A calamitous first-half display from Leeds United saw them comfortably beaten in North London this evening despite a spirited second-half fightback from the Yorkshire side.
The Gunners started the game on the front-foot, probing and asking questions of a very frail Leeds United backline but struggled to construct any real openings at a sodden Emirates Stadium. The Whites were without the instrumental Kalvin Phillips who sustained a calf injury in the victory over Palace, his absence proving telling with the Whites crying out for someone to pull the strings in the middle of the park. Leeds were then punished for their faulty start to the encounter when Aubameyang handed the Gunners an early lead with a crisp finish at the near-post, wrong-footing the Leeds keeper. The Gabonese international’s silky footwork was too much for Luke Ayling to deal with and the Arsenal forward fired underneath the young French shot-stopper. Leeds have a notoriously bad record when playing in the capital-their last win in coming 2017 and it was no surprise when Arsenal doubled their lead four minutes before the interval. Illan Meslier was caught in two minds as to whether clear it or play it out from the back. Saka put Meslier under intense pressure and that resulted in the young French keeper clumsily swiping at Saka’s legs, the ref pointing to the spot after petulent and naive play from Meslier.
An abject first-half display was rounded off when Hector Bellerin notched a rare goal. Bukayo Saka, who had caused problems for the make-shift Leeds defence found the Spaniard who slammed home at Meslier’s near-post- questionable goalkeeping from the young Frenchman.
At half-time, Bielsa summoned fresh-legs and one of those introduced to the frame of things was Helder Costa. Unfortunately the Portuguese winger’s first contribution was getting robbed of the ball as Emile Smith-Rowe stole the ball from Costa before teeing up a lurking Aubameyang at the back-post who completed his hat-trick and notched the Gunners’ third.
Leeds did restore a bit of pride to the score-line when Struijk opened his account for the club. A sumptuous corner from Raphinha found the head of the towering Dutchman who headed home in what was nothing but a mere consolation for the Whites. Leeds fans had genuine optimism of mounting a come-back when Helder Costa prodded one in to make it 4-2. The former Wolves man has been subject to a hefty amount of criticism in recent weeks after ineffective performances after coming off the bench. Costa was pivotal in both of the goals and looked re-juvenated.
But it wasn’t to be, Arsenal managed to withstand a late Leeds onslaught and pick up a crucial three points.
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