Mark Lawrenson backs Mikel Arteta’s Gunners to beat Leeds United 2-0 on Saturday
Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has backed Arsenal to beat Leeds United 2-0 in Sunday’s (May 8) Premier League encounter at the Emirates Stadium. In the reverse fixture, the north Londoners secured a comfortable 4-1 win at Elland Road in December last year.
Mikel Arteta’s side are favorites to secure a top-four finish heading into the final lap of the season. With four games left to play, the Gunners have a two-point lead over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who’ll face title contenders Liverpool on Saturday (May 7).
If Spurs lose against the Reds, Arsenal could stretch their lead to five points with a win over Leeds. That way, they would not have to stress too much about Thursday’s (May 12) north London derby against Spurs.
Keeping Tottenham’s showdown at Liverpool in mind, Lawrenson has asked Arteta and Co. to focus on their clash against Jesse Marsch’s outfit. Dubbing the match as the Emirates outfit’s “biggest game of the season,” Lawrenson wrote in his BBC column:
“By the time they play, Arsenal will know how Tottenham got on at Anfield the previous day and whether a win would send them five points clear of Spurs before the north London derby on Thursday. Whatever Spurs do, though, Arsenal have just got to look after themselves from here on in. The derby doesn’t matter yet – for now, this game against Leeds is their biggest game of the season.”
The 64-year-old commended Marsch for his work at Leeds but thinks the Gunners have the quality to nick a win.
“Leeds have also got plenty to play for, because they have been dragged right into the relegation scrap. They certainly haven’t been short of effort since Jesse Marsch took over, but Arsenal showed against West Ham last week that they can scrap for the points when they have to.”
Leeds United could hand Arsenal a shock in the top-four race
While the Gunners are easily the better team of the two at the moment, it would not be wise to discredit the relegation battlers. Under Marsch, the Peacocks have shown plenty of heart, often playing eye-catching and expansive football.
Considering they’re dangling just a couple of points over the drop zone, despite playing a game more, they’d be desperate not to lose more ground. In light of their eagerness, an upset at the Emirates cannot be ruled out.
To keep the threat of the Whites at bay, Mikel Arteta must shore up his defense and make sure there are no free meals. Nuno Tavares, in particular, has been susceptible at times, which could invite Leeds to attack down the right flank.
A fascinating contest is set to unfold at the Emirates on Sunday.