MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 2 – 0 Leeds United

Arsenal (0) 2 Leeds United (0) 0

Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) Fourth Round

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Tuesday, 26th October 2021. Kick-off time:7.45pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Cédric Soares, Rob Holding, Ben White, Sead Kolašinac; Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Nicolas Pépé, Emile Smith-Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli; Eddie Nketiah.

Substitutes: Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Nuno Tavares, Calum Chambers, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Folarin Balogun, Aaron Ramsdale.

Scorers: Calum Chambers (55 mins), Eddie Nketiah (69 mins)

Yellow Cards: Cédric Soares

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 44%

Referee: Andre Marriner

Assistant Referees: Harry Lennard, Scott Ledger

Fourth Official: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 59,126

As expected with the Carabao Cup matches, Mikel Arteta has made nine changes to the Arsenal side that featured in the victory over Aston Villa last Friday, and from that team, only Ben White and Emile Smith-Rowe keep their starting places. By the way, just in case anyone has forgotten, VAR will not be available in this competition until the semi-final stage.

Getting the tie underway, we were quite assertive in the early stages with our forwards testing the visitors’ defence on several occasions. Sead Kolašinac came very close to opening the scoring in the ninth minute when he picked up a loose ball after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was tackled on the edge of the penalty area, but his left-footed shot hit the side netting from close quarters. Our confidence was there for all to see as we started to stroke the ball around in midfield, looking for a way through a very tight Leeds United formation that seemed to cope with our constant probing and pushing. Although the visitors tested Bernd Leno on several occasions in the first twenty minutes, their efforts came to nothing and we managed to regroup and start again fairly easily. However, Daniel James ran through the Arsenal defence onto a long ball from Diego Llorente which looked very concerning, but fortunately Bernd Leno ran out and smothered the ball to neutralise the threat. Nicolas Pépé was unfortunate not to score when he had two goalscoring chances that went nowhere, but a couple of minutes later, Bernd Leno kept us in the match again when a driving Jack Harrison shot was superbly saved by him when his shot went low to his left. Leeds United started to push us back into our own half and although they caused us one or two problems at the back, we managed to hold them at bay. The match started to move from end to end now, and the pace begand to get frenetic, which was only broken up by a foul on Gabriel Martinelli by Cody Drameh in the midfield area. It was becoming noticeable that Leeds United were catching us on the break on several occasions in this half, and in doing so, looked quite dangerous. Three minutes before the break, our best chance of the first half came when Sead Kolašinac’s header from about ten yards from the visitors’ goal was headed off the line, and Emile Smith-Rowe blasted the ball wide from the edge of the penalty area, which was the last chance our forwards had before Andre Marriner blew his whistle signifying the hiatus.

The visitors started proceedings for the second half, and within a minute of the restart won a free-kick and commenced to stroke the ball around, but we managed to grab the ball off them and made a decent attempt to score before our attack was broken up by Leeds defenders. Nine minutes after the restart, Ben White went down with a recurrent injury, and Calum Chambers replaced him; within a minute he was in the fray, and incredibly scored the opening goal with his first touch of the ball! He met Nicolas Pépé’s clever knockback to power home a header that went just over the goalline. At first it looked like an awkward save by goalkeeper Illan Meslier, but after a glance at his watch, referee Andre Marriner awarded the goal; Calum Chambers then ran to the touchline to celebrate with Mikel Arteta and was mobbed by his team-mates, in celebration of an incredible couple of minutes in his career. After that, we certainly came alive and started to hunt for a second goal. Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pépé came mighty close after some clever play, and it looked like the momentum was with Arsenal now. After a terrible mistake by Liam Cooper, our man Eddie Nketiah just got there first, tipped it over the goalkeeper, and clipped the ball with the edge of his right foot, and the ball just rolled into the net, with under twenty minutes of the match remaining. After seventy-two minutes, Emile Smith-Rowe and Mohamed Elneny were replaced by Alexandre Lacazette and Albert Sambi Lokonga respectively; then a couple of minutes later, Nuno Tavares was substituted for an injured Rob Holding, and we continued to press for a third goal. We looked strong and confident now, as the visitors started to fade away, the minutes ticking past until the final whistle. Although the visitors started to push long balls deep into our half, the parade had already passed them by, as we managed to contain them. Just before injury time, Alexandre Lacazette was unlucky not to score when he took the ball from Kalvin Phillips, and blasted the ball over the bar from just outside the penalty area. In the four minutes injury time, although there were a few chances on goal, nothing materialised of any worthy comment, and so we ended the night as winners, advancing into the quarter-finals of this oft-maligned competition.

Although it could be said that the visitors put us under pressure at times during the first half, nothing was delivered, and in the end, we managed to regroup successfully and at times looked comfortable both on and off the ball as we managed to end the evening victorious. And, let us not forget, we kept a clean sheet against a Premiership club with nine replacements in the team, with eight matches undefeated across two competitions. A good evening all round.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, 30th October at 12.30pm(Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.


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