Arsenal vs Leeds
Arsenal are back in Premier League action very shortly, when they will play host to Leeds United.
The Gunners head into the tie no doubt desperate to end their mini dip in form.
Mikel Arteta’s men had of course been on a solid run until recently. But, after a questionable dismissal in their meeting with Wolves, went on to lose both at Molineux, and in their subsequent outing vs Aston Villa.
Such defeats have seen Arsenal slip down to 11th in the Premier League table.
The north Londoners are also now nine points adrift of a Champions League spot, with the majority of the sides above them boasting at least one game in hand.
As a result, if the Gunners have any hope of even securing a Europa League spot this term, they really need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.
Beating Leeds, however, is easier said than done. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have been let down by some questionable defending this season, but they can give any side in the English top-flight a run for their money when it comes to attacking prowess.
Why Holding was benched
So, Arsenal’s fans were no doubt keen to see a strong starting line-up unveiled an hour prior to kick-off.
And, in fairness, Mikel Arteta has fielded a fairly solid, attack-minded side, with Martin Odegaard handed his first start as a Gunner:
📋 Our team to face Leeds…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 14, 2021
The Arsenal faithful, though, were also likely surprised to see a couple of players in particular only make the bench on Sunday.
The duo in question come in the form of Nicolas Pepe and Rob Holding. The latter has been one of the capital giants’ most consistent players this season, whilst Pepe appeared to finally be finding his best form in recent weeks.
In turn, speaking ahead of Leeds, Arteta appeared to provide an explanation for one of the two – Holding – being dropped to the bench.
When asked if the stopper was a bit unlucky to miss out, the Spaniard hinted that Holding is instead being rested for Arsenal’s meeting with Benfica in the Europa League on Thursday:
“Rob has played a lot of minutes, we have four games in 11 days and we’re going to have to rotate our players. So he’s played so many minutes already in this season, and we’re going to need him in the next games.”
Mikel Arteta explains his changes as an attacking Arsenal side look to climb into the top half of the table
📺 Watch Arsenal v Leeds on Sky Sports PL pic.twitter.com/5ade3Edglt
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 14, 2021
And though Arteta didn’t specifically mention Pepe, it feels safe to assume that the same reason was behind the Ivorian being dropped to the bench on Sunday.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
Arsenal betting odds, next game:
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