Arsenal vs. Leeds United Preview

Fa Cup

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Published: 12/12/2011

Arsenal will face off against Leeds United for the second consecutive season in the F.A Cup third round on January 9 as boss Arsene Wenger seeks to begin yet another quest for silverware which has eluded the Gunners for over six years.

The Premier League big boys will certainly have a major scrap on their hands against a tough and talented Whites side who are themselves in contention to return to English footballís top table after an encouraging start to their campaign in the Npower Championship.

Twelve months ago, Arsenal saved themselves from a crushing defeat at home to Leeds courtesy of a last gasp Cesc Fabregas penalty which forced a replay at Elland Road.

After proving to be more than a match for their star studied opponents at the Emirates stadium, a valiant Leeds succumbed to a 1-3 loss in front of their home fans and were powerless to stop a rampant Arsenal team despite a 25 yard pile driver from now Norwich City player Bradley Johnson.

Should the Gunners end up in a sticky situation again this time around, they will have to rely on somebody else to pick up the pieces following Fabregasís transfer away from the club to Barcelona in the summer.

That man is likely to be hotshot Holland striker Robin Van Persie, who has been Arsenalís inspiration so far this season after a more than disappointing opening in August and September.

The Dutchman has already fired in fifteen goals in the current campaign and that tally is set to be bolstered further as he continues to enjoy the form of his life.

He will undoubtedly relish the prospect of scoring once more against Leeds after sealing Arsenalís replay win in January and Simon Graysonís men will be on red alert in order to prevent him from causing significant damage.

Van Persieís form has indeed lifted the whole club out of the mire. And since their embarrassing 8-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester United, Arsenal have been looking more like their old selves, stroking the ball around with confidence and finding the net frequently without shipping too many goals at the other end.

Leeds on paper probably have a better side than the one that nearly upset Arsenal twelve months ago, however with promotion to the Premiership their main priority, they could well be vulnerable to the hosts who will do anything to stop the clubís search for honours.

An early goal is crucial in this match and if Arsenal can find it, Leeds must surely be in for a long night.

The visitors will have to sit deep to try and frustrate Arsenal and potentially hurt them on the counter attack Ė which they are more than capable of doing with players such as Jonny Howson, Lloyd Sam and Robert Snodgrass in their ranks.

At likely odds of around 4/9, there is not a great deal of worth or value in taking Arsenal to progress at the first time of asking, especially considering Leedsís efforts against them twelve months ago.

Nevertheless, the Gunners should make it through at the first time of asking and with both teams in rich scoring form in their respective divisions, an open encounter looks likely.

Leeds can easily get themselves on the score-sheet however it is Arsenal who should be too strong over the course of ninety minutes and they can cover a one goal handicap at odds of around 6/4.


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