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Arsenal 1-0 Leeds: A Game of Two Halves

Arsenal Reiss Nelson celebrates goal

Nelson celebrates his goal. (via

Arsenal (Nelson 55′) 1-0 Leeds. 

Arsenal Player Ratings Match Review Mikel Arteta’s Post-Match Press Conference

Arsenal hosted Leeds United yesterday evening to earn the right to qualify for the fourth round of the FA Cup.

The Gunners knew their work was cut out for them but what the fans witnessed in the first 45 minutes was an aberration to say the least. Emiliano Martinez had to keep his concentration levels high and stay on his wits as he made save after save in the first half with the visitors running the home side ragged.

Leeds began like a house on fire with Kalvin Philips whipping the ball into the Arsenal danger area but Patrick Bamford’s flick sent the ball wide. Just like times past, Arsenal can be the makers of their own destruction by hitting that famous self-destruct button. Rob Holding wanted to feed the ball to Granit Xhaka but he gave possession away to Matheusz Kilch that wasted no time in sending Bamford clean on goal, but Holding showed good recovery to anticipate the shot, deflecting it for a corner kick.

Arsenal’s first attempt on goal was a weak one, with Nicolas Pepe swinging his left boot with the aim of sending a curling effort to the top corner, but debutant goalie, Illan Meslier, was on hand to make a comfortable save. Leeds continued to dominate the game and Martinez was the hero yet again when Jack Harrison executed a neat one-two that left the defense bamboozled before blasting a goal-bound effort that was parried to safety by Arsenal’s shot stopper.

The intense pressure from the visitors continued and this time the Gunners had their cross bar to thank when Harrison rifled in another shot that cannoned off the wood work with Martinez beaten. Leeds kept on piling the pressure with Philips free kick taking a deflection off Ben White’s head, but Martinez had to make a quick reaction save to keep the tie goalless. With 30 minutes on the clock, Leeds had 65% possession at the home of the Gunners.

Arsenal’s first meaningful attempt arrived on the 31st minute when David Luiz evaded his marker and headed Mesut Ozil’s corner wide off the mark. Martinez then proceeded to make what I would regard as the save of the match when Luke Ayling floated a cross from the right that saw Ezgdan Alioski beat Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the air but Martinez found a way to claw the ball from going into the back of the net. It was an incredible save.

Anthony Taylor’s whistle was like a relief to everyone connected with Arsenal as the barrage of attack from Leeds became a major concern. According to the official website, Mikel Arteta shouted at the players at half time to inspire his lads to put up a better outing and boy, it worked!

The Gunners put up an inspired outing in the second 45 minutes, starting with Alexandre Lacazette cliping a free kick that hit the top of the bar before going behind for a goal kick. Lacazette then received a neat pass from Ozil and fired a low effort that saved by Meisler. Matteo Guendouzi, who turned out to be a peripheral figure throughout the game, fashioned a chance for himself at the edge of the area and side-footed a low effort that missed by a lick of paint.

Arsenal finally got the reward for their intensified attacking pressure when Pepe and Lacazette connected well on the right then his attempted cross deflected off Philips to Reiss Nelson’s path that managed to connect with the ball before Meisler could get his hands on it. It was a scrappy as you would ever see but in all honesty, the fans did not care as the Gunners were one up to the good.

The Gunners had a potential claim for a penalty when Gaetano Berardi allegedly fouled Lacazette in the box but Arsenal’s appeals to the ref fell on deaf ears. Arteta made his first substitution by summoning the recently fit Gabriel Martinelli for the goal scorer, Nelson.

The young Brazilian was eager to make up for lost time and turned out to be a constant nuisance to the opposition, with some slick touches showing off his technique. After receiving the ball from Pepe, Martinelli created some space for him and blasted the ball goalwards but White was on hand to make a superb block. The Brazilian had another go at the Leeds defense and was successful with a lovely shot to the far post but Meisler made a good save to deny the Brazilian the goal that would have put the game beyond doubt.

Late on VAR took center stage checking a potential red card for violent conduct when Barry Douglas caught Sokratis on the face but the Leeds defender did not receive a red card. At the sound of the final whistle, Arteta looked like a relieved man for turning around the contest.

With the draws already made, the Gunners will face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in the fourth round of the competition.

All focus moves to the crucial fixture against Crystal Palace this weekend.


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Arsenal 1-0 Leeds United: Player Ratings

Arsenal Reiss Nelson celebrating with his teammates

Reiss Nelson celebrating with his teammates

Arsenal struggled in the first 45 minutes but had enough in the tank to see out the threat Leeds United posed. The team I predicted was different from this evening’s starting lineup, as Mikel Arteta went for a stronger squad.

