Leeds United’s young guns impressed in the first half through Summerville but Arsenal in the second half stepped up a gear. Leeds’ bench showed Gracia is saving his players for the next matches where he can realistically expect to pick up points.
Leeds are wracked with injuries from the international break. Tyler Adams, Willy Gnonto and Max Wober both suffered injuries representing their countries. Liam Cooper, Rodrigo, Weston McKennie and Patrick Bamford were on the bench.
Gracia put the kids out with Crysencio Summerville, Luis Sinisterra, Pascal Struijk and Rasmus Kristensen all starting. For Arsenal, striker Jesus returned from injury. Leeds’ absences left them weak in midfield, defence, and up front. They set up to defend with up to six in defence when Arsenal are attacking.
Leeds started with a shot on target by Kristensen in the first 10 seconds and Arsenal responded with a blocked shot a Leedsy start. Arsenal soon settled down to a passing game with Leeds looking to rare opportunities to break.
Leeds grew in to the game with a defensive midfield pushing Arsenal wide. After half an hour Leeds had three shots on target and Arsenal none. Summerville showed his fearlessness through his darting runs, creating opportunities including a back heel in front of the keeper who managed to stop it.
But then Arsenal responded with Jesus winning a penalty from Ayling. Arsenal went ahead despite Leeds having the better start. Leeds then suffered a near deja vu when Meslier had to come out of the box to stop an Arsenal attack only for an Arsenal player to hoof the ball from the half way line catching Meslier off his line, luckily Ayling was there to clear.
Second half mauling
Leeds were caught napping at the start of the second half as Ayling was left to defend against two attackers with Martinelli crossing over to White unmarked at the back to score. Within ten minutes Leeds are 3-0 down as Arsenal’s pace and skill leaves Leeds’ defence struggling. It proved a tough second half with Arsenal able to replace Jesus with the quality of Saka.
Rutter made an immediate impact as a sub and set up Harrison for a run down the left which found Kristensen who scored from a deflection. Another goal for Kristensen – he has found form. Ayling was guilty again allowing Dzhaka space to head home Arsenal’s fourth goal. We ended the match with three strikers on the pitch – more a warm up for the next match rather than a defensive strategy.
Leeds are a much better attacking team under Gracia with much higher number of shots and on target. Aaronson is growing as a player staying on his feet when he dribbles into the box. Defensively Leeds missed the quality of Wober and Cooper still not fit. Gracia talked about the importance of concentration in defence and taking opportunities in attack when we have them. We were lacking in both areas today.
Man of the Match; Summerville