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Arsenal vs. Leeds United: Predicted Lineup, Bench & Score

Will the Gunners be one of the few teams to see action this weekend?

Arsenal v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Beating West Ham was crucial in the race for fourth, but even more impressive is the manner that the Gunners did so. They looked lively from the start and could have won by a much bigger margin. Now with momentum on their side and a favorable slate of four matches coming up, it could be a chance to shake those struggles on the road. However, with cases surging in England and matches being called off each day, Arsenal’s progress may come to a sudden halt.

Meanwhile, Leeds United are coming off a 7-0 thrashing by Manchester City and are suffering massive injuries - Kalvin Phillips, Patrick Bamford, Daniel James, Liam Cooper, Jamie Shackleton, Rodrigo, and Pascal Struijk. They currently sit 16th in the table, just five points clear of the relegation zone, and will be under huge pressure to respond as they return to Elland Road for the match this weekend.

If you missed our Q&A with SB Nation’s Leeds United site Through It All Together you can find that here. Will we even see the Gunners in action Saturday? And if so, what wins out between Arsenal’s form, Arsenal’s road woes, and Leeds’ injury crisis?

Predicted XI

Bench

  1. Arthur Okonkwo
  2. Nuno Tavares
  3. Rob Holding
  4. Calum Chambers
  5. Mohamed Elneny
  6. Albert Sambi Lokonga
  7. Gabriel Martinelli
  8. Pepe
  9. Eddie Nketiah
  • Left Out: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Pablo Mari, Cedric, & Folarin Balogun.
  • Out: Bernd Leno & Sead Kolasinac (left ankle).
  • Circumstances strongly point to little rotation for Saturday. First, the team has won two in a row and controlled much of the match against West Ham. Second, if this match even gets to take place, it could be the last one for Arsenal for a few weeks. Third, if matches continue up next is the Carabao Cup quarterfinal at home against Sunderland. The likes of Pepe, Nketiah, Tavares, Sambi, and Holding can all step in for that one. Unless there are fitness/injury concerns, why change it?
  • The one place I have changed is the left side of the attack. Martinelli, who has really flourished lately after a tough season last year, had to exit Wednesday’s match early with a knock. I’ve opted to rest him from the start for Saturday’s game in order to bring in Emile Smith Rowe from the start, who looks to have recovered from his own setback a few matches ago. Martinelli has earned another start, but given the circumstances I’d flip them, to allow Smith Rowe the first hour or so and Martinelli on in the second half.
  • Mikel Arteta has confirmed that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will remain unavailable for selection this weekend and there haven’t been any updates yet that Bernd Leno is recovered to the point where he is back on the bench. Perhaps both can find their way back onto the pitch for the Sunderland tie.

How to watch

Saturday (12/17) at 12:30 pm ET / 9:30 am PT on NBC.

Prediction

Arsenal - 2

Leeds United - 0

If these matches remain on the schedule it could be a massive two weeks for Arsenal. Leeds, Norwich & Wolves are nine winnable points. Getting two road victories and maintaining their strong position in the race for fourth place would be a great boost heading into the potential New Year’s Day clash with Manchester City. Add on top of that the chance for the players who’ve been sidelined to the bench to potentially see Arsenal through to the League Cup semifinals and all that adds up to a lot of positive for the club — if somehow all these matches take place, which is seeming doubtful with each passing day. Fingers crossed for at least a road win at Leeds before possibly a few weeks without English football.