Here are the Gooner Daily player ratings:

Starting XI

Emiliano Martinez: The Argentine goalie was the standout performer for Arsenal in the first half, making some vital saves from the Leeds onslaught that kept his side in the contest. (9)

Sokratis Papastathopoulos: He played fielded as a right back in an experiment for the real battle against Wilfried Zaha this weekend but he acquainted himself well in an unfamiliar position. (7)

Rob Holding: His last game for the club was as far back as November 2019 and it was evident with some erratic passing that put his team under intense pressure. He struggled all game long. (5)

David Luiz: The experienced Brazilian made some clearances to sweep at the back but did not do enough to protect his partner in defense. (6)

Sead Kolasinac: Marauded the left flank but did not offer much in the final third. (6)

Granit Xhaka: He can consider himself lucky that Anthony Taylor was in a good mood because he should have been sent off due to persistent fouling. (5)

Matteo Guendouzi: He was overwhelmed in midfield and could not influence the game as he would have liked. (6)

Mesut Ozil: Covered lots of ground but did not offer much in the final third. (6)

Nicolas Pepe: Had a poor game by his fair standards, making little or no impact from his favored position. (5)

Reiss Nelson: Bar the goal which turned out to be the match winner, he struggled in the game. (5)

Alexandre Lacazette: He has not still picked up form but worked hard for the side with his endeavor and defensive works. (6)


Gabriel Martinelli: His introduction to the game breathed some life into the Arsenal attack and he showed off some brilliant touches. Unfortunate not to find the back of the net after some lovely footwork. (8)

Joe Willock: Did not offer much after replacing Ozil. (6)

Bukayo Saka: Did not play enough to earn a rating. N/A

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Leeds Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Image result for martinelli goal

Will Martinelli continue his good scoring run tonight?

Leeds visit the Emirates tonight to take on an Arsenal side building confidence from their win over Manchester United as well as the new tactical adjustments which took shape with each passing game.

The FA Cup, as you would expect, had some surprising results on one end, some routine results on the other and some potential upsets. Starting with the good ol’ upsets, Fulham defeated Aston Villa at Craven Cottage while Crystal Palace lost at home to Derby County.

A couple of potential upsets were avoided with the teams earning themselves replays –  Lucas Moura helped salvage a draw for Tottenham Hotspurs against Middlesbrough, Rochdale drew with Newcastle, while Watford drew 3-3 with Tranmere Rovers.

Arsenal are perennial challengers for the FA Cup and currently have the best record in the competition (13 trophies) but they were knocked out in two of their last three FA Cup ties, having lost just one from the last 22 before that. The loss to Nottingham Forest in the third round was a shocker, but losing to Manchester United, especially with conceding to Alexis Sanchez, was a bitter pill to swallow.

They have to be wary about a Leeds United side that currently dominate the Sky Bet Championship this season and are currently at the top of the table with 52 points. The visitors started the new year with a top of the table clash with West Brom that ended with both sides sharing the spoils. WBA’s Nigerian defender, Semi Ajayi, had a great influence in that game, scoring on both sides of the pitch.

Arsenal has met Leeds 17 times in the FA Cup and the fans will always remember our last meeting with the club in 2012, when our legendary top goal scorer, Thierry Henry, scored the only goal in a slender victory at the Emirates. Having Henry return to the club was surreal enough, but watching him score for the club after so many years was glorious to say the least.

Eddie Nketiah will have some strong interest in this game, bearing in mind that he is a Gunner but featured for the visitors this season, scoring five goals. I touched on what the future holds for him.

Arsenal Team News

Arsenal go into this game with great motivation from their win against their Premier League rivals, Manchester United, but Mikel Arteta will also be mindful of the fact that most of those players featured three times in just six days so most of the squad members deserve breathers.

I will expect Emiliano Martinez to resume his role as the Cup keeper ahead of Bernd Leno, while Rob Holding, that’s just returning from a lengthy injury layoff should start alongside Skhodran Mustafi in central defense.

I know the German is not in anyone’s good books following his torrid outing against Chelsea but the Gunners are short of numbers at the back so we will have to make do. Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will have to continue in their full back positions. I expect to see a shakeup in midfield with Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock in central midfield pulling the strings.

Mikel Arteta backed up Alexandre Lacazette for his effort and defensive works up top, but the French forward needs to score goals, so this game offers him that platform to find the back of the net. Reiss Nelson will be odds on to start ahead of Nicolas Pepe while Gabriel Martinelli will shake off his hamstring strain to flank Lacazette on the left hand side.

Arsenal Predicted Lineup


Arsenal 4-3-3 football formation


Leeds Team News

Leeds United are in good form in the Sky Bet Championship and the fact that they are in pole position with 52 points after 26 games is a testament of their quality and consistency.

Since losing to Millwall in early October, Leeds United has lost just one game (away to Fulham) in their last 16. Leeds picked up 10 victories and five draws, which included that promotion six-pointer against West Brom at the Hawthorns.

Leeds United rely on their top striker, Patrick Bamford, and his 10 goals in the league propelled them to the top of the division. Jack Harrison (5), Ezgjan Alioski (4), Helder Costa (3) and Pablo Hernandez (3) are influential in their campaign thus far. Unfortunately, they will be without Hernandez is out for a month with a hamstring injury.

Leeds Predicted Lineup

Leeds United 4-2-3-1 football formation

Injury Updates

Arsenal: Gabriel Martinelli (hamstring), Kieran Tierney (shoulder), Hector Bellerin (hamstring), Calum Chambers (knee)

Leeds United: Tyler Roberts (hamstring), Adam Forshaw (hip), Pablo Hernandez (hamstring)

Team Form Guide

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: L D D L W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United
  • Leading Goalscorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (15)

Leeds United Form

  • Last Five Games: D L D W D
  • Last Result: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Leeds United
  • Leading Goalscorer: Patrick Bamford (10)

Gooner Daily predicts a 2 – 0 Arsenal win.

Kick Off – 7.56pm at the Emirates Stadium


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