Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe was given the marching orders by referee Anthony Taylor as Arsenal hold Leeds to a 0-0 draw at Elland Road.
Arsenal came into the match on the back of a humiliating 3-0 home loss against Aston Villa. Leeds on the other hand were on the receiving end of 4-1 thumping against Leicester City and Crystal Palace in their last 2 fixtures. With just 1 victory in the last 5 matches, both the teams needed a victory to turn their fortunes around.
Arsenal were forced to make changes as Arsenal were without their marquee signing Thomas Partey. Ghana international continues to recover from the thigh injury suffered against Aston Villa. Mohamed Elneny who started the last match at Emirates was also ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19 with Sead Kolasinac.
David Luiz missed this game, following the birth of his child. Alexandre Lacazette was relegated to the bench after a string of poor performances as Nicolas Pepe came in for his second start in the league this season.
Leeds United welcomed back star midfielder Kalvin Philipps after recovering from a shoulder injury. Club record signing Rodrigo was fit enough to start from the bench. Pablo Hernandes missed out due to a muscle strain.
Arsenal XI: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Ceballos, Xhaka, Willock, Willian, Aubameyang, Pepe.
Leeds XI: Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Alioski, Phillips, Raphinha, Klich, Dallas, Harrison, Bamford.
The home side were dominant from the word go with Arsenal failing to register a single shot on target in the first half. Leed’s attacks came from the right side of Arsenal as they exploited the lack of defensive work from Nicolas Pepe which left Hector Bellerin exposed. The first half ended level as Bernd Leno saved twice from Patrick Bamford.
Reiss Nelson came on for Willian at half-time, he was lively in opening exchanges. The game changed when VAR intervened in an off the ball incident. Replays of the incident showed Alioski shoving Pepe who responded by lightly headbutting him. Match official Anthony Taylor had no choice but to give the marching orders to Ivorian.
Even with a man advantage, Leeds made things difficult for themselves with poor finishing. Leeds were almost made to pay when Saka went through on goal, only to be denied by a brilliant save. Arsenal had a late appeal for a penalty turned down, when Aubameyang’s deflected shot hit Liam Cooper’s arm.
Leeds were unfortunate not to score at the end when they hit the goal post thrice in the last 10 minutes. Ten men Arsenal held on to a precious away point at Elland Road.
PLAYER RATINGS OF NOTABLE PERFORMANCES:
Leno(7/10)– Kept Arsenal in the game with 2 brilliant saves. One from Patrick Bamford in the first half and again from Stuart Dallas after the break.
Raphinha(7/10)– Impressive display from the new signing. Was a threat throughout the match. Unfortunate to hit the post.
Pepe(3/10)- A bad day at the office for Nicolas Pepe. He failed to trackback which left Hector Bellerin exposed. Sent off in the second half for a completely unnecessary headbutt.
“Considering how early Pepe was sent off, we have to take it. I never like a draw but considering the circumstances, it’s a point.
“I really liked the personality of our team. When Pepe let the team down, we suffered together, we stuck to what we had to do and still believed that we could win the game.”– Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta
Gunners now sits at 11th position with 13 points in 9 games and Leeds 14th with 11 points. Arsenal have an away Europa league tie at Molde before welcoming Wolves next Sunday.
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