According to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, the Yorkshire outfit are set to have skipper Liam Cooper available, whilst Patrick Bamford isn’t far off a return and could yet feature before the end of the season.
“At Arsenal, we might well see a similar tactical plan to the early stages of the game against Manchester City – tight and compact. What wrecked the strategy against City was the concession of an early goal from a set-piece but Liam Cooper is expected to be fit today and his return might help in that respect,” he said ahead of kick-off.
“There’s obviously no Stuart Dallas and Patrick Bamford isn’t ready to return, although it’s very possible that Bamford will feature before the season ends. It feels more and more like Jesse Marsch might have to gamble on him.”
Leeds may have only lost once in their last six outings, losing to defending champions Manchester City last time out, but they still remain firmly in a relegation dogfight.
The Whites sit only two points clear of Everton, who also play this afternoon. If they were to pick up three points against Leicester City, and Leeds were to lose at the Emirates Stadium, then Marsch’s side could well be in the drop zone heading into the final five matches of the season.
Arsenal are firmly in the race for a top-four finish and subsequently, a place in the Champions League next season, so they can’t be taken lightly.
However, having Cooper back in the mix certainly helps their cause.
The Scot had missed a large chunk of the season with a hamstring problem but his return to the starting XI coincided with this recent upturn in form. Indeed, the 30-year-old colossus was part of two clean sheets and five points from three games.
He registered SofaScore ratings of 7.6 against Crystal Palace and Watford, and a 7.1 versus Southampton, prior to his injury in the warm-up last weekend. Cooper had to be withdrawn minutes before kick-off in a gutting and late blow.
Not only will he provide much-needed leadership but no player is winning more headers (4.2 aerials won per game) or interceptions (2.1 per match), as per WhoScored.
His involvement should leave the manager and the travelling Elland Road faithful absolutely delighted heading into today’s encounter. The news surrounding Bamford is also huge, should he make any of their remaining fixtures as his influence up top could be the difference between safety and relegation.
They may only be two points clear but there is now some hope for Leeds supporters.