Clues for Javi Gracia’s thought process going into Leeds United’s trip to Arsenal can possibly be found in their last trip to the capital. While Chelsea are experiencing nothing like the domestic success of the Gunners this season, the dots can be joined on the Whites going away from home to an expensively-assembled quota of stars.
In short, Leeds are big underdogs and, like the Blues, Arsenal are expected to put United under sustained pressure on Saturday. Gracia did not deviate from the 4-2-3-1 at Stamford Bridge we have seen in all of his league games, so the same looks likely at Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard is also likely to be loyal to those who saw off Wolverhampton Wanderers in their last game. At least as far as he can be around injuries.
Pascal Struijk and Liam Cooper have seen roughly the same amount of competitive pitch time since early February, but the latter’s seniority surely makes him a natural Max Wober replacement. Weston McKennie and Marc Roca have already had 90 minutes together in Tyler Adams’s absence, so that should continue assuming the former has not been laid low by his USA flu and fever symptoms.
Gracia’s admission Luis Sinisterra and Rodrigo are not yet in their best condition was a clear nod they should be expected on the bench from the start on Saturday. It leaves Crysencio Summerville and Georginio Rutter in a straight fight to replace the injured Wilfried Gnonto.
The former was where Gracia turned at Molineux and Summerville was very handy in that late cameo. In the absence of an accomplished dribbler like Gnonto, the Dutchman feels like a more natural option on the counter in London.
Predicted line-up: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Firpo; McKennie, Roca; Summerville, Aaronson, Harrison; Bamford.