Arsenal-Leeds United Preview
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa promised to keep fighting during a seemingly impossible period as his side prepare to host Arsenal on Saturday.
Leeds are on the brink of breaking point, with seven first-team players out injured and Junior Firpo suspended, having been demolished by Manchester City 7-0 on Tuesday.
The Whites are five points above the relegation zone, but that could be cut to three by Sunday, yet Bielsa was in fighting spirits as he addressed his news conference on Thursday.
He said: "Do you think I'm so vain that I don't think I can be sacked?
"Do you think that there's a coach that can't be sacked, that is unsackable?
"Of course I'm going to continue fighting until the end of the season. Listen to what I said before, that I said I always think that upon adversity you always have to fight. You never know if the strength is going to be enough and what is the progression of the difficulties that we've come up against.
"Having said that, I'm going to fight until the end of the season without any doubts and I hope that nothing happens that doesn't allow me to act what I've just said."
Arsenal broke into the top four with a 2-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday, without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - who was dropped and stripped of his captaincy for a disciplinary breach.
Gunners manager Mikel Arteta confirmed Aubameyang would not feature again at Elland Road, while praising Martin Odegaard.
"No, (Aubameyang) is not available for selection," he said.
"He's (Odegaard) getting very close to his best level and the ceiling for him, I don't know where it is because of the talent he has and desire he has. We've got a tremendous player there.
"He's a natural leader. If you look for the perfect professional he would not be very far from there."
Leeds United - Raphinha
Given Leeds seemingly never-ending list of absentees, it is hard to name a key player. However, the Whites will still have Raphinha - who has seven goals in 15 Premier League games so far this term.
Arsenal - Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka has assisted 23 goals since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, more than any other Arsenal player in that period.
·Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six away games against Leeds in all competitions (W4 D2) since a 1-0 loss in November 2000. Meanwhile, the Gunners haven't conceded more than once in any of their last 13 trips to Elland Road, since a 2-1 loss exactly 28 years ago today (18th December 1993).
·Arsenal have won 10 of their last 13 away league games against Yorkshire sides (D1 L2), with both defeats in that run coming against Sheffield United. It's more victories than the Gunners had managed in their previous 49 league visits to the county (W9 D17 L23).
·Leeds are unbeaten in their last five home league games (W2 D3), having picked up just one point from their first three at Elland Road this season (D1 L2).
·Arsenal have lost their last three away league games, conceding more goals in this run (9) than they had in their previous nine on the road combined (8). The Gunners last lost more consecutive away league games between January and May 2018 under Arsène Wenger (7).
·Leeds have lost their last two Premier League games, conceding as many goals in these defeats (10) as they had in their previous 10 league games combined. The Whites haven't lost three consecutive games in the top-flight since April/May 2004, a run that included a 5-0 loss against Arsenal.
Updated December 17, 2021