Bielsa confirms Leeds star in doubt for Arsenal clash that will be different

Date published: Friday 12th February 2021 1:02 - Samuel Bannister

Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Kalvin Phillips is a doubt for Leeds United’s game against Arsenal on Sunday.

The England midfielder will be assessed after being forced off in the closing stages in Monday’s home win against Crystal Palace due to a calf injury.

“There’s not a definite decision at the moment whether he will be able to play or not,” Leeds manager Bielsa said.

“For the moment no player comes back and Kalvin remains a doubt.”

Bielsa will otherwise select his starting line-up from an unchanged squad after confirming both Rodrigo and Pablo Hernandez had not yet recovered from respective muscle strains.

Defenders Diego Llorente (muscle strain), Robin Koch and Gaetano Berardi (both knee) are still out.

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Berardi has yet to appear for Leeds in the Premier League after damaging knee ligaments in Leeds’ win at Derby at the end of last season.

The versatile Swiss full-back rejoined the first-team squad for training this week and Bielsa said he was delighted with his progress.

“Berardi is a player respected by all his team-mates and by ourselves,” Bielsa said. “He’s made a big effort this last six months to recover.

“For all of us, it’s a very happy moment to see him working with the team and from now onwards he will take the necessary steps so that he can start competing again.”

Bielsa expects different Arsenal challenge

Leeds are 10th in the table, one place and a point above Sunday’s opponents Arsenal, who were fortunate to avoid defeat at Elland Road in November.

The Gunners played most of the second half with 10 men following the dismissal of striker Nicolas Pepe for sticking his head in Ezgjan Alioski’s face.

Leeds squandered a hatful of chances and hit the woodwork three times through Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha.

“We have to bear in mind they played half a game a player down, so they were at a disadvantage, so any analysis that is made will not be a balanced one,” Bielsa said.

“We had so many shots, so one of the secrets to win the game (on Sunday) will be to increase our efficiency, which is the case in all our games.”

Leeds are bidding for a fourth win in five league matches and their third straight win on the road, while the Gunners will be hoping to avoid a third successive defeat.

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