Result: Leeds United 0 – 1 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 16 October 2022
Venue: Elland Road
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Jesus
Subs: Turner, Tierney, Cedric, Holding, Lokonga, Vieira, Nelson, Marquinhos, Nketiah
A high energy game at Elland Road finished 0-1 in Arsenal’s favour through a first half goal by Bukayo Saka.
Arsenal were made to work hard for their win as Leeds battled bravely and could have at least took a point from the game were it not for their profligate finishing.
The Gunners were unchanged from the big win against Liverpool with Takehiro Tomiyasu retaining his place on the left side of defence after a collosal display against Mo Salah.
Up front, Gabriel Jesus returns to lead the line after being rest from the mid-week Europa League adventures in Norway.
The game at Elland Road started inauspiciously with a power outage affecting the referee’s communication devices which delayed kickoff by a good 40 minutes.
Upon coming out of the locker rooms, Arsenal looked cold and required a jolt to their senses to match Leeds’ energy. Leeds allowed Arsenal to progress the ball up to the halfway line before pressing and snuffing out Arsenal’s attack.
There wasn’t much space for our midfield trio to dictate the game, even with Tomiyasu drifting in to provide an option in the centre. Leeds, on the other hand, played hard but fair and were quick to break for a counter with Rodrigo dangerous with his direct dribbles.
The first big opportunity from the tactical battle came to Leeds. A point blank effort from a corner was pushed away well by Ramdale on the line. Arsenal responded immediately with the best opportunity of the first 30 mins. Martinelli crossed from the left and Xhaka dummied for Odegaard to strike. The captain couldn’t get a clean contact on the ball and it dropped for Jesus on the right. You’d have expected the forward to score with his chip but it landed on the roof of the net.
Arsenal had to be sharp, clean and crisp with their passing to get out of Leeds’ tackles. And they were just that when they went ahead. Arsenal pressured Rodrigo to wildly lash the ball towards Saka from the other side of the pitch. Saka headed down for Odegaard who returned the ball with a perfectly weighted pass down the inside right.
The winger lashed the ball into the roof of the net from an acute angle, surprising Meslier who looked to cover the far post. 1-0 Saka
Leeds came out strong looking for an equaliser. Within the first couple of minutes, they looped in a cross for Harrison at the far post. The ball was scuppered for half time substitute Bamford to strike but he was penalised for a foul on Gabriel in the lead up to the goal.
Leeds continued cutting Arsenal through the middle and the pressure was felt by Saliba who handled the ball in the box. The referee didn’t catch the moment but was called upon by VAR a minute later to double check on the error.
The referee called to the spot but Bamford could only shoot the ball wide and low.
The match continued to be played at a frantic pace. Sinisterra ghosted in to the box and shot from around the penaly spot but Gabriel was on hand to block it from close range. It wasn’t long until Bamford was put through on goal against a recovering Saliba but had Ramsdale to thank for running off his line to smother the attempt.
Arsenal couldn’t get out of their half nor regain possession as Leeds piled on the pressure looking for the equaliser. With 10 mins to go, Arteta switched to a back five, Holding joined the central defenders flanked by Tomiyasu and Tierney.
The change in formation took the sting out of the game as it enabled Arsenal to regain and retain possession again. The drama was far from over though as it all culminated during injury time where Gabriel was red carded for impeding Bamford’s run in the box. Though in honesty, it looked like Bamford ran into, and pushed Gabriel down instead.
VAR had the referee reassess the incident on the screen and he correctly rescinded the card and foul.
The Gunners, and their fans, were relieved to hear the final whistle after 9 minutes of injury time as they were on the ropes but their never-say-die attitude saw them through a nervy second half.