Arsenal vs Leeds
Arsenal will return to action on Sunday afternoon, taking on Leeds United in a Premier League clash.
The Gunners will 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 on Saturday.
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.
Mikel Arteta on Tierney, Partey & Balogun
Ahead of Sunday’s tie, meanwhile, Mikel Arteta held his latest pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
During the presser, the Spaniard discussed a number of topics, including the fitness of Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney.
It was revealed on Thursday that the pair would both be absent for Arsenal’s trip to Leeds.
When speaking about Tierney on Friday, though, Arteta expressed his hope that the Scottish stopper will be back on the pitch soon:
When someone like him says it doesn’t feel right and that something is wrong you worry because you know how much he wants it as well. He’s in a much better place now, in the last few days he’s feeling better, he’s training, he’s positive, he’s willing to come back early and help the team and hopefully we can have him soon.
His comments regarding Partey, however, were slightly less positive:
He was devastated, we were all devastated because we know the importance of Thomas and we haven’t had him since we signed him, we haven’t had him in three games consecutively. I think he has only played 90 minutes once since he has come back from injury, so it is a big blow for us but he is adapting to the league, he has been very unlucky as well and he is very frustrated because he is a very competitive guy who wants to feel important and be important for the team and at the moment the injuries are restricting a lot of game time for him.
Elsewhere, Arteta was asked if Folarin Balogun will be leaving the Emirates at the end of the season. The young forward is out of contract in the summer, and is yet to pen fresh terms.
Speaking on Friday, though, Arteta revealed his hope that Balogun will stay put:
No, I’m still very positive that Flo is going to stay with us and it’s what we’re trying to do as a club, and it’s what I’m trying to do as a manager. As far as I know from last week, the player wants to be here, so I’m positive. I think he’s made some big progress in a few months.
Quotes via Arsenal’s official website.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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