SWITZERLAND, JANUARY 06 – Leeds winger Ezgjan Alioski has expressed his belief that “Arsenal are not so special” ahead of an FA Cup third-round tie in north London.
The Championship leaders are due to arrive at Emirates Stadium on Monday night, with a spot in the fourth round of the competition up for grabs.
Leeds have only been beaten once in their last 15 matches, with a 1-1 draw against West Brom at The Hawthorns last Wednesday marking their latest step towards promotion.
Arsenal, meanwhile, picked up their first three points under Mikel Arteta with a 2-0 victory at home to Manchester United on New Year’s Day, to put themselves back in the race for a top-four Premier League finish.
Arteta has already lifted the mood of gloom surrounding the club, and the Gunners are starting to look like a formidable outfit capable of mixing it with the elite once again.
Alioski isn’t “scared” of a rejuvenated Arsenal side, though, and hopes Leeds can show off their own quality to pull off an upset at the Emirates.
“It’s a nice stadium, it’s a big club, but it’s not so special to go there because it’s Arsenal,” the Macedonia international told a press conference.
“You have some players who think like this, but it’s not enough to think ‘Wow, it’s Arsenal’, because we are also a good team and we want to show it.
“We need to go there with a lot of confidence like we always do and to play like we always do. Not to be scared to go there.
“I see the result versus Manchester United, but this United, even we can beat them. This is a cup, it’s different. The difference is that they’re [Arsenal] in the Premier League, we are in the Championship, and it’s nice to go there and show them who is Leeds.”
Leeds have put the heartbreak of last season’s failed promotion bid behind them to move nine points clear of third-placed Brentford in the Championship after 26 fixtures.
Alioski added on Leeds’ latest attempt to return to the top flight: “If we are in the Premier League, Leeds are going to be one of the biggest clubs, like I know they were before.”
Marcelo Bielsa’s side will turn their attention back to their English football’s second-tier competition after their trip to Arsenal, with Sheffield Wednesday set to arrive at Elland Road on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are due to travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on the same day, where nothing less than a win will do as they continue to chase down Chelsea in the final Champions League spot.