Leeds ready for the top?

Leeds United were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal in the FA Cup

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Are Leeds United ready for the Premier League?

By Joe Harker

Leeds United have been one of the most interesting clubs in England to follow since manager Marcelo Bielsa took over.

They didn't quite get out of the Championship last season, coming in third place and failing to progress through the playoffs, but they could do better this time around.

They're top of the league at the moment and although you should never count chickens before they hatch (Leeds know all about promotion attempts collapsing late in the season) it might finally be time for them to get back into the Premier League.

If they do, how ready would they be to stay up on a long term basis?

The Claim:

Although they lost 1-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup the manner of their performance was such that it convinced many Leeds are good enough to be in the Premier League.

Getting promoted is no easy task and staying in the Premier League is even harder, so many clubs that have stormed to the top of the Championship have suddenly faltered once they reached the top division in England.

One of the benefits of a cup game against a Premier League opponent is providing a good barometer for how the club might fare once they're facing that calibre of opponent on a regular basis.

Leeds's ability to dominate Arsenal in the first half is a good sign, even if the Gunners wrested control of the game back after half time.

They look well coached by Bielsa, which is something that cannot be said of many Premier League teams that appear to have a shakier grasp of their manager's plans than Leeds.

The Counter Claim:

However, it's just one game and Arsenal did indeed regain control of the game after half-time.

A promising opening 45 minutes in a game you ultimately lose doesn't mean you'll be good enough to stay up in the Premier League.

Many clubs look good in the Championship and wilt after promotion. Last season Norwich City won the Championship and picked up 94 points along the way, now they're bottom of the Premier League table with 14 points from 21 games.

It can be very difficult to judge exactly how a club will do once they make it to the Premier League. Some players will shine and others will utterly fail to impose themselves once the challenge level has been raised.

The only way to prove you're ready to stay in the Premier League is by actually staying in it once the season is over.

The Facts:

Leeds United had more of the ball (58.6 per cent), more of the shots (18 to Arsenal's 16) and a better pass success rate (81 per cent to Arsenal's 73 per cent) than their opponents on the night.

They came close to scoring on multiple occasions and were denied either by the post or through the impressive efforts from goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.

On another night they might have won the game, though the truth is they didn't and their own level of performance dropped off after 45 minutes as their opponents figured them out and responded appropriately.

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Why the Premier League cannot wait for Bielsa's Leeds

Mikel Arteta could smile by the end, but admitted that his team had "suffered", and not in the way intended.

This wasn't down to Arsenal running so much it hurt, but Leeds United doing that to them. There were long passages of the first half of their FA Cup third-round tie where it looked like Marcelo Bielsa's side would overwhelm Arsenal.

If it wasn't the perfect performance from Arteta's side, though, the manager still had the perfect line.

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