Mikel Arteta makes Leeds United prediction before Arsenal clash and Jesse Marsch style admission

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is expecting something very different second time around against Leeds United this term, and likes what he sees under Jesse Marsch.

By Lee Sobot
Friday, 6th May 2022, 5:39 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 5:41 pm

Arteta's side romped to a 4-1 victory at Elland Road in the reverse fixture back in December but in very different circumstances, Leeds then coached by Marcelo Bielsa and having a whole team of players out including several with with Covid-19.

Five months on, Arteta expects Sunday's showdown to be a different proposition and the Gunners boss has revealed his admiration for the style of football played by Marsch who was appointed at the end of February after Bielsa was sacked.

In what was his eighth game in charge, Marsch deviated from his usual 4-2-2-2/4-2-3-1 system and lined up with a five-man defence in last weekend's hosting of Manchester City which ended in a 4-0 defeat.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

RESPECT: For Leeds United and their American head coach Jesse Marsch from Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, above, pictured after December's 4-1 victory at Elland Road. Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images.

Arteta, though, is braced for either eventuality on Sunday afternoon and a Leeds outfit determined to ensure Premier League survival.

"It's a lot to play for and obviously, the situation that they are in, they are going to show how much they want to get out of that zone as quickly as possible," said Arteta at his pre-match press conference, as quoted by football.london.

"For us, this is the defining moment of the season after everything we've done so we want to capitalise on what we've done in the last nine or 10 months."

Arsenal endured a torrid start to the season under Arteta but December's victory at Elland Road sent the Gunners fourth, albeit with the sides below them having games in hand.

Arteta's men are now just four games away from sealing Champions League football for next term, the London outfit two points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and only three points adrift of third-placed sliders Chelsea.

Leeds, meanwhile, are desperately fighting to avoid the slide down to the Championship, the Whites fourth-bottom but only two points ahead of third-bottom Everton who have a game in hand.

December's defeat to the Gunners left Leeds 16th at the time under Bielsa.

"I think we started the game really, really strongly," said Arteta, asked about the progression his side showed at Elland Road.

"It's true that the context was different. They had a lot of Covid players at the time and they were struggling with numbers.

"We're in a really strong position at the moment. It will be different. Now, the situation is different.

"They have a new manager, they have changed a few things in their organisation and never two games are the same."

Pressed for his thoughts on United's style, Arteta reasoned: "It's a game that they change, especially their formation because they never played that before [facing Manchester City].

"We are aware that they can do either of those.

"You look at the history of the coach and what he's done.

"He's always been very consistent, very defined way of playing and plays a really attractive, in my opinion, way to play football, so I'm expecting something similar."