Leeds United face a stern test upon their return to Premier League action when they face table topping Arsenal this Saturday – and Whites boss Javi Gracia has admitted that a strong defensive display is critical if his side are to get anything from the contest.
The Gunners’ form has been immense so far this season – with the North London side putting in consistently impressive performances which has seen them pick up 22 wins out of their 28 league games.
Considering that Mikel Arteta’s side have only lost 3 games this term, and are particularly strong when playing at home, the chance of Leeds emerging from Emirates Stadium with any sort of positive result is admittedly slim.
Leeds can take heart in the fact that the reverse fixture at Elland Road last October – a match which Arsenal won 0-1 – was very much a game which they deserved at least a point from.
Any hope of a draw – or more – on Saturday will hinge on Leeds being compact, organised, and clinical with what few chances they will generate going forward.
This is a fact which Gracia himself is well aware of, as he discussed his approach to the contest in his pre-match press conference today.
“The team is the top of the table and we have to be ready for that. They are doing many things well, it’s a team you can see the stats, they always have against Bournemouth for example, they had 80 per cent of possession. In other games they always have around 70 per cent,” Gracia said (via Yorkshire Evening Post).
“You have to be ready to defend more and then attack. When you attack, be aggressive, clinical, take the chances you have. For sure you need to make a very good defensive work. If you don’t do it you don’t have any chance.”
Leeds travel to Arsenal in 14th place, just two points above the drop zone, knowing that any points gained – albeit unexpectedly – could go a long way in securing their Premier League safety.