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Leeds Live
Leeds Live
Beren Cross

Leeds United could unleash new attacking outlet and make an easy improvement vs Arsenal

A better start?

As first impressions go, Leeds United’s could not have been more catastrophic on their last trip to Emirates Stadium. The Whites, fighting relegation on that occasion too, were 2-0 down inside 10 minutes and then a man down within half an hour.

It was an afternoon which bore all the hallmarks of a side doomed for relegation. Right when they needed to keep things tight and stick in the game, they crumbled when rivals Everton were picking up points on the other side of the country.

Very few are expecting the Whites to win this game, but if they could start with at least retaining 11 men and a clean sheet beyond half an hour it will be progress.

READ MORE: Javi Gracia's Crysencio Summerville expectations as Leeds United winger tipped for key role

How does the defence shape up?

Max Wober’s injury opens the door in defence for somebody, but could Javi Gracia even be tempted to change his formation given who’s available and the opposition? Liam Cooper or Pascal Struijk seems the straightforward debate for the head coach and the former’s status should mean he starts this afternoon.

However, a back three may not be out of the question. We saw how flexible Gracia was willing to be in the right circumstances at Molineux and Struijk’s inclusion would unleash Junior Firpo down the left flank on the counter.

Rutter’s time?

Crysencio Summerville seems to be everyone’s favourite for replacing Wilfried Gnonto in attack after his promising cameo on the other side of the international break. However, there is the small matter of the club’s record signing ready and waiting for a go from the off out wide.

Georginio Rutter has been working with Gracia throughout the break, having been overlooked by France’s under-21s, and would hope to be a little more effective from a wide position. His last start for Leeds, as a lone striker at Chelsea, did not go well.

One eye on next week?

Gracia, understandably, could not be seen to be looking beyond today’s game in any way, shape or form. However, the rest of us know full well what awaits Leeds around the corner.

That Elland Road double-header with Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace is a major opportunity to cement themselves towards the top of that bottom-nine battle. Rodrigo and Luis Sinisterra, the club’s best returners for minutes-per-goal this season, have already been teed up for bench service by Gracia in London.

How their minutes are managed will be crucial to not only sneaking a result over the Gunners, but also in ensuring they are best prepared for next week’s critical games.

Revenge for Elland Road?

If you were looking for any positive omens to cling onto before 3pm, simply look back on the first Arsenal game this season. While Mikel Arteta’s side were a lot further away from the league title than they are now, the circumstances were similar.

The Whites were winless in five and Arsenal had won eight of their opening nine league fixtures. Nobody was giving Leeds a chance and yet they played out of their skin in a match they deserved to win.

In keeping with much of this season, United lost the game, but Arteta admitted Arsenal had got away with one. In football, you never know.


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