Arsenal: Martinez, Nelson, Luiz, Sokratis, Holding, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil, Pepe, Lacazette
Subs: Leno, Mavropanos, Ceballos, Willock, Saka, Martinelli, John-Jules
Arsenal secured passage into the fourth round of the FA Cup, and a game against Bournemouth, as a second half Reiss Nelson goal gave us a 1-0 win over Leeds at the Emirates.
Mikel Arteta picked a stronger team than expected, with big names throughout. Rob Holding started for the first time since November and while on paper it looked like a back three, Sokratis surprisingly started the game at right back.
The visitors had the first sniff of a goal, Bamford flicking on from a whipped free kick, and after a poor Holding pass the striker had another opportunity but the centre-half got back to make a crucial block.
At the other end Pepe had a pop from outside the area, Xhaka’s great run forward deserved a better final ball, but it was Martinez who was called into action making a good stop from Harrison.
There was more danger from Leeds when lovely passing saw Bamford crash a shot off the bar, Harrison tested the Arsenal keeper again, and Martinez was saved by Holding when a free kick was flicked on and he fumbled the ball.
Lacazette’s poor form was on display again when he drove into the box but indecision cost us possession, and Leeds almost punished that by going up the other end and shooting just wide.
Despite Leeds’ domination of possession and chances, Arsenal should have gone ahead in the 31st minute when Luiz had a free header from a corner but put it wide. Again, Martinez kept the scores level, clawing away a ball at the back post which might have come off Sokratis, who later had to defend well to prevent a one on one chance.
Gotts had a super chance to score but put it over the bar from close range, which meant the sides went in level at the break.
The second 45 began with no changes in personnel for either team, and there were some early signs that Arsenal might be better. Pepe shot over, before Nelson drove at pace into the box but couldn’t quite get a shot off, and Lacazette clipped the top of the bar with a free kick from just outside the box.
Good work from Guendouzi saw Ozil feed Lacazette who shot straight at the keeper, and the French midfielder had a go himself, curling a left footed effort not far wide. It wasn’t all one way traffic though, Bamford tested Martinez again, but in the 55th minute we went ahead.
It began with great work from Pepe, he ran with it, fed Lacazette who gave it back to him, it deflected into the path of Nelson whose miskicked finish beat the keeper! 1-0.
Leeds made two changes almost immediately, bringing on Costa and Dallas for Alioski and Gotts, followed by Gabriel Martinelli replacing Nelson in the 67th minute.
Kolasinac was booked for a foul on Costa, Leeds put the subsequent free kick over the bar, and quick feet from Martinelli saw him test the keeper who made a good save low down. Joe Willock came on for Ozil in the 77th minute, Kolasinac combined well with Lacazette but his shot was blocked, and Sokratis powered down the right like a massive Greek bull which sparked a sort of melee but not really.
Great defending from Sokratis prevented a Leeds equaliser as the game moved into five minutes of added time. Saka replaced Pepe in injury time, Luiz put a free kick over the bar from 5 yards outside the box, and some decent game management in the final stages ensured that a much improved second half performance was enough for victory.