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Six years and a new hairline – the formula for Rob Holding‘s first Premier League goal according to Aaron Ramsdale – as Arsenal’s centre-backs stepped up to steer their side to a third consecutive Premier League victory at the London Stadium over West Ham.
Drafted into the side to cover for the injured Ben White, Holding headed home his maiden Premier League goal before Jarrod Bowen restored parity not long after, but the Gabriel Martinelli–Gabriel Magalhaes combination allowed the latter to fire his own header past Lukasz Fabianski in the second period.
As Mikel Arteta – who has just signed a new deal with the club until 2025 – honestly admitted, the manner of Arsenal’s victory was certainly “ugly”, but consecutive wins over West Ham, Chelsea and Manchester United means that fourth spot is still in Arsenal’s hands as they sit two points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, who could temporarily rise into the Champions League places with a shock win at Liverpool.
Furthermore, Chelsea’s own struggles has seen Arsenal cut the gap to their third-placed adversaries to just three points, but while they have averaged three goals per game in their recent hot streak, it is now six Premier League fixtures without a clean sheet for the formerly steadfast Gunners defence.
Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey‘s absences have of course had a large part to play in that, but Arsenal have only accumulated fewer points than Liverpool and Manchester City on home soil and cannot afford a hit to the confidence before the impending North London derby.
A tight hamstring was given as the reason for Ben White’s absence in the win over West Ham, and his place in the squad this weekend is still in slight doubt despite his return to training, so Holding can feel confident about his chances of another start after a man-of-the-match showing at the London Stadium.
Takehiro Tomiyasu was taken off with cramp in his first Premier League start for four months but should be fine to go again here, while Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey remain out for the long term.
Despite failing to find the back of the net, Eddie Nketiah put in another impressive showing last time out and should hold his place over Alexandre Lacazette, while Martinelli could once again be given the nod over Emile Smith Rowe.
As for Leeds, Marsch has been rocked by the news that Stuart Dallas is facing a lengthy period on the sidelines due to the femoral fracture which he sustained at the end of the first half against Man City.
Dallas is being kept company in the treatment room by Adam Forshaw, Crysencio Summerville and Tyler Roberts, and Marsch is not expected to take a risk on Patrick Bamford just yet either. However, Liam Cooper is expected to be available for the Whites after shaking off a knee knock.
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Luke Ayling should shift across to right-back with Dallas now sidelined, which could see Diego Llorente drafted into a defensive-heavy setup or Daniel James recalled to the attack for the visitors.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tavares; Xhaka, Elneny; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah
Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Firpo; Klich, Phillips; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; James