As for Arsenal, yes, Arteta has had enough. He may be reading things wrong, but it seems to me that he has moved from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3, something I’m sure he planned to do, but from a position of strength, not weakness. He also moves his most likely scorer to center forward I think, but it’s also possible Willian plays as a fake
nine. In midfield, however, Joe Willock finally gets the start that his cup performances have earned; His willingness to shoot, overtake forwards, and generally take risks should add an energy worth the downside of his forward pass. I’m a bit surprised that Bukayo Saka isn’t starting, on the left, but on him, Willock and the midfield, and you would really be talking, but on the right, I think the time has come to give Nicolas Pepe a chance. and see what happens (although we can probably guess).
So what does all this mean? Well, the return of Kalvin Phillips is big news for Leeds, bringing his school bun ratio to 782. It’s not the remotest coincidence that his absence coincided with that pair of 4-1 tousings, not just because he protects a back dicky. four, but because his passing means his team has more ball and creates more opportunities. And Marcelo Bielsa makes another change, handing Raphina her first Premier League start, in place of Struijk.
Leeds United (a 4-1-4-1 pedagogical): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips, Alioski, Raphinha, Klich, Harrison; Bamford. Subs: Casilla, Poveda, Roberts, Costa, Rodrigo, Struijk, Davis.
Arsenal (4-3-2-1 from a sophisticated): Log; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Willock, Ceballos; Willian, Pepe, Aubameyang. Subs: Runarsson, Saka, Lacazette, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Nelson, Nketiah.
The world is strange and people are strange, so it is no wonder that football is strange, that it is played in the world, by people. But it has seldom been stranger than now, and the two teams playing this afternoon are stranger than most.
Few Premier League teams have impressed as much as Leeds this season, which was especially good against Liverpool and Man City. However, the back-to-back 1-4 losses, to Leicester and Palace, indicated a fragility in defense and in mind, and somehow they are now 15th in the table. This is not so impressive.
Meanwhile, Arsenal were so impressively aggressive at Manchester United only to be beaten at home by Aston Villa. More particularly, they are struggling to score and struggling to create, a problem that seems no closer to being solved now than it was in the summer. But maybe that last game will precipitate a change, because although it requires one or two players, the best the squad has to offer is definitely better than this, this being a goal in four league games, and a penalty conceded unnecessarily. Mikel Arteta’s team selection will present their thoughts on this to us.
All of which is to say that this is a really interesting matchmaking with the potential to become a really exciting game. Leeds will take it to Arsenal because that is what they do, and Arsenal could respond in kind because that is what they have been forced to do.
Start: 4.30 pm GMT
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