Arsenal are back. Or at least, at this early stage of the season, they look like they are.
The Gunners have won all but one of one of their nine Premier League games so far this year, recent victories over Tottenham and Liverpool banishing any talk that they may be flat-track bullies, and are sitting pretty at the summit of the table above even Manchester City.
Most observers still expect Erling Haaland and co to win the league at a canter this year, but Mikel Arteta's side are currently looking the most likely team to prevent that. Arteta has got players in form all over the pitch, and with their fixture list between now and the start of the World Cup looking pretty appealing, he must be hopeful of making it to the extended break with his team still on top.
They will certainly be favourites going into this weekend's clash at Elland Road, where hosts Leeds United are feeling decidedly less pleased with themselves. Jesse Marsch's men have not won in five matches since a shock 3-0 dismantling of Chelsea in August, and have slipped to 14th in the table despite a positive start to the season.
Leeds came out of the traps at 100 miles an hour at Crystal Palace last week, taking the lead after ten minutes and dominating the early stages, but they struggled to maintain their intensity and ended up losing. If the hosts repeat such a drop-off again this weekend, they are unlikely to find the league leaders any more forgiving than Palace were.
Colombian winger Luis Sinisterra is available again after serving a one match ban and is expected to come straight back into the team.
After making changes to his line-up for the midweek trip to Bodo/Glimt, Mikel Arteta is expected to bring a number of regulars back in to the starting XI at Elland Road, including Gabriel Jesus, Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. Kieran Tierney could come back into the side at left-back after recovering from injury.
Mesiler; Kristense, Koch, Cooper, Struijk; Adams, Roca; Aaronson, Sinisterra, Harrison; Sinisterra
Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus
Leeds – Brenden Aaronson
US international Aaronson has been a big hit at Elland Road so far this season. The winger, a £30 million summer signing from RB Salzburg, has shown his agility and quick feet on several occasions, notably last weekend at Selhurst Park where he created the opening goal by dancing past five challenges before curling a sublime effort on to the post.
Still only 21 years old, Aaronson's talent is undoubted. However, the cat may already be out of the bag - Palace paid notably more attention to him in the second half last week, shutting down his threat by swarming him and preventing him from creating anything meaningful.
If he has already been identified by opposition scouts as one of the Yorkshiremen's main threats, he will be grateful this weekend for the return of Luis Sinisterra on the opposite flank. The Colombian has been every bit as impressive so far this season, scoring twice from just three starts, and Aaronson will surely be happy there is someone else for him to share the attention with.
Arsenal - Granit Xhaka
As Granit Xhaka thundered home Arsenal's third goal in their dismantling of Tottenham two weeks ago, he could have been forgiven for pinching himself.
That goal, in front of a joyous Emirates crowd, completed a remarkable redemption arc for Xhaka. Infamously booed by the home crowd in 2019 and widely dismissed as a flop, nobody could have predicted that he would go on to become a key cog in a side that now sits top of the Premier League table, playing some of its' best football for years.
Xhaka 2.0 is playing as a number 8 in Arteta's side, and is relishing the opportunity to get forward more and affect attacks. He currently ranks in the top 20 percentile among all midfielders in Europe for assists, shot-creating actions and progressive passes.
Leeds like to press ferociously, and Xhaka and his midfield team mates will need to maintain their impressive form this weekend if Arsenal are to get their quick passing game going and emerge victorious.
Where is the game being played?
The match is being played at Elland Road, Leeds.
What time is kick-off?
The game kicks off at 2PM on Sunday, 16 October.
How can I watch?
Despite the game being moved to a Sunday slot due to Arsenal's involvement in the Europa League, the game will not be televised in the UK.