Although today is lover’s day, there will be no love lost between Mikel Arteta and Marcelo Bielsa when Arsenal host Leeds United at the Emirates in the stand out game of the second day of Week 24.
While many will be savouring Valentine’s Day, for both Arteta and Bielsa what will be upmost on their minds is how to get the three points this evening.
The pressure is no doubt more on the Spaniard than his Argentine opposite number because Arsenal is a more established brand considering that Leeds are just back in the elite league after 16 years in the wilderness.
For Arteta his biggest problem is how to get his misfiring Gunners to show some form of consistency which has seen them beat Manchester United but then lose to Wolves and Aston Villa in their last two games – teams in the glory days of Arsenal would have been cannon folder.
It is this inconsistency that has seen the North L o n d o n outfit languishing in the wrong half of the table for most of the season – the team is currently 11th.
As things s t a n d many Arsenal fans have given up on securing a Champions League ticket by ending the season in the top four and are now just praying for a Europa League outing courtesy of a top six finish!
‘El Loco’, as Bielsa is affectionately called, is under no such pressure because his side is already punching above their weight in 10th spot – the best out of the three promoted sides.
His high octane pressing style of football can pose serious problems for an Arsenal team which has been unable to rectify its defensive weaknesses all campaign.
On Monday night the style again paid dividends when Leeds easily brushed aside Crystal Palace 2-0 at Elland Road to move above their hosts who are 11th. However, playing at home means the onus is on the Gunners to push for a win which might play into the hands of El Loco and his wards.
Other teams not thinking of Valentine today are Southampton, which kick of the fixtures with a home tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester United which it on the road at struggling West Bromwich Albion and Everton, which host Fulham in the final game of the day.
Week 24 concludes tomorrow with West Ham United hosting basement side, Sheffield United and Chelsea welcoming Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge.