A first clean sheet in two months as Leeds United subjected the fans to a dull 0-0 draw at the freezing cold Majeski was quickly forgotten as Liam Gallagher and Surge Pizzorno drew Leeds another timely reminder of Premier League life with a trip to the Emirates in the FA Cup third round.

Not only does the clash offer us another reminder of the division we’re so desperately trying to return to, but it’s also another reminder of how long it’s been since we last played there. Our last game against Arsenal was at their former home Highbury in April 2004, when a quickly fading Leeds United were thrashed 5-0 by the Gunners. A certain Frenchman named Thierry Henry – who has now cashed in with a move to the MLS – almost single-handedly destroyed us that day with four goals.

This time last year of course, we landed another dream draw with a trip to the old rivals in Manchester. That particular encounter ended with a 1-0 win to the Whites as our then third tier heroes humiliated Alex Ferguson’s men.

Whilst the draw undoubtedly draws similarities to that inspired victory at the start of this year, I won’t be expecting a similar result against Arsene Wenger’s side. The best we can hope for is that Leeds United go out and assert themselves physically on the rather light-weight Arsenal side that are much more comfortable playing pretty football. This is an Arsenal side clearly missing Patrick Viera’s influence; a player who could single handedly scrap it out with other teams when they insisted on playing tough – without that kind of figure, Arsenal always appear vulnerable against more physical sides.

If we can limit their time on the ball, then you never know – maybe we can cause another shock? But a more realistic outcome would be similar to the humiliation they dealt us last time we met.

Whatever happens, the draw is a win-win for Leeds United. Clearly there’s the monetary aspect which will be keeping a smile on Old Ken’s face for the next month or so, but the tie also offers an ideal measure of where we are in terms of building for a Premier League return. A total annihilation at the Emirates would tell us Simon Grayson has a lot of work to do before we’re ready to compete in the Premier League once more, whilst another surprise shock would suggest we’re not as far away as some might think.

20 Responses

  1. Matt BB

    it would be great to win ant arsenal, but I for one want our focus to be on finishing in the top 6, probably makes me a killjoy doesnt it!

    And as much as i loved beating Man U last year the havoc that it wreaked is arguably only just wearing off!

  2. Tim Wilsom

    I’d prefer us to thump em and get knocked out in the next round by Northampton

  3. Gryff

    @TSS btw minor correction: it was Noel Gallagher, not Liam :-)

    I agree with you on not thinking we can get much of a result, but that said Fabregas is out for a while now and Arsenal have chronically underperformed against smaller teams in European football frequently over the last few years. A lack of motivation would certainly mirror Man Utd’s problems against us last season. Let’s just hope for 2-3 more first-team injuries, or for Wenger to give his youngsters a chance having under-estimated us!

    • Craig

      Have I missed something Mike – Has Grayson been sacked in the 24 hours I’ve been away from home? What is the cause of the unheard-of implication that Larry will get the better of the tactical battle with Wenger? Or maybe you don’t rate Arsene either?

  4. Tim Hodge

    I’m chuffed with this draw.

    I was half expecting us to draw another championship club or a Wigan or Birmingham – unglamorous clubs that would probably beat us.

    I’m expecting us to be comprehensively beaten but it’s acceptable away to Arsenal. It’ll be a hell of an occassion and after it we can focus on the league.

  5. AcresLeeds

    I think playing against the Arsenal kids might well be the more difficult tie for us to be honest if Wenger treats it like a Carling Cup tie !!

    Whatever the position, I can’t wait because this would have been my number one tie if given a choice.

    It’s all a win win win situation for the club and fans in my eyes.

  6. les irwin

    some of the tickets are quite pricey £47 downwards plus getting there just beore crimbo and in a recession LOL
    see kasper made it into team of week he must have been lucky according to ian harte moaning on the reading site “hunty had loads of chances but schmeicel was lucky enought to be in the way to stop em” what a tosspot like i said does that mean he was lucky that the keepers were unlucky not to be in the way when he takes his free kicks and scores

  7. Bill

    1) last time we played there we had ‘Dubes’ on Henry, a mismatch made in hell squared

    2) will Viera be a Leeds player by then? oh no, we have not forgotten the pledge to streak!!!

  8. Bill

    and… does anyone have the text of the Sky ‘fanzone’ commentary when we beat them 3-2 with Viduka scoring the winner, it was a gem, a real classic….

  9. Tim Campbell

    Was at that 5-0 drubbing at Highbury courtesy of my gooner cousin, a season ticket holder. The fans that were sat around me knew something was wrong when he was’nt in his usual seat – I eventually owned up to the truth and was shown a great time by the gooners around me. Of course the fact that it was 5-0 and Henry was on fire that night probably helped lol

  10. Dirty Leeds Blog

    Arsenal are desperate for any trophy at the moment, the chances of them risking an early exit in the FA Cup by playing youngsters is slim

    • les irwin

      i think he means he will keep obrien and mcartney though but it is a bit of a worry i also think it will change if we get injuries too but i agree if they stay fit there is no point getting more

  11. Mike

    It means I am trying my best to raise my confidence levels in Larry, that’s all.
    The latest news from him on not strengthening in january simply reinforces my set in concrete beliefs that larry is just a bates toady, all he wants is to keep his job.

    • Craig


      Reinforced concrete eh? Is that how you made your fortune and ‘retired’ to a sunnier climate?

  12. Gryff

    @Matt i’m not. I didn’t expect more than 2-3 signings in January anyway, which is more or less what Grayson’s limited himself to in that interview.

  13. Matt BB

    I’m less worried about this, we’ve trimmed our squad today cancelling Robinsons contract, and will no doubt lose Johnson too, I would also be looking over my shoulder if I were Nunez or Faye.

    I suspect we will see a `rebalancing’ of the squad, and would tend to agree with graysons comments about the depth of the squad.

    We have an embarassment of riches in terms of strikers and attacking midfielders, I cant imagine he will allow the defence to crop up as an issue again, and expect to see O’Brien made an offer to stay, and probably mccartney, at the expense of the players mentioned in midfield.


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