Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa maintains his promotion hopefuls cannot consider the FA Cup a “distraction” in their quest to reach the Premier League.
The Sky Bet Championship leaders head to Arsenal on Monday night level on points with West Brom following their 1-1 draw on New Year’s Day.
Bielsa is expected to freshen up the team for the trip to London, where 20-year-old full-back Robbie Gotts should feature for his first-team debut along with teenage goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
The Argentinian, though, insists Leeds should not prioritise one competition over another as he looks to sustain positive momentum through the campaign.
“It is an official engagement and every official engagement we cannot consider a distraction,” Bielsa said.
“Of course it is a big challenge for us. It is enough to see the players and the prestige and the level they have.
“The stadium they play, how many supporters they have around the world, the manager and the previous managers, all these facts describe the power of the club.”
Bielsa, though, maintains Leeds will be ready for the challenge.
“If we are going to play with another opponent, we are going to justify ourselves,” he said at a press conference.
“It is a competition with a great history and in there (the FA Cup), every opponent is important.”
Bielsa has confidence the youngsters he brings into the team will take their opportunity.
“Both of them (Gotts and Meslier), they do not have to prove anything to us,” he said.
“If they play well, that is better, and if they don’t play well, it is not going to change anything about the step forward they are giving.”
Arsenal are looking for a fresh start this season after Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery as head coach.
The former Gunners midfielder returned to the club following a spell as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
After losing at home to Chelsea in a game which they had been 1-0 ahead, Arsenal produced an impressive performance to beat Manchester United on New Year’s Day.
Bielsa feels working under Guardiola can only stand 37-year-old Arteta in good stead.
“Always who is a colleague of Guardiola has an additional value,” said Bielsa, who has spells in charge of both the national teams of Argentina and Chile on his extensive CV.
“I think that Guardiola is the best manager in the world and as a great manager, of course he distributes responsibility in his staff.
“Arteta’s position was important work and after Arsenal chose him – but Arsenal did not choose him just because he was staff of Guardiola.
“This is just one fact of one person who has more qualities than that.
“When Arsenal play more matches, we will see more things from the new manager.
“To make changes you make a process and keep doing this for a long time.”
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