Report and free match highlights as Nicholas Pepe’s moment of madness does not prove too costly for Arsenal; Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha struck the woodwork for Leeds in Premier League clash at Elland Road
Sunday 22 November 2020 19:09, UK
Arsenal survived playing almost 40 minutes with 10 men after Nicholas Pepe’s red card as they ground out a 0-0 draw with Leeds United.
Pepe – on just his second start in the Premier League this season – would not have impressed Mikel Arteta with his attitude after retaliating to some goading by Ezgjan Alioski by shoving his head into the defender’s face.
Referee Antony Taylor did not spot the incident but a VAR review meant Pepe was given his marching orders (51) meaning no Premier League team has received more red cards than the Gunners since Arteta’s appointment (5).
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Leeds seemed to find playing against 11 men easier than 10 but still should have taken maximum points, striking the woodwork three times with Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha all going close.
Arsenal could have stolen the victory but Bukayo Saka could not take advantage of being put through one-on-one with Illan Meslier.
Another blank for Arsenal means they have now failed to score from open play in their last 476 mins of Premier League football – their only goal in the last five league games was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty in the 1-0 win over Manchester United.
Leeds: Meslier (7), Ayling (7), Koch (6), Cooper (6), Dallas (7), Phillips (7), Alioski (6), Raphinha (6), Klich (6), Harrison (7), Bamford (6)
Subs: Rodrigo (7), Poveda (6)
Arsenal: Leno (8), Holding (7), Gabriel (7), Tierney (7), Bellerin (6), Xhaka (7), Willock (5), Ceballos (6), Willian (4), Pepe (2), Aubameyang (6)
Subs: Saka (6), Nelson (6)
Man of the Match: Bernd Leno
How Arsenal survived Pepe’s moment of madness
Arteta said Arsenal had to right the wrongs they made in their 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa before the international break but they were second best from the first whistle with Leeds dominating possession and the chance count.
Some clever work on the left saw Jack Harrison feed an overlapping Alioski before the Macedonian pulled back to Bamford, whose toe-poke lacked sufficient power and was easily saved by Bernd Leno.
Arsenal lacked fluency in forward areas but Pepe did almost fluke them ahead when his cross-cum-shot from the left by-line dipped on to the crossbar.
Bamford was given another sight at goal but his instinctive volley was palmed away by a diving Leno, who was the busier of the two goalkeepers. Harrison continued to provide a great outlet down the left and he produced brilliant service for Stuart Dallas and Mateusz Klich but both were wayward with their efforts.
Arsenal were reduced to 10 men after the break when Pepe was sent off following an off-the-ball skirmish with Alioski. The pair had a coming-together moments before Pepe sought some retribution by bringing his head towards Alioski, who went down clutching his face. After VAR notified Taylor of the foul play, he dismissed Arsenal’s record signing after watching the altercation on a pitchside monitor.
Leeds came close to immediately capitalising on their man advantage, with Dallas’ left-foot strike destined for the top corner only for Leno, at full stretch, to parry over the bar.
Arsenal were sat deep inside their own half and Rodrigo’s introduction off the bench saw Leeds step up their attacking intent.
The former Valencia striker sent a thunderous left-footed effort just wide while another attempt from the edge of the box cannoned off the crossbar.
Leeds were almost caught cold in the final 10 minutes as substitute Bukayo Saka burst through but after rounding Illan Meslier, the goalkeeper recovered to get the crucial interception. Thereafter, it was all Leeds as they went in search of a winner.
Bamford’s header from Ian Poveda’s right-wing cross struck the post, while Raphinha’s effort from a narrow angle hit the outside edge of the upright. Despite having 25 shots, it just wasn’t to be Leeds’ night.
Man of the match: Bernd Leno
It wasn’t quite kitchen-sink levels of pressure from Leeds, but they still created enough to win the match. It was Leno’s concentration and shot-saving that played a huge part in Arsenal keeping their sixth clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League away games. With four saves – one of them top class from Stuart Dallas – Leno provided a reminder to onlookers that Arsenal have one of the best goalkeepers in the division.
- This was only Leeds United’s third goalless draw in 101 league matches under Marcelo Bielsa, also drawing 0-0 with Middlesbrough in August 2018 and Sheffield Wednesday in October 2019.
- Arsenal have scored just nine goals in this season’s Premier League; it’s their lowest tally after their first nine games of any league season since 1986-87 (six).
- Since Marcelo Bielsa took charge of Leeds in 2018, the Whites have kept 41 clean sheets in 101 league games (excluding play-offs), more than any other side in the top four tiers of English league football in this time.
- Arsenal have failed to score in four of their last five league games, this after having only done so in three of Mikel Arteta’s first 24 Premier League matches in charge.
- Leeds had 25 shots against Arsenal; only Man Utd v Newcastle (28) and Leeds themselves v Aston Villa (27) have had more in a single Premier League game this season so far, with Leeds’ 25 the most by any side without scoring in a match in the division since Man City’s 26 against Southampton in July.
Leeds are back in action next Saturday when Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton are in opposition. Meanwhile, Arsenal have a trip to Norway in midweek for a Europa League clash with Molde before returning to face Wolves next Sunday.
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