Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Leeds United 1-4 Arsenal: Martinelli at the double as Gunners run riot at Elland Road

SoccerNews in English Premier League 18 Dec 2021


Arsenal further consolidated their place in the top four as Gabriel Martinelli’s double helped them to a 4-1 victory over depleted Leeds United.

In the only Premier League game to take place on Saturday after a raft of coronavirus-enforced postponements, Arsenal ended a run of three successive away league defeats in style as Leeds suffered another hammering following a 7-0 thrashing at Manchester City.

They were helped by a dismal first-half display from Leeds, who allowed 11 shots on target – the most by any side in the opening 45 minutes of a match since Opta records began in 2003-04.

Martinelli’s brace and Bukayo Saka’s strike punished some woeful defending, and although Raphinha’s penalty reduced the arrears, substitute Emile Smith Rowe added insult to injury late on.

Saka drilled wide of an open goal and llan Meslier came to Leeds’ rescue in an early Arsenal onslaught, yet the goalkeeper could do little to prevent Martinelli deservedly putting the Gunners ahead after pouncing on Adam Forshaw’s error.

Raphinha dragged wide at the culmination of a wonderful run and Leeds were swiftly made to pay – Martinelli racing onto Granit Xhaka’s pass and lifting a neat finish over Meslier to make it 2-0.

Meslier made another fine stop from Alexandre Lacazette, but it was 3-0 by the break when Saka’s effort deflected in off Mateusz Klich.

Xhaka went in late on Raphinha after the restart, and was fortunate to escape a booking, especially when Joe Gelhardt was carded for a similar foul on Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Saka went close to doubling his tally as Arsenal kept Leeds at arm’s length, yet a reckless lunge from Ben White on Gelhardt handed the hosts a lifeline.

Raphinha sent his penalty into the top-right corner, yet any comeback hopes were dashed when Smith Rowe finished first-time from Martin Odegaard’s superb pass.


What does it mean? The kids are alright 

Arsenal’s goal this season is Champions League qualification, and they are right in the mix. Indeed, with so many other games cancelled this weekend, they are assured of being four points clear of fifth place at Christmas. 

They remain a work in process under Arteta, though there is no doubt he is changing the make-up of his squad – indeed, 14 of Arsenal’s 27 league goals this season have been scored by players aged 21 or under.

Magnificent Martinelli brings up Gunners milestone

Martinelli was afforded the freedom of Elland Road at times in the first half and he duly made Leeds pay, scoring his first Premier League double in his 39th top-flight appearance, while he has netted as many goals in his last two league matches for Arsenal as he had in his previous 24 beforehand (three).

His opener was also Arsenal’s 7,000th top-flight goal, with the Gunners becoming only the third English side to reach that total since the Football League began in 1888, after Everton (7,139) and Liverpool (7,069).

Bielsa losing his spark?

Leeds had to name a bench of nine players all aged 21 or under, meanwhile, with their injury issues really hitting hard. That being said, 11 goals conceded over two games is a more than worrying trend, and Marcelo Bielsa’s side need players back, and reinforcements in January, if they are to avoid a relegation scrap.

The Argentine will still carry favour with the fans, but Leeds have already lost eight games and sit 16th, while they are hugely reliant on Raphinha, who has scored eight of their 18 league goals this term (44 per cent). Only Teemu Pukki for Norwich (63 per cent – 5/8) has scored a higher ratio for a side in this season’s competition.

What’s next?

Doubt remains over whether the season will continue or be paused, but as it stands Arsenal are set to face Norwich City, while Leeds face a daunting trip to Anfield.



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