Arsenal’s injury crisis? Leeds: Hold my beer.


There’s been a lot of handwringing over William Saliba’s injury and, to be fair, our injury list is reminiscent of the later years under Arsène, but it seems more and more as if Javi Gracia’s squad is suffering injuries at a rate that suggests they’d rather not make the long journey south to face us on Saturday. It also gives us a glimpse into how those who are available may set up against us.

Gracia will arrive without the services of Adam Forshaw, Stuart Dallas, and Tyler Adams, all of whom have been ruled out. He may also have to forgo Maximilian Wöber and Wilfried Gnonto. Heck, even Crysencio Summerville seemed eager to miss the match, getting pulled over and ticketed for driving 45kph in a 30kph zone. While we’ll be missing Elneny, Nketiah, Tomiyasu, and Saliba, we have enough depth to cope. It’s not quite the same story for Leeds, where the dropoff from the first-choice XI to the second string can be quite steep at certain positions.

Among Leeds’s injuries are arguably the club’s best defender, midfielder and forward being on the sidelines. Wöber hasn’t just been good on his own; he’s elevated the play around him, and Adams has been one of their players of the season. Without them, I’d expect Leeds to sit back with eight men behind the ball and hope to spring leading scorer Rodrigo down the right or get a set-piece ball into Bamford. It’s there where we may miss Saliba the most, not to mention we’ve been a bit vulnerable to set pieces lately.

Despite the fact that the reverse fixture gave us quite a scare, that was months ago. More-relevent is that Gracia has brought some stability since his arrival. That hasn’t done much to help them climb away from the relegation battle (they’re two points above West Ham, who have one game in hand), but they’ll likely look to build on that defensive stability and dare us to find a way through that thicket of eight defenders, not to mention Meslier, who usualy turns up against us.

At our end, we’ll probably see Holding deputise for Saliba (put a Diego Costa mask on Bamford and tell Holding it’s an FA Cup final) , but it’s also possible that Kiwior could slot in. Ahead of them, Partey may also be rested, with Jorginho coming up in his place. Given his close control, I’d predict that Trossard will start ahead of Jesus although the Brazilian will probably join the fray on the hour-mark. Even with our own injury woes, then, we should have the depth and versatility to get past our visitors.

Still here? Good. I’ll be repeating this at the end of posts for the next few weeks: enter a raffle for a £25 Arsenal Direct gift card by commenting. The more often you comment, the better your chances at winning. Yes, I’m trying to think of creative ways to boost engagement and build a community. Don’t like it? Tell me so in the comments-section below (heh heh heh…).

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12 thoughts on “Arsenal’s injury crisis? Leeds: Hold my beer.

  1. Kelechi

    Three points are an absolute must, Leeds can be a jammy side and Bamford can pop up with a goal when we least expect him to. By kickoff, we’ll know the Man City-Liverpool result but any result there should give us more motivation.

    1. Mike

      We really shouldn’t have any trouble. Defeating leads when we’re at home. That reverse fixture at Elland Road is a different story altogether. Trossard I should be able to create some openings. Should they park the bus, and I think we will see you Martinelli find the back of the night at least once.

  2. Thom

    You are right when you call Leeds jammy. They might be struggling with relegation, but they do seem to turn up against us. We can’t underestimate them based on their position. All it takes for this one to go sideways is for them to score one goal against the run of play. They will then just park everyone in the box and leave Bamford at midfield and dare us to break them down.

    I really hope we come out strong from the off and convert chances early and often.

  3. Consolsbob

    Leeds? I’ll tell you about Leeds. My first regular season watching Arsenal was 70/71. Towards the sharp end we were 7 points behind them in second place with three games in hand. Remember it was only 2 points for a win then. Very close to the end we played them away and battered them only for Jack Charlton of all people to run half the length of the pitch to score the only goal and send us home defeated.

    However, the rest of that story is a matter of history! Mind you, the next year they beat us 1-0 in the Cup Final.

    Another story, this one personal. I am a Plymouthian by birth. When I couldn’t go to London with my Dad to watch The Arse, I was always at Home Park to watch Argyle. In those days I also turned out every week in the Plymouth Youth League for a team called Lakeside, amongst others. We usually played around lunchtime so we’re able to go to the match afterwards. Both Argyle and Leeds were in the Second Division then, now called The Championship.

    The Saturday Argyle played Leeds at home, I was playing on a pitch beside a path through the park that was the route from the main railway station to Home Park Stadium where Argyle still play. During the game there came upon us the sight of a long straggle of Leeds fans, heavily escorted by mounted Police heading for the game. They were all ‘skinheads’ and kitted out accordingly, cropped hair, ‘bovver boots’, braces and scarves. This youth cult was largely unknown in our City at the time, most of us sporting long hair.

    They were a show in terror. Raucous and aggressive. We stopped playing for what seemed like a long time but was probably only a few seconds and stared at them. I have no memory of the result but that day has stayed with me.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Welcome back, Bob, after all that work with Disqus. I hope you appreciate the redesign.

      Those 1970s Leeds sides were fearsome – I think most Gooners only think of them as “that side Henry scored against on his comeback” or “Marcelo Bielsa’s old club” without consider their deeper history. Your connection to the club or at least that brush with a segment of its fans is fascinating!

      I first became aware of Leeds (the town) from the post-punk outfit Gang of Four, but they came along later than this anecdote you shared with Leeds in Division 2 as you say. Then again, those guys are in their 60s now and probably would have had similar brushes with those fans.

      Over here, I remember similar skinheads but they weren’t associated with any club or sport for that matter — still very menacing even if you weren’t the type they targeted or objected to!

  4. Ekuwa Sarpong

    COYG all three points tomorrow! I want goals from Martinelli, Saka, & Xhaka! And a clean sheet!

  5. Consolsbob

    Your revamp works. Nice job. Reached a workable format at last! My grandfather knew Bob Wall, if you know your club history. Long time ago now….but links remain to the past glories.

    Don’t get me started on punk…I remember a Sex Pistols gig when they played under the ‘nome de guerre’, name of SPOT, ‘Sex Pistols On Tour’. You know that John Leyden is a gooner? He hates the Emirates. I share his preference for soul and Highbury.

    Nice intention, btw, not sure it will work but…

    Also, your site doesn’t remember me. A work in progress.

  6. Jon Shay Post author

    This WordPress seems better than Google although I’ve had to unlearn a lot and relearn quite a lot more. Commenting seems a lot easier, but I do wish people could choose a profile image (or I could set a default). Thanks for sticking with it through its various mutations!

    At any rate, I think I had seen that Lyden was a Gooner at some point or another. I share the affinity for Highbury (although I’ve never been). I love that Art Deco style and (as I think I’ve already mentioned) a big reason for me falling in love was hearing but not understanding the “We are the North Bank/We are the Clock End” chant when I first stumbled across some highlights over here.

    I hope you don’t see this ’til the AM. By my reckoning, it’s approaching midnight over there as I write.


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