Leeds United chief on Whites 'option' at Arsenal, Gunners warning, opportunity and Emirates must

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Leeds United are heading to league leaders Arsenal armed with a strong message of both intent and belief from Whites boss Javi Gracia.

Gracia's relegation-battling side propelled themselves five places up the Premier League table in their final game before the March international break as a 4-2 victory at Wolves elevated the Whites from second-bottom to 14th.

Two weeks on, Leeds return to action with one of the sternest tests in the division at league leaders and odds-on title favourites Arsenal in Saturday’s 3pm kick-off at the Emirates. The contest begins a run of three games in nine days for 14th-placed Leeds who face two huge matches against relegation rivals at Elland Road next week through Tuesday night's visit of Nottingham Forest and the following Sunday's showdown against Crystal Palace.

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Gracia, though, says full focus is on tomorrow’s enormous test versus the Gunners, against whom the Whites boss says his side must believe in order to fulfill the "option” to leave with a good result. Leeds put in a strong display in the reverse fixture against Arsenal in October under former boss Jesse Marsch before falling to a 1-0 defeat but Gracia declared: "All these games you tell me about, in my opinion it’s the past.

INTENT: Outlined by Whites boss Javi Gracia. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.INTENT: Outlined by Whites boss Javi Gracia. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.
INTENT: Outlined by Whites boss Javi Gracia. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

"We are looking for the next game and focused on the next game. For sure, we are playing against the team at the top of the table and it will be very demanding for us. But to have one option to get a good result, the first step is to believe that you can do it. The team believe that we can do it.

"We have a very busy schedule in April but we prefer to put all our energy into the next game and try to prepare as good as possible because if we don’t do it, we don’t have any chance. It’s better to try and give 100 per cent in this game and then we have two days to prepare for the next game.

"To be honest, I am thinking only about Arsenal. I know we have to play important games, in seven days two important games. I think it’s a good chance to get points with the support of our fans. But now we are focused on Arsenal but as I said before it’s the only way to have chances to get a good result."

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Saturday’s hosts hold an eight-point lead at the top of the table although second-placed Manchester City have a game in hand and also still have to play Arteta's Gunners at the Etihad. Despite having jumped up to 14th place, Leeds are still only two points clear of the drop zone and the Whites are as big as 11-1 to leave the Emirates with a victory.

"We are playing against the team at the top of the table and we have to be ready for that," warned Gracia. "They are doing many things well and you can see the stats, they always have. Against Bournemouth for example, they had 80 per cent possession.

"In other games they always have around 70 per cent of possession. You have to be ready to defend more than attack and when attacking you try to be aggressive and clinical and take the chances you have. For sure you need to make very good defensive work. If you don’t do it, you don’t have any chance.”