Leeds United were denied a much-needed win as they were held by ten-man Arsenal at Elland Road on Sunday evening.
The hosts spurned a number of great opportunities in the first-half and really should have taken the lead. They were then given a huge boost soon after the break as Nicolas Pepe was awarded a straight red card for a headbutt. The Whites hit the woodwork three times throughout the second-half in the search of a winner – Rodrigo’s curling effort at first bounced off of the angle of post and bar. Then, Bamford’s late header also struck the woodwork before Raphinha also hit the same upright. They weren’t quite able to find a way through though, meaning the points were shared.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Pepe blows chance
Throughout the international break, Arsenal man Pepe made clear his desires of getting more first team football at the Emirates Stadium having only started one Premier League match prior to clash at Elland Road. He got his wish in Yorkshire, starting on the right of a front three.
That was about as good as the Ivorian’s day got however as he put in a dire performance on the ball, failing to really threaten the Leeds backline at all throughout the 90 minutes. It was a far cry from the sort of displays he was turning in for Lille, an aspect that convinced Arsenal to part with a record fee for his signature.
He then topped that off with a moment of sheer idiocy in an off-the-ball incident with Ezgjan Alioski where he appeared to headbutt the Macedonian. After consulting VAR, the referee produced a red card. Whilst Pepe will now be suspended for the next few games, he will certainly not have convinced Mikel Arteta or supporters that he is worthy of a starting berth after that.
Pepe’s dismissal at Elland Road only exacerbated a problem they were suffering with already – a real lack of creativity. At some points the Gunners’ really did look devoid of ideas and considering that they were coming up against a Leeds side that had conceded eight goals in their last two Premier matches, that will hugely disappoint Arteta.
The North Londoners only managed two shots on target throughout the entire match, one each from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka. Indeed, that also means that the Gunners have only found the net once in their last five Premier League matches – an aspect that is nowhere near good enough for a side who really should be pushing for the European places this campaign.
Leeds’ goal touch abandons them
During their first season back in the Premier League, Leeds have won plaudits for their swashbuckling, attacking style. In fact, only one side have managed to deny Marcelo Bielsa’s men in front of goal in the league this season, that being Wolverhampton Wanderers. That aspect was again evident on Sunday, with Leeds enjoying the majority of the chances.
However, they were simply not as clinical as they have been previously, wasting a host of wonderful chances. There was slight misfortune in that they managed to strike the woodwork three times but not being able to find a winner against a side that played the majority of the game with ten men will be a huge disappointment to Marcelo Bielsa. In better news though, despite that lack of goals, Leeds are still at odds of 9/1 with Betfair to be relegated from the Premier League so it doesn’t look too much of a problem quite yet.
Leeds United: Meslier (7); Dallas (7), Koch (6), Cooper (7), Ayling (7) (Rodrigo (6), 71′); Klich (6), Phillips (7), Alioski (6); Raphinha (7), Harrison (7) (Poveda (N/A), 80′), Bamford (6).
Arsenal: Leno (7); Tierney (7), Gabriel (7), Holding (6), Bellerin (7), Xhaka (6), Willock (6) (Saka (7), 57′ (Maitland-Niles (N/A), 90+3′)), Ceballos (6); Willian (4) (Willock (5), 45′), Pepe (3), Aubameyang (5).
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Yellow Cards: Dallas (15′), Cooper (86′), Phillips (90+3′)
Red Cards: Pepe (51′)
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