The key areas Leeds United must focus on to gain victory against Arsenal at Elland Road

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Jon Mackenzie runs All Stats Aren’t We, a Leeds United media channel that focuses on the tactical and statistical aspects of the game.

In January, Leeds United got an early taste of life in the Premier League when they travelled to the Emirates to face Arsenal in the FA Cup.

Leeds gave a good account of themselves, outplaying the eventual winners of the competition in the first half and only losing out to a late goal.

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On Sunday, we’ll get to see a return fixture of sorts as Mikel Arteta’s side make the trip to Elland Road. The questions on everyone’s lips will be: how much has changed since January? Will Leeds still be able to cause Arsenal problems?

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips battles with Arsenal Granit Xhaka. (Getty)Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips battles with Arsenal Granit Xhaka. (Getty)
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips battles with Arsenal Granit Xhaka. (Getty)

Despite the heightened expectations of Arteta’s return to the Emirates, the Spaniard has failed to impress in the Premier League. This will be an interesting test for both sides and should operate as a bellwether for both team’s seasons.

Here are three aspects of Arteta's system to look out for on Sunday afternoon:

Positional play

Like his former boss, Mikel Arteta likes to see his teams possessing the ball, building up from the back and manipulating space to create overloads that cause problems for oppositions.

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Even if we see the 3-4-3 formation on Sunday, look at how Arsenal’s structure will shift around, the left-sided centre-back, Kieran Tierney, often pushing forward into a full-back role and the left-wing-back, one of Bukayo Saka or Ainsley Maitland-Niles, moving central to help out in the build-up phase.

At times, Arsenal can even look like they’re playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Leeds’ man marking off the ball should help them to cope with this fluidity, though.

Which formation?

This season, Mikel Arteta has tended to set his team up in a 3-4-3 formation in a bid to add an extra player to his defence. No doubt this was in response to Arsenal’s poor defence the season before.

On top of this, Arteta saw first hand what counter-attacking sides can do against teams who play high-possession football when he was at Man City.

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Arsenal can deploy a more progressive 4-3-3 formation too, though, so keep an eye on the line-up on Sunday to see which of these options Arteta goes for.

Who can possess the ball?

The big question of Sunday will be: which team can possess the ball?

We know that Marcelo Bielsa likes to see his side dominating possession and so, given that Arsenal will look to do the same, the game will likely hinge on who manages to achieve this dominance.

If Leeds can disrupt Arsenal’s build-up play with their aggressive high press and, perhaps more importantly, keep a hold of the ball when they win it, then they might enjoy the game on Sunday more than their rivals.

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