For the first time in the Premier League, Arsenal welcomed Leeds to the Emirates. The hosts can go above Leeds into 10th place.
Arsenal are winless in their last 3 games, having come off a 1-0 loss to Villa.
Leeds, having come off a 2-0 win vs Palace would look to find some consistent form, and no better against an inconsistent, injury threatened Arsenal side.
The two sides drew 0-0 last time they met – however Leeds should’ve won.
The visitors are a high energy, high productive side, but often lack the end product. The game should be a good watch for all.
Leno comes back from suspension and straight back in the lineup. Luiz replaces Holding, Ceballos replaces the injured Partey.
With Europa in mind, there were other changes made for the Gunners.
Ødegaard makes his home debut from the start, with Aubameyang ready to come back into the XI in place of Lacazette – with Pepe dropped.
It’s fairly standard staff for Leeds, but are without Phillips who has been a pivotal player. Shackleton comes in.
With Bamford and in form man Raphinha with 7 G/A in his last 9, Leeds will be a big threat for the Gunners – who look to gain some momentum.
Arsenal started brightly, and 13 minutes in Aubameyang received the ball from Xhaka, cut inside and slammed near post. Meslier arguably should do better, but Arsenal won’t care. Great start!
Leeds had a few half chances on the counter but created very little – Bamford’s header was their best effort, which was easily saved.
Luiz found himself in a very attacking area after carrying the ball forward. He got in behind, cut across to Aubameyang who’s effort was brilliantly blocked by Ayling.
Denial of an almost certain goal!
Star boy Saka drove into the penalty area and took the minimal contact – as the ref pointed to the spot.
It appeared Saka was leant on by the defender but was deemed not enough for a penalty as Stuart Attwell overturned the decision after going to the monitor. Controversial.
Out of nothing, Meslier dug himself in a hole staying on the ball for too long, where Saka took the ball off him and was clipped by the Frenchman.
Clear penalty and not a good afternoon for Meslier, as Aubameyang converted convincingly into the side netting to give the Gunners a comfortable 2 goal cushion going into the break.
Just when it seems it will be 2-0 at HT, Saka drives into the area, takes it inside, continues to bamboozle the defenders.
Aubameyang then receives the ball off Saka, who clips it back post for Bellerin, who heads it across to Smith Rowe, controls it and plays to Ceballos. Ceballos picks a great pass for Bellerin who takes a great touch and emphatically smashes past Meslier.
The goal was worthy of many words, a true team goal which involved a lot of patience. Leeds defenders won’t want to see that again. The first of the season for Bellerin.
Arsenal took a 3 goal cushion into half time, for the first time since Aubameyang arrived years ago.
They are good value for their lead, as Leeds have looked vulnerable defensively, have created little and Arsenal have dealt with their press well.
More of the same 2nd half would do great confidence for Arsenal before their Europa tie.
Leeds made a double change at the break, with Roberts and Helder Costa coming on for Klich & Harrison.
2 minutes after the restart Smith Rowe drives into the penalty area and puts it on a plate for Aubameyang. A failed shot or not, it was a brilliant pass and its 4-0.
His first Arsenal hattrick in the Premier League, brilliant to see and will do his confidence so much good!
Raphinha’s great effort was equally saved by Leno, as Leeds looked to formulate some sort of response.
Pascal Strujik leaped above David Luiz and slammed in the corner. Poor marking but great header. Hopefully just a consolation.
Willian was brought on for Smith Rowe as Arteta looked to regain confidence in the Brazilian and rest the Englishman.
A few chances from both sides as Ødegaard forced a save but was offside and Raphinha strikes just wide.
A 5th goal will be ideal and will settle any nerve another goal from Leeds would bring.
In the 68th minute Bellerin gets caught out by Tyler Roberts who squares it to Helder Costa for the finish, the 2 subs combining.
The last thing Arsenal needed, as Leeds looked threatening.
Aubameyang’s effort crashed against the post as Arsenal looked to regain their 3 goal cushion. So unlucky and would’ve removed all nerves.
Elneny was brought on to see out the game and to protect the defence more. Ødegaard came off.
Willian’s pass had Saka in behind who may have just been offside, smashed the post. Very unfortunate again.
Ayling got in behind and squared it to Bamford, but Luiz just got there before. Nervy times for Arsenal.
Cedric chopped inside soon after and curled it ferociously but Meslier made a good save.
Leeds arguably could’ve had a penalty, as Bamford was sandwiched by Xhaka and Cedric but nothing given.
Rob Holding was sent on to ensure nothing went wrong, and despite a few scares the game ended 4-2. A great win for Arsenal & a great effort from Leeds.
Man of the match:
To a man we were excellent, but when you score a hattrick you know what happens.
Aubameyang was great and a constant threat – and was unlucky to not get a 4th.
A great game for the Gabonese having come back in the XI.
Just before an important game vs Benfica, this was very much needed.
Gabriel, Saka, Smith Rowe & Ødegaard were stand outs.
Leno – 7
Bellerin – 7.5
Gabriel – 8
Luiz – 7.5
Cedric – 7
Xhaka – 7.5
Ceballos – 7.5
Smith Rowe – 8
Ødegaard – 8
Saka – 8.5
Aubameyang- 9 (MOTM)
High ratings to sum up a brilliant afternoon.
What next for Arsenal?
Arsenal have Man City next in the league, but Benfica in the Europa first.
With European football tough to obtain through the league, Arsenal will look to have a successful European run.
The first leg of the tie is on BT Sports at 6pm this Thursday. Where Arsenal play Benfica in Rome due to COVID travel restrictions.
Let’s hope for a good display and result & a good watch.
featured image credit sky sports