EPL

Arsenal v Leeds United: Preview and prediction

By Sports Desk March 31, 2023

Arsenal can see the finish line in the Premier League title race after returning from the international break, but Mikel Arteta just wants his players to enjoy it.

The Gunners are in pole position to end a 19-year wait for the championship, eight points clear of Manchester City – albeit having played a game more.

Arteta's men were also in top form before the season was paused a fortnight ago, and they will be expecting another win at home to Leeds United.

By then, City will have played Liverpool, who could tilt the odds further in Arsenal's favour.

 

But Arteta is trying to avoid worrying about matters elsewhere, explaining this week: "We cannot control the outcome of other clubs.

"All we can control is what we do every single day, how we behave, how we train, how we communicate, how we control our energy, and the messages we send to our people.

"Now, it has to be about enjoying the last part of the season, with enthusiasm, energy and a real hunger to continue to do what we've done and, if possible, better.

"I think we have really good people, and we have really good players. They are curious all the time to improve, learn and be better. It is a joy to work with this group.

"They really follow us and want to please everybody, and they love what they do, love living with each other and playing for each other. I think you can sense that."

Leeds were beaten 1-0 in the reverse fixture at Elland Road, a near-miss that new boss Javi Gracia has no interest in reflecting on.

"We are looking for the next game and focused on the next game," he said.

"For sure we are playing against the team at the top of the table and it will be very demanding for us.

"But to have one option to get a good result, the first step is to believe that you can do it. The team believe that we can do it."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arsenal – Bukayo Saka

Saka was one of the undoubted stars of the international break, with a sublime goal and equally brilliant assist for Harry Kane in England's 2-0 win over Ukraine. That sort of display was in keeping with what the Arsenal winger has produced in the Premier League this season, with no other player in the division joining him in reaching double-figures for both goals (12) and assists (10). Only Erling Haaland (33) and Kane (23) have more goal involvements.

 

Leeds United – Jack Harrison

Harrison has suddenly rediscovered his scoring touch, netting in back-to-back games after just two goals in his previous 29 Premier League appearances. But that is not to say he had not been delivering for Leeds in other ways as the winger leads the way for both assists (six) and chances created (41) among his team-mates.

MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

Arsenal have not lost to Leeds in all competitions since a 3-2 defeat in May 2003 ended their title bid. It will take more than that to stop the Gunners this time, though, and a repeat appears pretty unlikely at Emirates Stadium.

Leeds have won only two of their 23 meetings with Premier League leaders, including losing each of their four such games against Arsenal by an aggregate score of 14-2.

Meanwhile, Arteta's men are on a six-match winning run in the league, their joint-best under this manager. Arsenal last won seven in a row with Unai Emery at the helm between August and October 2018.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Arsenal - 61.4 per cent

Leeds United - 15.7 per cent

Draw - 22.9 per cent

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