Leeds United went into this match with Leeds having thrown the kitchen sink at Arsenal at Elland Road last year ending with a draw, and now in February being one place above them in the league table. This match saw five changes for Arsenal and one for Leeds- loss of kingpin injured Kalvin Phillips with three players moved around. Another big test for our defence as Arsenal were in form at home. Leeds have not won in London since December – a jinx we need break. 200th Leeds game for Liam Cooper.
It was an amateurish start with bothAyling and Cooper failing to defend well enough against Aubameyang leaving Meslier undefended for him to score. VAR worked properly with an overturn of a referee decision for a penalty. Cooper was leaning in so not a penalty. And then a self inflicted penalty by Meslier for not clearing his line – Leeds had spent the first half not being able to pass out from defence. And then Arsenal play with Leeds in their own penalty box for the third. The glaring lack of quality in our defence with three players missing was there. Still in the final minutes Leeds staked out Arsenal in their own defence – we win in style but also lose in style.
Disastrous start to the second half with Arsenal quicker to the ball than us with a fourth goal. And the domination was complete. Raphinha responded with a long distance strike on goal just about palmed away. Maybe he was our only player making a difference today but struggled to make an impact on the game.
The depth of our squad is when we have an under 21 Niall Huggins brought on as a sub to change the game. But Leeds just keep going and at times in the second half we caught Arsenal sitting back and brought the score back to 4-2. Tyler Roberts injected some pace some sharp crosses. But a few subs from Arsenal closed the game down. Arsenal were dangerous with a shot hitting the cross bar late.
A few positives for Leeds were seeing the sub Costa scoring and Struijk finally on target. Much better link up play nearly let Bamford in on goal. But a mare of a first half meant the game was lost by half time. Relying on the Under 23s to cover for Phillips and our two first choice defenders is always going to cost us.
Man of the match: Tyler Roberts