites this weekend.

The likely absence of Gnonto will no doubt harm the visitors’ bid to expose Arsenal’s defensive shortcomings at home, and the Gunners ought to break the 70-point barrier with relative ease here.

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