Arsenal laboured through a ‘lucky’ win at Elland Road, with Leeds United proving a difficult nut to crack for Mikel Arteta.
Nine wins out of ten, and this is Arsenal’s best-ever start to a Premier League season in history. Bukayo’s Saka’s stunning first-half strike proved enough to secure three points. Leeds United put on a fantastic show in the second half, as the Gunners stood firm to the challenge amid plenty of controversies.
The game suffered a massive delay of around 40 minutes due to a power failure at Elland Road. After the re-start, both teams were looking to attack, but fewer chances came.
Saka lashed onto a loose ball from Rodrigo and passed it to Martin Odegaard. The Gunners’ skipper sent a perfectly weighted through ball towards Saka, who smashed it in the roof of the net from an acute angle. Arteta’s side then took the lead into the break as a challenging second period awaited the league leaders.
Leeds made one change by replacing Rodrigo with Patrick Bamford. The striker made an immediate impact with a quick-fire equaliser which was ruled out. It wasn’t to be the Leeds forward’s afternoon as the game progressed.
Arsenal are off to their best-ever start to a top-flight season ♨️ pic.twitter.com/oa9bWmSfgR
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 16, 2022
Leeds were awarded a penalty after William Saliba handled the ball inside the area. Bamford, chasing an elusive 100th league goal, missed the spot kick as the Arsenal defenders gathered around Aaron Ramsdale in jubilation. The home side were not finished, nor were the controversies around the game.
Jesse Marsch’s side was visibly the better team in the second half, as they rattled Arsenal repeatedly. The Gunners could not find ways to control proceedings, thus allowing the opposition to dictate the game. Leeds had chance after chance and yet couldn’t find the elusive equaliser.
With six minutes of extra time, there was an incident inside the box after a tussle between Gabriel and Bamford. On initial viewing, the referee awarded Leeds another penalty and a red card to the Arsenal defender. VAR intervened, effectively ruling out the spot kick and cancelling the straight red.
It was a close call for Arsenal, who were suspected of dropping points here. As things stand, Arsenal secured their three points and remains on top of the league irrespective of other results.
Aaron Ramsdale – 8/10
Ramsdale was colossal in goal and earned his clean sheet at Elland Road. The keeper made a brilliant save in the first half, and for the penalty, he stood big despite Bamford’s shot going wide off the mark. Moreover, his presence in the box was huge, and he commanded his area precisely.
Ben White – 7/10
A good shift, but Ben White was kept busy by Luis Sinisterra on the flank. There were some forward runs in the first half, but he was restricted in his half in the second period.
William Saliba – 6/10
The pressure was showing on the young defender, as there were some nervy moments in this game. At times, Saliba was loose in possession and conceded a costly penalty, which somehow missed the target. Ramsdale bailed the defender out a few times, but this game is worth forgetting for the centre-back.
Gabriel Magalhaes – 7/10
A moment of madness late in the game could have cost Arsenal dearly. Time and again, Gabriel’s rash behaviour has been highlighted and had VAR not intervened, the defender would have been sent off and conceded a very late penalty which would have seen his team drop points. Defensively, his numbers were staggering as he otherwise had a fantastic outing at the back.
Gabriel's game by numbers vs. Leeds:
100% aerial duels won
90% pass accuracy
9 duels contested
8 duels won
And zero red cards. 😅 pic.twitter.com/CmgVBqAglj
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 16, 2022
Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10
Tomiyasu did not enjoy this game as he found managing the Leeds players on his wing challenging. Looked far more comfortable when he switched to the right side after Kieran Tierney’s introduction.
Thomas Partey – 5/10
Partey failed to bring his usual assuredness on the ball and never got into his rhythm to dictate play. He found himself in a back-to-the-wall situation for the entirety of the second half, as somehow Arsenal passed a difficult test.
Granit Xhaka – 6/10
Xhaka was nowhere near his attacking self, as he found himself defending the ball. The failure of Arsenal’s midfielders on the ball allowed Leeds to dictate the game and never let the Gunners get going with their own game.
Martin Odegaard’s first half by numbers vs. Leeds:
91% pass accuracy
3/4 long balls completed
2/3 dribbles completed
2/3 ground duels won
2 key passes
Control. ✨ pic.twitter.com/oumQODnZUT
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 16, 2022
Martin Odegaard – 8/10
Odegaard was Arsenal’s brightest attacking player in the game, and he didn’t last the entire match. The Norwegian was critical in a few attacking moments in the first period and created the Saka goal with a perfectly weighted pass.
Bukayo Saka – 7/10
Like many of his attacking colleagues, Saka never got into his rhythm. However, he could find the net from a difficult angle, and in the end, the strike proved to be the match-winner, which he will gladly take.
Another win and another goal 😝
God is great 🙌🏿 pic.twitter.com/Hh3yFZtDV2
— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) October 16, 2022
Gabriel Jesus – 5/10
A quiet game by his standards, as Gabriel Jesus was on the periphery for most of the game. Maybe the midweek injury kept him somewhat anonymous, but he did have a few moments of good football.
Gabriel Martinelli – 7/10
Martinelli worked hard as always and had his few moments in the attacking third. He found himself more in the defensive third, as he played a significant role in helping out his team at the back.
Fabio Vieira – 5/10
As Arteta sought to control the ball more and probably create another goal to kill the game, he sent on Vieira for Odegaard. However, the midfielder barely had any impact, although he did help out at times with keeping the ball.
Kieran Tierney – 6/10
Tierney added a bit of energy in defence as Arsenal faced wave after wave of Leeds attacks.
Rob Holding – 6/10
Added some much-needed assuredness at the back when things looked bleak in central defence.
Eddie Nketiah – 5/10
Nketiah added some fresh legs and allowed Arsenal to see off the remainder of the game.
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