Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is expecting a tough game on Sunday against a Leeds United side that has changed considerably under new management.
The Gunners host the Whites this weekend looking to continue their charge towards a top-four finish. The north Londoners sit two points clear of fierce rivals Tottenham heading into the latest round of fixtures. Spurs may have leapfrogged them by the time they take on the Elland Road outfit.
Antonio Conte’s men go up against title-chasing Liverpool on Saturday at Anfield. That will be a tough task for Tottenham as Jurgen Klopp’s side have won 14 and drawn three of their 17 home games this term.
Defeat for Spurs coupled with an Arsenal triumph would all but nail down their spot in next season’s Champions League. Arteta is aware of the magnitude of the match.
And the Spanish tactician, after signing a new three-year contract, predicts that the relegation-threatened opposition will be no pushovers.
“It’s a lot to play for and obviously, the situation that they are in, they are going to show how much they want to get out of that zone as quickly as possible,” he told reporters.
“For us, this is the defining moment of the season after everything we’ve done so we want to capitalise on what we’ve done in the last nine or 10 months.”
Arteta ready for revamped Leeds
The Gunners travelled to West Yorkshire on December 18 and returned home on the right end of a 4-1 scoreline. That triumph was during a four-game winning streak for the Emirates outfit.
Mikel Arteta signs new contract extension with Arsenal
Mikel Arteta has signed a new contract with Arsenal until the summer of 2025.
They have won their past three league games and would love to make it four. But Arteta is not reading too much into the sides’ previous match-up.
“They had a lot of Covid players at the time and they were struggling with numbers,” he added. “We’re in a really strong position at the moment. It will be different.
“Now, the situation is different. They have a new manager, they have changed a few things in their organisation and never two games are the same.”
Jesse Marsch has replaced Marcelo Bielsa in the Leeds dugout. It seemed as though the American coach had guided his charges clear of danger.
But clubs beneath them started to pick up points and a 4-0 loss to Manchester City last time out did not help. It left them in 17th spot, just two points clear of Everton.
But Arteta does not believe that the loss to City will be of concern to Marsch and has tipped them to cause his men problems.
“It’s a game that they change, especially their formation because they never played that before [against Man City],” he continued. “We are aware that they can do either of those. You look at the history of the coach and what he’s done.
“He’s always been very consistent, very defined way of playing and plays a really attractive, in my opinion, way to play football, so I’m expecting something similar.”
Leeds were unbeaten in five games prior to their loss to City and Arteta is right to expect a tricky encounter at the Emirates.