YEP Jury: Emirates experience will be great day out - but it's all about the league for Leeds United
Our panel of fans look ahead to Leeds United's FA Cup third round clash at Mikel Arteta's Arsenal tonight.
It’s almost a relief to have a break from Championship action; five tricky games in just over a fortnight has left us all emotionally drained! It’s left us still in fine shape on top of the table and nine points clear of third.
The trip to the Emirates in the FA Cup is not without its problems though; chief among them being who on earth do we send out to play?
It has been a perennial problem for us in recent years but Marcelo Bielsa showed his hand last season when his team to face QPR in the third round contained then first-team regulars like Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Forshaw, Alioski and Harrison, together with a similar number of youngsters. He may well do the same this time on the basis that injuries are a constant worry and because surely Arsenal will not play a full strength side as they keep their powder dry for a late surge to try to grab a Champions League spot.
With 8,000 Leeds fans making the trip I hope we at least play a side capable of putting on a show but this game is not the key to a successful season.
Prediction: Arsenal 3 Leeds United 1.
We’ve not been in the Premier League for 16 years and, when we departed, Arsenal were still playing at Highbury.
Tonight still sees us manage to clock up our third visit to the Emirates Stadium and, really, there’s no reason we can’t give a good account of ourselves. If Vayrynen, Townsend and O’Dea can restrict Arsenal to a late 1-0 win and Connolly, Bruce and O’Brien can force a replay then the sky really should be the limit for Bielsa’s Leeds who stand head of shoulders above either of those sides.
Still there’s a nagging doubt over our will to win this. Strangely, Arsenal probably need to progress more than Leeds do and it is being openly admitted in the Leeds fanbase that the promotion hunt takes full priority. With a United team that’s not quite full strength and an Arsenal side buoyed by a new manager and the desire to win something then I think we’ve got a real test on our hands.
I’m plumping for an Arsenal win with United shading the posession stats and having as many shots on goal without the same finishing prowess.
Prediction: Arsenal 3 Leeds United 0.
After seeing out the Christmas fixtures with five points in the bag, Leeds United can now put their promotion aspirations on the ‘back burner’ as they travel to Arsenal in the FA Cup this evening.
Leeds can now put their promotion aspirations to the ‘back burner’ as they travel to Arsenal in the FA Cup this evening. They will do that without the services of Eddie Nketiah who by the time this is printed will probably be on his way to another Championship club, Bristol City the team that were heavily linked with the striker in the summer. It is hoped that a suitable replacement can be found sooner than later.
The Gunners are now managed by Mikel Arteta who recently replaced Unai Emery. Arteta had an impressive career at the club and will be hoping to turn around the fortunes of the club.
Both teams will probably give run outs to players that aren’t regularly in the starting line up. Leeds may give Illan Meslier his first start in goal, other players who may be under consideration could be Jamie Shackleton and Tyler Roberts (if fit), Oliver Casey and Jordan Stevens.
Arsenal will probably use a few of their younger players in their line up.
I love the FA Cup but promotion is the main objective and if Leeds bow out at the third round stage I, for one won’t be that bothered.
I would like the players picked to give their all and give Marcelo Bielsa food for thought with their displays.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Leeds United 0.
Although this game is being hyped as a Premier League rehearsal, everybody knows that neither side will put a full team out.
Will Eddie Nketiah play against us?
Will Patrick Bamford start? If not, who will be the lone striker? Is Tyler Roberts okay? These are the more pertinent questions and most fans will look on this as a good night out and probably the final extension of the Christmas holidays.
Our history there is sparse, just the draw in 2011 and the defeat in 2012.
My abiding memory of both these matches is the quietness of the stadium (apart from the Leeds end of course).
Highbury was a different prospect and probably had the best atmosphere of all the London clubs and often with a team to match.
Therefore as I take my upholstered seat at the Emirates, I will think back to Highbury and the last time Leeds beat the Gunners on their home turf as I make my tongue in cheek forecast.
Prediction: Arsenal 1 Leeds United 4.
Tonight we’ll find out the answer to a question we’ve been asking since last season – how will Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds cope against Premier League opposition?
Championship sides have often stifled the Whites by parking the bus and being defensive, but Premier League sides, Arsenal in particular, play a more open brand of football.
The question is, will this play into United’s hands? Leeds are at their best playing on the break so there should be plenty of opportunities.
The Gunners have struggled recently but may be buoyed by the arrival of Mikel Arteta at the helm.
It’s likely that Arsenal will play a mixture of youth and experience, and Bielsa’s side will smell blood if the team doesn’t work.
It’s the type of game Pablo Hernandez would have relished but Leeds are a well oiled machine with interchangeable parts.
Leeds have done well to stay under the radar this season but winning here would dramatically change that.
Prediction: Arsenal 2 Leeds United 1.