Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Cedric, Xhaka, Elneny, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah
Subs: Leno, Tavares, Swanson, Oulad M’Hand, Lokonga, Patino, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Lacazette
Two goals from Eddie Nketiah helped Arsenal to a 2-1 over 10 man Leeds at the Emirates this afternoon, although it wasn’t as comfortable as it should have been.
With Takehiro Tomiyasu deployed at left back ahead of Nuno Tavares, the Gunners faced an energetic, high-pressing visiting side, but an early goal was a tonic and it came after just five minutes.
Leeds played the ball along the back, then to the keeper, Nketiah pressed him, put in a tackle and into the back of the net from close range. 1-0.
Five minutes later, the lead was doubled. It came from great play down the left from Martinelli, beat the defender, got the byline, looked up, cut it back for Nketiah who swept it home with his left foot for his second of the game. 2-0.
Arsenal continued the pressure, Martinelli was almost put through by Odegaard, before Gabriel picked up a 16th minute yellow card as the opposition made a rare foray into our half.
Saka and Odegaard, plus a delightful flick from the Norwegian, saw Leeds clear, before Saka shot straight at the keeper. Then there was drama when Ayling streamed in two-footed on Martinelli to pick up a yellow card, but after a VAR check the referee rescinded the yellow and issued a straight red card. Raphina was booked in the mayhem, and was lucky to avoid two yellows as he went bananas for some reason – it was a clear red.
Leeds brought on Struijk for Gelhardt, Klich picked up a yellow for a snide foul on Xhaka, and the Swiss created a chance for Martinelli with a precision pass – the shot deflected off the keeper and squirted across the box. An Odegaard free kick deceived the keeper but was cleared off the line by Llorente, and after a tumultuous first half of the first half, the second half of the first half ended in subdued style with Arteta’s men taking the two goal lead into the break.
Leeds made a change at half-time, with Lewis Bate replacing Klich. Odegaard produced a cross which almost presented Xhaka with a close range chance, and the second period began with all the game being played in the Leeds half.
Martinelli left Raphina on his grumpy arse before shooting to the near post, forcing Meslier into a save. A smart Odegaard corner gave Nketiah a headed chance which was cleared away, Martinelli shot just over after the ball broke to him in the box, before Leeds made their final change as Rodrigo replaced Raphina.
Xhaka’s chest down from a Cedric cross saw Martinelli shoot wide, but with their first attempt on goal, Leeds got one back. After winning a corner, the delivery came in, flicked on and Llorente finished at the back post. 2-1.
The goal prompted Mikel Arteta into a change, putting Nicolas Pepe for Saka in the 68th minute, and there was a sense of nervousness around the Emirates. Elneny’s incisive pass helped Odegaard find space for a shot but he pulled it wide of the post, before Smith Rowe replaced a cramping Martinelli with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Odegaard had a free kick on target, but the shot was easy for the keeper, and the flutters continued as the match headed towards the final whistle. A Leeds corner for which Meslier went up almost provided Arsenal a chance on the break but Pepe couldn’t make the most of it.
There was a late chance for Rodrigo, but he headed into the arms of Ramsdale, and in the end we hung on for a big three points and the chance to secure top four at White Hart Lane on Thursday.