Premier League • England

Rio Ferdinand makes Leeds Utd relegation prediction if changes aren’t made; lauds Arsenal for another ‘tick in the box’

Pundit Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand weighed in on whether his old side Leeds Utd will beat the drop, and hailed Arsenal for doing something they wouldn’t have done in previous seasons.

Leeds started the season brightly, picking up seven points from a possible nine. However, since gameweek three, the Whites have embarked on a dismal run of form.

They’ve drawn two and lost four of their next six. Even more disappointing for Jesse Marsch and co. is the fact only one of those matches has been against a traditional ‘top six’ side.

That fixture came last Sunday when Arsenal escaped Elland Road with a narrow 1-0 victory.

Leeds dominated the xG (expected goals) statistic, returning 1.86 to Arsenal’s 0.55. However, wasteful finishing by Patrick Bamford including a missed penalty blighted their efforts.

The three points cemented Arsenal’s place atop the league table. In turn, the defeat heightened fears Leeds are facing another relegation scrap this season.

Leeds square off against Leicester City on Thursday night, while Arsenal’s fixture against Man City has given way to a rescheduled Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven.

But before the attention can fully turn to those ties, Rio Ferdinand offered his conclusions from the Leeds v Arsenal clash last weekend.

The Man Utd legend – who played for Leeds between 2000-02 – reckons Leeds will survive if they “continue the way they are”.

Marsch is beginning to come under pressure with Leeds’ season in a tailspin, though Ferdinand seemingly saw enough to warrant keeping the faith.

Furthermore, Ferdinand heralded Arsenal for battling their way to three points and suggested that type of spirited and gritty display is something they’d have been unable to produce in prior seasons.

Rio Ferdinand lifts lid on Arsenal team talk

“I’ll give you [Arsenal] praise, you win a game you maybe shouldn’t,” Ferdinand told the Vibe with Five podcast.

“Leeds I thought, if they continue the way they are then they’ll be alright.

“They showed a lot of good signs but you need an element of luck and you need your keeper to play well in those situations as well.

“At the same time, if I’m an Arsenal player in that dressing room, I had many times where you win a game and you think you’re lucky to get away with that.

“It’s another tick in the box and it’s a game Arsenal would have lost two or three nil in years gone by.”

“I’m sure the team talk on Monday would’ve been: ‘Guys, we didn’t play well, there’s a few things to iron out and I’m not happy about this, but the best thing is we would’ve lost that before, we’re making moves in the right direction’.

“I think that’s where Arsenal are at the moment – moving in the right direction.”

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