Arsenal 4-1 Leeds: Gunners re-extend their lead

Arsenal 4-1 Leeds: Gunners re-extend their lead

Whatever City can do! Arsenal restore eight-point lead at the top of the table as Gabriel Jesus’ braceon return to the starting XI, with Ben White and Granit Xhaka also scoring in 4-1 win over Leeds

  • Leeds started well but Jesus scored from the penalty spot in the first half after winning the spot-kick
  • White added a second after good work from Leandro Trossard, playing on the right over Bukayo Saka
  • Jesus then added a third before Rasmus Kristensen’s consolation, with Granit Xhaka also on the scoresheet

Perhaps the time is nigh to end the speculation. To stop wondering how another setback or the absence of another player might impact Arsenal’s dash towards the Premier League title. 

Time and again this season, holes have opened up at the heart of Mikel Arteta’s side. Time and again, someone has stepped in to fill the void. 

So it was here, once more, as Arsenal secured a seventh-consecutive Premier League victory – the longest winning run of any team this season and their best ever under Arteta. 

Teams with flimsier foundations might have wobbled after Manchester City sent an ominous statement of intent, and illness consigned Bukayo Saka to the bench. 

The 21-year-old has been Arsenal’s beating heart this season, the player they have relied upon more than any other, the division’s first player to reach 10+ goals and assists. 

Gabriel Jesus netted twice for Arsenal on his return to the Premier League starting XI on Saturday afternoon

Ben White scored Arsenal’s second goal against his old side after arriving late to convert Leandro Trossard’s cross

Granit Xhaka completed the scoring as he headed in from a neat Martin Odegaard cross, kept onside by Luke Ayling

His absence forced Arteta into a reshuffle, only for Arsenal’s rejigged forward line to dismantle Leeds and restore their eight-point advantage. 


Arsenal 4-3-3: Ramsdale 7; White 7, Holding 6.5, Gabriel 6, Zinchenko 6 (Tierney 85, 6); Odegaard 7 (Smith Rowe 85, 6), Partey 6.5 (Jorginho 60, 6.5), Xhaka 7 (Vieira 86, 6); Trossard 7, Jesus 8 (Saka 60, 6.5), Martinelli 7.5

Subs not used: Kiwior, Nelson, Turner Walters

Goals: Jesus 35, 55, White 47, Xhaka 84

Yellow: None

Red: None

Manager; Mikel Arteta 7

Leeds (4-3-3): Meslier 5; Ayling 4, Koch 5.5 (Cooper 74, 6), Struijk 5; Firpo 5; Kristensen 6.5, Roca 5.5, Aaronson 6 (McKennie 65, 6); Harrison 5 (Bamford 85, 5), Sinisterra 5 (Rodrigo 65, 5), Summerville 6.5 (Rutter 74, 5.5)

Subs not used: Gyabi, Robles, Greenwood, Gray

Yellow: Koch

Red: None

Manager: Javi Gracia 5

Referee: Darren England 6

Attendance: 60,283

Surprise, surprise. Gabriel Jesus, on his first Premier League start since knee surgery, netted his first two goals in 18 games – first from the spot after a foul from Luke Ayling. Then he combined with Leandro Trossard to put Arsenal three-up.

In between, Gabriel Martinelli laid on the leaders’ second for Ben White. By the time Martin Odegaard picked out Granit Xhaka to head home a fourth, this had become messy for Leeds and for Ayling in particular. 

He was penalised for Arsenal’s first. He was skinned for Arsenal’s second. He was then at fault for Arsenal’s fourth, playing Xhaka onside. A miserable return for the former Arsenal youngster. 

This defeat leaves Ayling’s current side outside the drop zone on goal difference alone. Yes, Leeds’ struggles should perhaps temper any praise. They have not beaten Arsenal in two decades and Javi Gracia’s side arrived without several key players of their own. 

Except Arsenal’s habit of finding different heroes is remarkable only because it is has become so predictable. They did not crumble when Jesus hurt his knee. Or when Martinelli’s form dipped. They have coped, at various points, without Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey. Lest we forget they were missing William Saliba here, too. But they continue to roll on. 

Nine more finals remain. Arsenal opened the doors and the bars of the Emirates at 12.30pm on Saturday lunchtime. Drinks were buy one get one free for an hour, apparently. For those who arrived in time for the first half of Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City. 

Supporters also piled into pubs around the ground; staff watched from a busy media lounge. Alas, the lunchtime trade had peaked by 1pm, before City doused any hopes of another favour or a free-hit. And then, shortly before 2pm, came more news to dampen the mood around north London: for the first time in 485 days, Saka was out of the Arsenal starting XI. 

Arteta was already missing defender William Saliba because of a back problem; Saka, it turned out, had been unwell. So he dropped to the bench for the first time since December 2021. But if nerves had begun to pollute the optimism and excitement before this 10-game dash towards the title, supporters were soon roused by a breathless start. Leeds took less than 10 seconds to force a first save from Aaron Ramsdale – the goalkeeper beat away Rasmus Kristensen’s effort – before Martinelli found space to shoot down the other end. 

The clock had barely reached 40 seconds by the time his shot was deflected away from goal. Alas, the toe-to-toe exchanges didn’t last. Soon Arsenal had taken control of the ball and begun to pick at Leeds’ defensive foundations. 

Rasmus Kirstensen’s strike gave Leeds hope late on after a good counter before Xhaka headed Arsenal’s fourth

Mikel Arteta’s side started slowly but went ahead through Jesus against the run of play before taking control

Clear chances didn’t come easily, mind. Jesus squandered one – he was picked out in the middle by Xhaka, his stretching header flew over. For the first half-hour, Leeds were content enough to wait for opportunities to strike. 

The energy of Brenden Aaronson and the invention of Crysencio Summerville created some promising positions. The cruel irony? The visitors fell behind just as they threatened to break out of their shell. Summerville forced Ramsdale into another smart save and then, moments later, the 21-year-old fed Jack Harrison whose effort needed to be kept out too. From that save, Arsenal launched a lightning counter that sent Jesus down the left. 

Before long, the No 9’s tricky feet did for one defender and then sent Ayling tumbling, too. As the defender lay on the floor, his outstretched foot caught Jesus’ knee. Bad luck or clever forward play? Either way, VAR was never going to overturn Darren England’s penalty call. 

For the home fans, a nervous wait did follow, however. Because Saka’s injury meant Arsenal needed to find a back-up penalty taker. Jesus picked up the ball and fooled Meslier from 12 yards. 

Jesus was fouled by Luke Ayling in the box and stepped up to send Illan Meslier the wrong way from 12 yards

Arsenal star man Bukayo Saka started on the bench after struggling with illness but was able to play half an hour

It could have been 2-0 at the break, after Illan Meslier rushed out to clear his lines, only for his botched clearance to fall to Martinelli. His hooked effort, from 30-plus yards, was going in, too. This time, though, Ayling was Leeds’ rescue act. 

The former Arsenal youngster raced back to scramble the ball away from goal. It proved only a stay of execution. Two minutes after half-time, Martinelli beat Ayling before firing a cross that reached the back post, where White struck the ball in off the bar. 

It was game over soon after: Jesus dropped short to collect possession before feeding Trossard on the edge of the box. The No 9 then raced into the area to collect the pull-back and score. Cue a well-earned rest, a fourth for Arsenal, and a run-out for Saka before he’d hot-foot it across London to watch Anthony Joshua at ringside. 

His team-mates will head home with only one frustration: Kristensen’s deflected effort, 16 minutes from time, denied them a clean sheet. 

Source: Read Full Article