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Arsenal vs. Leeds United match thread: crunch time

The Gunners need to win. Simple as that.

FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-LEEDS-STADIUM Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Arsenal host a desperate Leeds United team at the Emirates today in a tricky Premier League test. According to some models, Leeds are now the most likely team to finish 18th and suffer the drop. The Gunners, on the other hand, have a magic number of 9 points either won by Arsenal or dropped by Spurs, to finish 4th and qualify for the Champions League.

This isn’t the same Leeds United side that the Gunners dismantled 4-1 in December, however. That was a significantly injury / COVID depleted lineup coached by the now-sacked Marcelo Bielsa. American Jesse Marsch is now in charge at Elland Road and has steered Leeds to a result in 5 of their last 6 matches (3-2-1). He has the side pressing high and playing better.

To combat that higher press (it seems), Mikel Arteta has swapped Cedric in for Nuno Tavares on the left side of defense. Rob Holding keeps his place, too, with Ben White sidelined with a hamstring problem. Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney are both out for the rest of the season.

The Gunners catch a bit of a break on the Leeds United injury front: Liam Cooper, who some thought might have been set to return, was not passed fit. Leeds have a significantly better points per game average with him in the lineup and concede significantly fewer goals per match, as well. The visitors will also be without Patrick Bamford, Tyler Roberts, Adam Forshaw, Crysencio Summerville, and Stuart Dallas.

Even though Leeds have been playing much better since Marsch took over, the Gunners have no excuses in this one. When you strip it down, it’s an Arsenal side challenging for the a Champions League place against a relegation-threatened side at the Emirates. Arsenal should be winning. These are the types of games you have to win.

Arsenal - Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Cedric, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka, Ødegaard, Martinelli, Nketiah

Leeds United - Meslier, Ayling, Firpo, Koch, Llorente, Phillips, Klich, Raphinha, Harrison, Gelhardt, James

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Leeds United
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Sunday, May 8th 6 am PT | 9 am ET | 2 pm BT
US TV: Streaming on Peacock.

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