|Leeds United 0 v 0 Arsenal|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 22nd November 2020 Kick-off 16:30
Match Report: Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal - Whites lacked accuracy to shoot down Gunners
Sunday, 22nd Nov 2020 19:14 by Lucas Monk
Despite producing a markedly improved performance and finessing the better chances, Leeds United could, owing to some profligate finishing, only draw against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
With Kalvin Phillips having returned to the starting lineup, Leeds started in a sprightly manner and the first chance of many fell to Raphinha, who had received his first start in a white shirt since his October transfer from French outfit Rennes. Slick one-touch passing created the opportunity for the Brazilian, but he lost his footing and blazed his effort well over the bar with six minutes elapsed.
Seven minutes later, Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison combined to present Patrick Bamford with an opening. The industrious forward could only stab his shot straight into the gloves of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
The Gunners did not enjoy their first real foray forward until the 22nd minute, when Nicolas Pepe’s cross caught out Illan Meslier and smacked the crossbar. Three minutes later, Hector Bellerin seized upon Robin Koch’s wayward pass and fed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who could only fire the ball over the top.
It was Leeds, however, making all of the running. Raphinha was once again involved in the 28th minute, as he came close to producing a pearler of a goal. He played a neat one-two with Alioski before rifling the ball narrowly wide of the post with Leno scrambling.
Leno then had to be attentive to keep out Bamford’s volley, before Stuart Dallas, making his 200th appearance for United, spurned the best opportunity of the first half, running on to Harrison’s cross before drilling the ball wide.
After a goalless first half, there was a flashpoint seven minutes into the second when Pepe headbutted Alioski. Following a short VAR review of the incident, the Frenchman received his marching orders.
Raphinha was enjoying a lively first start, and was once again at the heart of matters when, in the 64th minute, he played a splitting pass into the path of Dallas, whose fierce shot Leno did well to keep out. 10 minutes thereafter, the Brazilian floated in a good cross, but Bamford could only nod wide.
Leeds refused to relent in their pursuit of an opening goal, with Marcelo introducing Rodrigo to help the side’s cause. The act almost had an instant impact. In the 77th minute, the Spaniard shifted the ball onto his left foot and unleashed a venomous drive that flew inches over the top corner of the net.
Three minutes later, Rodrigo hit the crossbar. Once again he let fly with his left foot, sending an arching shot toward the top corner, but the ball touched the crossbar and bounced clear.
Arsenal attacks were scarce in this match, but Meslier found himself called into action to deny substitute Bukayo Saka, after the young winger raced clear of the Leeds backline and attempted to round the Frenchman.
Arsenal did not sneak a winner, in the end, but it was equally not United’s day, either.
Bamford, who had threatened to trouble the scoresheet on several occasions prior, rattled the post with a glancing header.
Raphinha then came close to capping off a lively and impressive showing with the winning goal in injury time, but he too could only find the post, and United had to settle for a draw despite enjoying much the better of the match.
Leeds can take heart from a confident and assured display that yielded numerous efforts on goal and some mouthwatering passages of play, but they will have to address, one feels, the growing issue of their profligacy in front of goal. Make no mistake, Arsenal were mightily fortunate to escape West Yorkshire with a point. Bielsa and his charges really should have had all three.
A slightly disappointing outcome, given the run of play and the sending off of Arsenal’s Pepe, should not detract from the fact that this must rank as one of Leeds’s best performances of the season. They restricted Arsenal to very little in an attacking sense, a welcome change from the recent heavy defeats to Leicester City and Crystal Palace, and played more than well enough to win the match.
The importance of the return of Phillips cannot be stressed enough. He is the calm centre of things, the fulcrum of the team, the glue that binds it all together. United will certainly need him to be at the peak of his powers when they make the difficult trip to Goodison Park next week.
Unused subs: Casilla, Davis, Struijk, Costa, Roberts.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Pepe, Willock (Saka 57’, Maitland-Niles 90+2’)), Willian (Nelson 46’); Aubameyang.
Unused subs: Runarsson, Lacazette, Mustafi, Nketiah.
Match Statistics (Leeds / Arsenal):
Possession: 66% / 34%
Shots: 25 / 9
On target: 4 / 2
Corners: 5 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 8
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Booked: Cooper, Dallas, Phillips (Leeds).
Sent off: Pepe (Arsenal).
Man of the match: Raphinha (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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