Leeds United’s biggest weakness ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Arsenal has been revealed.
Mikel Arteta has the tools to ensure his side takes full advantage at the Emirates Stadium.
The issue throughout the season so far for the Whites has been defending set-pieces.
Last weekend when they were comfortably beaten 4-0 at home by Manchester City, with two of the goals conceded coming via a corner routine with Rodrigo and Nathan Ake the beneficiaries.
As a result, according to WhoScored, no team has conceded more goals from set-pieces this season in the Premier League than Leeds, and former goalkeeper Paul Robinson admits it’s a problem that the players – not head coach Jesse Marsch – have to find a solution to.
“The set-piece situation is difficult,” Robinson told MOT Leeds News.
“You can spend many hours on the training field putting people in positions and organising. But when players cross the white line, you need leaders on the field, organisation and voices in the box.”
“The manager can’t walk on and organise players at set-pieces. Managers spend hours walking through set-plays on the training pitch, and it does become an issue, but it’s the players‘ responsibility to put it right on the field.”
By contrast, Arsenal have been impressive when it comes to defending and attacking set-pieces this season.
Not only are they yet to concede from one in the Premier League, but they have now scored 13 goals via a set-piece routine following Rob Holding and Gabriel Magahales‘ headers in the 2-1 win over West Ham United.
Much of this improvement has been credited to Nicolas Jover, who has proven time and time again this season just how much of a shrewd addition he has been to Mikel Arteta’s backroom staff.
Jover arrived at the Emirates Stadium last summer after leaving Premier League rivals Manchester City when his contract expired at the end of June and took over from Andreas Georgson – who headed back to his native Sweden with Malmo after spending one season with the Gunners – as a set-piece specialist – a similar role he held at the Etihad Stadium.
Of course, during Jover’s time at City, he worked closely with Pep Guardiola, and the Spaniard revealed what Arsenal players could expect from the set-piece specialist in training ahead of his appointment.
When asked how often his players practised set-pieces during the 2019/2020 season, Guardiola replied: “Every day.” The Man City boss has been proven right as Jover’s obvious attention to detail at both ends of the pitch is clear, and he could be the Gunners‘ unsung hero when it comes to unlocking Leeds on Sunday.