There is no rest for the villains with Arsenal back in action on Tuesday as they prepare to face Leeds United in the EFL Cup round of 16. It will be their third consecutive home game and the third in eight days.
Who needs European football, eh? Midweek is filled with domestic action instead, as the Gunners’ first Premier League draw of the competition so far has spat out a cracker.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are heading to the Emirates with just one win in their last eight games (not counting the penalty shootout success against Fulham as it has more impact that way), while the team from Mikel Arteta is undefeated in her last seven, taking five wins.
The 3-1 win over Aston Villa was the most complete performance of the season and with momentum solidly on their side, it will be interesting to see how strong the manager goes with his starting lineup.
3 things we’d love to see from Arsenal Arteta in their Carabao Cup round of 16 clash with Leeds United on Tuesday night
With a team in the league nearly set in stone every week with a top pick of five full-backs and a near-stand-still four, this game presents itself as a huge opportunity for most.
A balance between competitiveness while giving minutes to those who need them must be struck, as the bottom line is that this competition may prove to be the best chance for Arsenal to win the silverware this season.
The FA Cup won’t start for the club until 2022, when you could be holding that trophy up in the air even before the start of March.
No one would be against another Wembley centerpiece, especially in a competition where Arsenal have lost their last three finals, so what do we want to see from the squad that could bring them a little closer?
1. Intensity adapted despite rotation
Arteta could crush everyone on Tuesday and field a formation almost identical to Villa’s victory. With three full days of preparation for this game and three more to follow before Leicester, he can see the extra games as exactly what he needs.
Not for everyone though, surely, as players like Alexandre Lacazette have been seen with cramps, indicating that the lack of minutes during the season is taking its toll. This might be a slower process for some.
There will be rotation within the squad, and the focus needs to be on breeding this close to the intensity levels that saw Arsenal blast Villa for 60 minutes.
It will be a tough game against a Leeds side playing with a different attacking system and approach which, while coughing up new obstacles, is actually all the more reason to play high-energy football. No team in the division races more than Leeds.
While those numbers did little to help their position in the table, injuries played their part for Bielsa. However, it doesn’t matter what team he puts in place because the non-negotiable elements remain the same. Fail to match their energy levels and you are already limiting your chances of success.
Anyone on the outskirts of Arsenal will have seen Villa’s display and understood what is needed to knock on the door of the first team. Players like Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nicolas Pepe have to watch Friday right after realizing that nothing less will be enough.