By Bulldog Drummond
- Leeds v Arsenal: For Leeds the start of this season is the same as the end of last season
- Leeds v Arsenal. After 9 games Arsenal are doing better than in the unbeaten season
- Leeds v Arsenal. Leeds can foul with far fewer consequences than Arsenal.
Apologies are nice. Apologies are good. They show that the person making a mistake, or being very foolish, can admit the error. Most of us accept sincere apologies and think more of the individual for making the apology.
But so far in terms of what the media said last season, and in the run-up to this season, I haven’t seen any. Which I suppose is typical of the UK media. Mostly they wouldn’t know decent behaviour if it lept up the kicked them in the face.
Consider: “Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tipped to be first Premier League manager sacked next season” That was the story run in all seriousness by the Express newspaper on 14 June this year.
Today their headline is “Arsenal star Bukayo Saka gives honest verdict on title hopes ahead of Leeds test,” implying that quite often he gives a dishonest verdict, which is a pretty grotty thing to imply. There’s no apology for their suggestion that Arteta would be the first manager to be sacked this season.
Moving on, Sky Sports today runs the old favourite:
Jesus expected to return
And yes it is an old favourite for the same sequence of four words in relation to Arsenal can be found in Sky Sport, 16 January 2018,Sky Sports 12 February 2022, HaytersTV 12 Jan 2018,Si.com 18 February 2022, the Sun 16 October 2022,Yahoo news 14 October 2022, Goal 15 October 2022, and Football.co.uk two days ago. And finding that lot took about 5 seconds. Does these journo characters have no imagination whatsoever. Or are they all so desperate for the Second Coming, that they just grab at any straw?
But of course it’s not the long-awaited and oft-predicted second coming, when unbelievers like me will be cast aside into the pit. Rather as the Express says a little later, “Gabriel Jesus will return to the Arsenal squad for the trip to Yorkshire having been rested for the Europa League victory over Bodo/Glimt. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been missing with a muscular issue and will be assessed ahead of the game.”
Sports Mole as ever have a team prediction. One can only hope that it is more relevant to reality than their pre-season prediction for Arsenal which read, “With Manchester United already looking like a side reinvigorated under Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils could very well pip Arsenal to a top five place and force the Gunners to try to go all the way in Europe. VERDICT: 6th.
White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu;
Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;
and they predict a result of Leeds 0 Arsenal 2. There’s no mention in the preview of their forecast of Arsenal’s end-of-season position.
The Hard Tackle offer the same team but suggest slightly different positional formations
Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu;
Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka;
Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
And these two variations of the same line-up appear time and again. See for example here.
But in criticising the media for being so focussed in the summer on Arsenal not making it into the top four this season, we really ought to give credit to The Short Fuse which ran a series of predictions which included Arsenal in the top four. In fact in a series of comments by their writers the predictions were of four third-place finishes and a fourth-place finish. So hats off to them.
Even the Leeds-focused media such as Leeds Live think this could be a tough one for their local club. They reported on two predictions… Chris Sutton gives the result to Arsenal with a 4-1 win. Paul Merson suggests it will be 0-3 to Arsenal. And Lewis Jones of Sky gives it as Leeds 2 Arsenal 4. So if it turns out to be a 0-0 draw they are going to look a bit silly. But in truth, I would agree that looks rather unlikely.
However, Arsenal have not dominated Leeds in history as much as one might imagine winning 51, drawing 33 and losing 41 but the recent run has been rather pleasing:
|1 Nov 2003||Leeds United v Arsenal||W||1-4||Premier League|
|4 Jan 2004||Leeds United v Arsenal||W||1-4||FA Cup|
|16 Apr 2004||Arsenal v Leeds United||W||5-0||Premier League|
|8 Jan 2011||Arsenal v Leeds United||D||1-1||FA Cup|
|19 Jan 2011||Leeds United v Arsenal||W||1-3||FA Cup|
|9 Jan 2012||Arsenal v Leeds United||W||1-0||FA Cup|
|6 Jan 2020||Arsenal v Leeds United||W||1-0||FA Cup|
|22 Nov 2020||Leeds United v Arsenal||D||0-0||Premier League|
|14 Feb 2021||Arsenal v Leeds United||W||4-2||Premier League|
|26 Oct 2021||Arsenal v Leeds United||W||2-0||League Cup|
|18 Dec 2021||Leeds United v Arsenal||W||1-4||Premier League|
|8 May 2022||Arsenal v Leeds United||W||2-1||Premier League|
So there we are – everyone expects an Arsenal win.
And just as a reminder, here’s the league table showing the Big Seven and Leeds,,,
- Day by Day the videos – An Arsenal video for (almost) every day of the year in order.
- On this day in history: three years after the double, Arsenal heading for relegation.