Arsenal vs Leeds news: Gunners can get a grip on top four

Mikel Arteta’s Champions League-chasing Arsenal host a Leeds side fighting for their Premier League lives who have lost their last four visits to the Emirates.

Arsenal have guaranteed European football for next season after beating West Ham last week booked them a place in the Europa League, but they're chasing the big one.

The Gunners have spent five seasons out of the Champions League as they struggled to find the right players or manager, but after Mikel Arteta signed a new contract on Friday, it appears he's the man to take them forward.

Arsenal at least look to have a plan and transfer strategy and Arteta's young side have a top four finish in their own hands with a north London derby still to come.

Burnley's magnificent recent run and even Everton starting to find form leaves Leeds in big trouble, with their shocking goal difference just adding to their problems.

When: Sunday 8 May, 2022 (14:00 BST)

Where: The Emirates Stadium

How to watch: Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Main Event

Follow this game via our score centre

Who is the referee for Arsenal vs Leeds?

Chris Kavanagh has the whistle at the Emirates in what will be his first time taking charge of an Arsenal game this season - and his third time as referee for a Leeds game.

Leeds have lost the first two games Kavanagh has been in charge of, and have seen nine bookings and two penalties against them, so he hardly holds fond memories for Leeds fans.

Kavanagh was in charge at Stamford Bridge for Leeds' remarkable 3-2 defeat at Chelsea when Jorginho slotted the two pens given against the visitors, although Kavanagh did also give Leeds a spot-kick which Raphinha converted.

He averages just under four yellow cards a game in the Premier League and as mentioned he's not scared to point to the spot - handing out six penalties in those 15 matches.

Games refereed by Chris Kavanagh in season 2021/22: Games 15, yellow cards 56, red cards 2.

Recent form

It's a remarkable run of form Arsenal have been on recently, having lost to Palace, Brighton and Southampton, they've followed up by beating Chelsea, Man Utd and West Ham.

They've been in total control of a Champions League spot, tumbled out of contention then jumped right back up into pole position.

Goals have started to flow but more importantly they've been showing character to get the job done as all three of their recent wins could have gone either way during tough spells in the game.

Jesse Marsch looked to have turned things around with late winners against Norwich and Wolves and a 3-0 win at Watford highlighting a five-game unbeaten run.

A couple of draws and then heavy defeat against Man City though have put them right back in the firing line - mainly due to Burnley's astonishing run and Everton's home form.

Leeds had spells against City but were undone by sloppy play at set pieces which has blighted their season - as nobody's conceded more than their 23 goals from dead ball situations this season.

They'll need to improve on a woeful away record at the current top six sides, with five defeats and an average of 4.6 goals conceded per game so far.

Players in form

Bukayo Saka has two goals and an assist in his last three games to take his tally to 11 goals and six assists in the Premier League this season - he's now starting to grow into Arsenal's main man.

Eddie Nketiah is getting his chance up front and responding well with two goals against Chelsea and two well-rounded displays since, even without a goal.

Martin Odegaard is starting to have more and more influence on this side, but in defence too they're looking tougher as Rob Holding and Gabriel looked solid - and indeed both scored against the Hammers last time out.

The centre halves could be eyeing more goals here given how bad Leeds are at defender set plays.

Raphinha remains the main man for Leeds despite just one goal and one assist in his last nine, and he's been outscored recently by Rodrigo who has three in six.

Kalvin Phillips is nearing full speed now after playing successive 90 minutes in his third and fourth games back from injury, while Jack Harrison has been productive of late with three goals in five.

Past meetings

You have to go back to 2003 for the last time Leeds beat Arsenal in any competition - with a 3-2 victory coming in the Premier League at Highbury.

Since then Arsenal have won nine of their 11 meetings with two draws, one of which being a surprising 0-0 draw at Elland Road last season when Nicolas Pepe was sent off.

Arsenal have scored 10 goals in their last three meetings, conceding just three, with the last two Premier League contests ending 4-1 and 4-2 to the Gunners.

Gabriel Martinelli scored twice, with Emile Smith Rowe and Saka grabbing the others either side of a Raphinha penalty in an emphatic 4-1 Arsenal win at Elland Road earlier this season.

Managers thoughts

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: "There is a lot to play for. Obviously the situation they are in but it's a defining moment in the season for us after everything we've done over the last 9/10 months. We want to capitalise on what we've done.

"Lots has changed since we last played them. They had a lot of Covid players at the time while we were in a really strong position. They have a new manager and changed a few things in their organisaton and never are two games the same."

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch on how they'll stay up: "No idea what it will take. All I care about is each match and right now that is Arsenal.

"I know from a media perspective people like to write about emotion and momentum, but when you are in this business you know the job is preparing to perform, eliminating things like the media that get in the way of doing our jobs."

Predicted teams

Ben White is pushing for a return, but Arteta may decide not to risk him given how well Holding played alongside Gabriel at West Ham.

Arteta could well opt for the same starting XI from the London Stadium, as although Emile Smith Rowe could come back in, Gabriel Martinelli also played well.

Eddie Nketiah should keep his place up front against the side he played for on loan.

A long-term injury to Stuart Dallas is a massive blow for Leeds in a season full of injury problems for their big players.

There are more headaches for Marsch to deal with - including whether to risk Patrick Bamford yet or save him for what could be the crucial final three games.

Arsenal possible starting lineup: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares; Xhaka, Elneny; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah

Leeds United possible starting lineup: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Struijk, Firpo; Klich, Phillips; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; James

Arsenal vs Leeds prediction

It's hard to see anything other than a home win for Arsenal here given just how poor Leeds have been away from home against the big sides this season.

Only Liverpool and Man City have won more points at home and after beating Chelsea, Man Utd and West Ham only complacency could really stop them picking up another three points.

The weight of Champions League expectation may play a part of course, especially if Leeds can start brightly and even take the lead, then it could get interesting.

Marsch hasn't yet managed to cut out the individual errors and collective poor marking at set plays that undermines a lot of good performances elsewhere on the pitch.

The way Leeds have been playing, they'll offer up too many chances to get anything out of the game.

READ MORE: Mikel Arteta signs new Arsenal contract

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