Mikel Arteta will look to overcome Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United tactical masterplan when the two side meet on Sunday.
Arsenal face Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday and will be hoping to get the better of Marcelo Bielsa’s side after a tempestuous affair in November.
The two teams met in a fiery clash which saw Nicolas Pepe sent off for a headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski, with Leeds striker Patrick Bamford revealing that his team-mate is “looking forward” to facing the Ivorian winger at Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Goals are expected and it will almost certainly be another end-to-end counter attacking encounter against a Bielsa team who have impressed with their expansive style this season.
However, Arsenal have lost their last two consecutive league games and are desperate to make amends for a series of results which has seen the momentum they built in the first few weeks of January come to a halt
That said, let’s take a look at three changes Mikel Arteta should make when Arsenal face Leeds on Sunday:
Martin Odegaard hasn’t started a game for Arsenal since joining on loan from Real Madrid last month.
The Norwegian midfielder impressed in his short cameo appearance against Villa and could have netted a second half equaliser minutes after coming on.
With the upcoming Europa League matches against Benfica over the next couple of weeks, it’s crucial that players are rotated and rested to prevent injuries.
Indeed, Arsenal have Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney on the sidelines and they would be better off resting the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe for this one.
Smith Rowe in particular looked tired against Villa and has played a lot of football since starting against Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Odegaard will be keen to grasp his opportunity with both hands as he looks to assert himself in the Premier League.
Solidify the left
Arsenal have a big task on their hands against the in-form Raphina who will look to take advantage of the Gunners’ left hand side without Tierney.
Cedric had a solid few games at left-back but was disappointing against Villa and made a poor mistake which led to the only goal of the game.
He will most likely start on Sunday as Arsenal have no other realistic options except Saka, who is likely to feature in attack or could be rested with one eye on the Benfica match.
Give Pepe freedom
Pepe has played the last five games in all competitions and started to flourish after being given a run of consistent matches.
The Ivorian winger will be even more fired up for Sunday’s match when he comes up against Alioski, who he himself has told team-mates that he’s looking forward to the battle.
“There is a click for him in his mentality, how he is approaching every training session, importance of every action in the game,” said Arteta.
“I really like his attitude. What he’s done in recent weeks has been much better.
“He still has a lot of room to improve and he’s willing to do that so I’m expecting him to go to the next level very soon.”
It’s vital that Pepe is given the freedom to attack and showcase his attacking credentials.
Bielsa knows him well from their short time together at Lille but it could be Pepe who will get the last laugh from an exciting league clash in north London.
Source: Football London