Leeds manager Jesse Marsch believes that Mikel Arteta is “the most underrated manager in the league” and that Arsenal are genuine title contenders this season.
Arsenal travel to Elland Road this weekend to face a Leeds side that are struggling.
Jesse Marsch, however, has been given the backing of the club despite only winning two games in the league this season.
Speaking to the press before the game, Marsch couldn’t have been nicer about Mikel Arteta.
Initially, he was asked if he thought Arsenal are serious Premier League challengers. “You’d have to say yes,” he said.
“They’ve looked very strong and they’ve recently played a bit against good opponents as well.
“I always like it when teams and coaches improve and grow together and that’s definitely something that’s happened at Arsenal, a club that looked like they weren’t going to be so strong about five or six years ago.
“Now all of a sudden, to be back at the top of the table and playing the football that they’re playing, it says a lot about the commitment that they’ve made as a club to find a process and stick to it.
“Mikel Arteta has done an absolutely amazing job,” the American added. “I think he’s the most underrated manager in the league.
“With a young team, he’s built this up to be really complex, stable, I think exciting to watch.
“He’s done an amazing job and it’s taken him time. He took a lot of heat in the beginning, but I think now you see the fruits of his labour and the fruits of their labour.”
As for Leeds, they’re struggling to score goals this season and held a ‘crisis’ meeting with their attackers this week.
Their main striker, Patrick Bamford, hasn’t found the back of the net since December, which is something of a misleading stat as he has only played 12 times since due to injury.
“We had a good meeting this week with the attacking players,” Marsch said. “Our biggest room for improvement is goalscoring.
“I spoke with them about what we needed from them and how to be more connected in certain moments, how to have more poise in the final third, how to be more individually driven and how to get the balance right in those moments.
“I know he [Bamford] hasn’t scored this season, but for me it’s only a matter of time before everything adds up for Patrick,” Marsch added. “He’s scoring goals in training and in under-21 matches so it’s going to come.
“He’s getting closer to being 100 per cent fit, which he knows he hasn’t been for quite some time. It’s about getting him physically better and sharper around the goal because we know he’s always dangerous and we believe he will be a big bonus for us.”
Arsenal will “rip them to shreds”: Merson gives Leeds prediction
Paul Merson has predicted that Arsenal will “rip them to shreds” when they play Leeds United at Elland Road this weekend as they look to maintain their place at the top of the Premier League table.
Arsenal travel to Leeds United on Sunday with a gap of 15 points between the sides, one more than the gap between Arsenal and their last opponents in the Premier League – Liverpool.
In contrast to Arsenal who seem to have ironed out most of their problems on and off the pitch, Leeds’ boss, Jessie Marsch is fourth favourite when it comes to which Premier League manager will be sacked next, sitting at 20/1 alongside Jurgen Klopp.
If you’re wondering, Steven Gerrard, Ralph Hasenhuttl and Brendan Rodgers are above that pair.
“You’ve got to give credit where it’s due – Arsenal have played very well this season,” former Arsenal man, Paul Merson wrote in his weekly predictions column.
“Over the years, you just wouldn’t know if they’d win this match. I’d be shocked if they don’t win this weekend, and I haven’t had that feeling in several years.
“Leeds will jump out of the blocks at a hundred miles an hour, but Arsenal will eventually take over and rip them to shreds.”
Paul Merson often speaks a lot of nonsense, but it’s hard to disagree with what he says here, although the ‘rip them to shreds’ comments might be taking it too far.
While Arsenal have been flying, they’ve yet to really demolish a side, although some might argue that is overdue.
Arsenal have scored three in the league four times this season and four once. Their 3-0 wins over Bournemouth and Brentford stand as their biggest winning margins of the season, so far.
This will be the seventh time Mikel Arteta has faced Leeds as Arsenal boss. He has already won five, drawing the other, with 13 scored and four conceded. That one draw came at Elland Road in November 2020. Arsenal have scored four against Leeds twice, but were unable to keep a cleansheet in either of those games (4-2, 4-1).
As for the side chasing Arsenal, Manchester City play Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday in a game Jurgen Klopp’s men will be motivated to win to prove a point after losing to Arsenal last weekend.