Arsenal v Leeds: Set-pieces key for Emirates encounter?


ARSENAL host Leeds on Monday night. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) delivers his betting analysis.

Arsenal v Leeds | Monday 6th January 2020, 19:55 | BBC

The FA Cup 3rd Round concludes at the Emirates, as Championship table-toppers Leeds visit the capital to face Arsenal.

Life under Mikel Arteta has got off to a solid start for the Gunners. There were positive signs despite the defeat against Chelsea, but they were better in every department than Man United on New Year’s Day.

The Gunners are the most successful team in this competition and are 12/1 to lift the FA Cup for the 14th time. It’s a difficult tie to start with, but Arteta must be eyeing up this as a chance to earn silverware and lift the mood at the club.

When Arsenal beat Leeds 1-0 in the FA Cup in 2012 is was Thierry Henry with the decisive goal. Mikel Arteta completed a full 90 minutes for the Gunners.

Leeds lacking cup focus?

Marcelo Bielsa only has a small squad to pick from and that was highlighted in their League Cup exit earlier in the season when several academy prospects filled the bench.

In that exit against Stoke, Bielsa had to throw on Ben White, Adam Forshaw and Jack Harrison on at half-time to rescue the situation, before losing on penalties.

Patrick Bamford looks likely to return to the starting XI with Arsenal recalling Eddie Nketiah from his loan spell, while another loanee Jack Clarke has returned to Spurs.

Given the Yorkshire clubs near misses at promotion in recent seasons, surely that’s the overall ambition. When you’ve got a small squad, and a few injuries too, then how keen will they be to progress?

This competition isn’t one Leeds have had too much focus on in recent years. It was a fourth-round defeat in 2017 at non-league Sutton, while the last two seasons have seen exits at this stage.

Two years ago it was defeat at the hands of League 2 Newport and last season they were ousted by fellow Championship club QPR. All three of those defeats have been by single-goal margins, so Arsenal to win by one goal (11/4 Sky Bet) looks about right.

Changes for Arsenal

Arteta is likely to make changes from that win over Man Utd with Dani Ceballos likely to be given minutes after his injury.

While their backline sees Kieran Tierney and Callum Chambers sidelined long-term, there’s another doubt over Hector Bellerin’s fitness.

If Arteta wants to rest his centre-halves then that could see the inclusion of Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding. The latter was only a bit-player under Unai Emery featuring in just the Europa League and League Cup.

He is one name I’d expect to see, plus Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka will all be vying to prove themselves to their new gaffer.

Potential betting angles

Team news will play a huge part in looking at the player props markets, so the first bet is a more traditional market.

Only West Brom (48) and QPR (44) have scored more goals than Leeds (43) in the Championship this season, and each of their last five have seen both teams finding the net.

There have been a couple of crazy matches in their – squandering a 3-0 home lead over Cardiff to draw 3-3, plus the incredible 5-4 win at Birmingham.

Arsenal have the quality, whether they start or come off the bench, to inflict plenty of damage, so their recent cup ties generally being open and high scoring affairs the Over 2 Goals and Both Teams To Score (11/10) with Bet365 looks the way to go.

Of the 21 league goals conceded by Bielsa’s side, nine have come from set-pieces. There’s a definite weakness there and one that Semi Ajayi profited from on New Year’s Day.

Interestingly, the Gunners have scored nine league goals from set-pieces this season with Sokratis the latest after his opener against Man Utd. With Arsenal generally a good side for corner backers, I’m having to take a bit of a chance in the anytime scorer market.

I can’t ignore the price on Rob Holding on that market pre-match. He was an unused sub against United and would be the next in line to prove himself to Arteta.

On price alone, he’s eye-catching, when you compare that to the other Arsenal centre-halves. Quotes of 16/1 with Betfair and Paddy Power look extremely bulbous. His only goal this season did come against a Championship side – Nottingham Forest, League Cup.

The 24-year-old’s 6” 2’ frame could see him targeted by the set piece taker, so he is worth backing at that price, if getting the chance, given the vulnerability Leeds have shown.

Best Bets 

Arsenal v Leeds – Both Teams To Score and Over 2 Goals (11/10 Bet365)

Arsenal v Leeds – Rob Holding to score at anytime (16/1 Paddy Power)

About Author

Matt is a graduate in sports journalism and is currently plying his trade as a content editor for a major betting company. He was bitten by the betting bug when backing horses and continues to do so. His main sporting interests are football, horse racing and darts. Matt is a Stoke season ticket holder and enjoys going to gigs.

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