Sky Sports pundit Lewis Jones has predicted Leeds United will suffer a third consecutive defeat when they welcome Arsenal to Elland Road this weekend.
Ahead of Leeds’ second clash with the Gunners in 2020 after a 1-0 FA Cup defeat at the Emirates in January, Marcelo Bielsa has seen his side lose 4-1 at the hands of both Leicester and Crystal Palace.
Leeds’ soft under-belly has been exposed and stats by WyScout show the Whites now have the highest expected goals against (xGA) stat than any other team in the Premier League [16.59].
Arsenal, on the other hand, have had a patchy start to the Premier League season, winning four and losing four of their opening eight matches.
They suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat against Aston Villa – a team who Leeds beat 3-0 away from home – at the Emirates in the last match before the international break.
Sky Sports’ betting expert Jones cannot see past Arsenal winning at Elland Road on Sunday due to Leeds’ poor defensive record and has tipped Mikel Arteta’s men to win 2-1.
“We all love watching Leeds, who have never previously lost three consecutive League games under Marcelo Bielsa,” Jones wrote on the Sky Sports website.
“But that might be about to change.
“Bielsa’s boys’ mixed start on their return to the Premier League can be underlined by the defensive issues that have been apparent since their opening day defeat at Liverpool. Whilst no side outside the current top seven have scored more than Leeds’ 14 goals, they have the joint-worst defence in the Premier League, along with West Brom.
“With Leeds being sexy in attack but vulnerable at the back, they are the type of opponent Mikel Arteta has a habit of being able to deactivate.
“On the outside, Arteta looks to bred from the same stable as Pep Guardiola but there’s more chance of him being related to Sam Allardyce judged on his desire for the defence.
“The difference in this one may just well be Arsenal’s summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes, who has settled in quickly and in assured fashion, bringing a much sought-after composure to a defence that has come under regular criticism in recent seasons. His threat in the opposition box shouldn’t be underestimated either against a side that have shipped eight goals from set-pieces this season.
“I can foresee a very tactically astute Arsenal win in a style very similar to what Leicester did to Leeds in their 4-1 victory.”
Leeds have not won against Arsenal since a 3-2 victory at Highbury in 2003 when Harry Kewell, Ian Harte and Mark Viduka were on the scoresheet for the away side and Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp bagged for the Gunners.
This weekend’s match between Leeds and Arsenal won’t be as star-studded as that occasion but it’s still a big game for two teams who have shown a lot of inconsistency since the start of the new season.
Leeds have shown they are capable of producing some truly fine performances and can expose almost any team in the league with their attack.
However, that gung-ho approach leaves the Yorkshire clubs open at the back, which is why they have the joint-worst defensive record in the league and have conceded eight goals in their last two games.
Arsenal are a lot more conservative than Leeds United and are likely to be even more rigid this weekend after the shocking defeat to Aston Villa.
This game could go either way in our opinion but we don’t see both sides keeping clean sheets due to the way Leeds attack and the way they defend.
In other Leeds United news, this pundit has shared a major update on the future of Erling Haaland which concerns Leeds.