Arsenal secured a hard-fought three points at Leeds United with Bukayo Saka’s first-half stunner earning the Gunners a 1-0 victory on Sunday.
Arsenal were looking to extend their lead at the top of the league while Leeds manager Jesse Marsch knew that a win could take his team to mid-table and take some of the pressure off.
Both sides had to contend with a delay almost immediately after the kick-off, with a power cut forcing a gap of more than 30 minutes before the restart.
Just after half an hour had eventually been played, Saka rifled into the top of the net from an Arsenal counter, but Leeds also had chances.
In the second half, Patrick Bamford thought he had equalised seconds after coming on, but his effort was disallowed for handball.
William Saliba then handballed in the box on 62 minutes and a VAR review led to a penalty, but Bamford stepped up to send it wide.
Arsenal defender Gabriel saw red in injury time when shoved over by Bamford, as the Brazilian lashed out with his feet against the striker in retaliation, but the referee overturned his own decision on a VAR review, and Mikel Arteta’s men held on for the win.
TALKING POINT – ARSENAL ARE TOUGH ONCE AGAIN
Like most things in the world, it could all go to nought in an instant as soon as you get comfortable, but right now, Arsenal appear to have cast aside their old mentality.
In the past they would break when prodded, but now they are willing to fight back and appear unified on the pitch. When Gabriel’s red card was rescinded, the righteous fury in their celebrations reflected an increased desire to hold on for victory.
It will take some fortune for them to keep up this form and hold off Manchester City, but Mikel Arteta is building a decent Gunners side.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – AARON RAMSDALE (ARSENAL)
With the Qatar World Cup ahead of us it is time for Gareth Southgate to decide between Ramsdale and Jordan Pickford. On today’s showing and his form so far this season, it would be foolish to leave Ramsdale on the bench. His early interventions kept Leeds from making the most of their chances, and he was alert when Bamford came on too.
Leeds United: Meslier 6, Struijk 6, Kristensen 6, Koch 6, Cooper 5, Adams 5, Roca 6, Aaronsen 6, Harrison 6, Sinisterra 6, Rodrigo 5. Subs: Klich 6, Summerville 6, Gelhardt 6, Bamford 5.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 7, Gabriel 7, Saliba 7, White 6, Tomiyasu 6, Martinelli 6, Xhaka 5, Partey 5, Odegaard 6, Saka 7, Jesus 6. Subs: Vieira 7, Holding 6,Tierney 6, Nketiah 6.
21’ – JESUS MISS – At the other end Arsenal attack, Odegaard flicks the ball into the path of Jesus, and he lifts the ball over the top of the bar.
35’ – GOAL! LEEDS 0-1 ARSENAL – SAKA SCORES – Saka is slipped in down the inside right of the box by Odegaard and from an acute angle the young winger rifles a shot high into the roof of the net.
46’ – BAMFORD ON – And he scores from a knock-down. But it’s disallowed for handball!
62’ – PENALTY – Saliba is penalised for a foul in the area. He turned to control a dropping ball and it fell onto his arms.
64’ – MISSED! – Bamford strikes the ball low and hard towards the bottom right corner, but it goes inches wide.
90+2’ – RED CARD! GABRIEL IS OFF – Bamford shoved into him, the Brazilian lashed out with his feet in the box. The referee checks VAR and decides to tone things down and give Bamford a yellow instead.