By Danny Carrington
Last Updated: 6th January 2020
The final tie of the FA Cup third round sees Arsenal host Leeds at the Emirates. Just 11 spots separate the two sides as first in the Championship travels to 10th in the Premier League and here’s our preview of the game on Monday evening.
Arsenal showing signs of improvement under Arteta
Though we are still in the infancy of Mikel Arteta’s reign at Arsenal, there have been definite signs of encouragement under the Spaniard, particularly in the Gunners’ last two matches. They were in control for large periods against Chelsea before their defensive vulnerability came back to haunt them as they squandered a 1-0 advantage to lose 2-1.
It’s clear this is a side, particularly in defence, that is lacking in confidence but Arteta seems to have instilled a new found belief in his side and they showed that when comfortably seeing off Manchester United last time out. United were dreadful, but Arsenal were much better than they have been for the majority of this season and things look to be slowly improving for the Gunners.
The north London club are 2/5 favourites here to see off Leeds.
Leeds inching closer to Premier League return
The visitors, Leeds, head into the New Year with a nine-point gap over third in the Championship as they seek a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004. Marcelo Bielsa has had his fair share of off-field drama, but on the pitch he has created a side that is comfortably one of the best in the second-tier of English football.
Bielsa is not always the most orthodox, but he is very well-versed in what it takes to gain promotion and he’s done well to make sure last season’s disappointment hasn’t affected his players. Given the huge gap between themselves and third-placed Brentford, it’s unsurprising they are just 1/20 for promotion, while they are 1/2 favourites to win the Championship title.
Leeds didn’t make much progress in the Carabao Cup this season, losing in the second round on penalties to Stoke, and you’ve got to think Bielsa will be keen to progress here, particularly with the nine-point advantage they hold in the league. His side are 6/1 for victory on Monday night, with the draw available at 4/1.
Goals on the agenda at the Emirates
Given Arsenal’s defensive frailties and Leeds’ attacking prowess (they’ve scored in every game since a 0-0 draw to Sheffield Wednesday in late October), this one has the feel of an entertaining affair with plenty of goalmouth action.
Arsenal are 11/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season and just 1/100 not to, so you’d think Arteta will want to play a fairly strong side in the FA Cup as this represents an opportunity at silverware. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette up front, the Gunners should have enough for Leeds, but they still look poor at the back so Leeds should get on the scoresheet. Arsenal to win and both teams to score is 13/8.