Arsenal player ratings as they beat Leeds 2 – 1 at the Emirates
Arsenal saw their Premier League top four hopes grow on Sunday as a brace from Eddie Nketiah secured them a nervy 2-1 win over ten-man Leeds.
Mikel Arteta’s side came into this game on the back of a three-game winning run, with some selection question marks from the recent victory over West Ham.
In defence Takehiro Tomiyasu overcame a knock to start at left-back, with Nuno Tavares dropping out and Cedric moving to right-back. However, there was no place in the lineup for Benjamin White who wasn’t rushed back from a hamstring issue.
The forward line remained unchanged with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli flanking Eddie Nketiah.
Arsenal player ratings vs Leeds as Eddie Nketiah brace secured nervy 2-1 Premier League win to boost top four hopes
It was Nketiah who got Arsenal off to the perfect start when he chased down Meslier in goal and pounced on his indecision to score inside five minutes. And then before the clock struck ten he had his second as Martinelli’s neat cutback was swept home.
Luke Ayling then saw red just before the half hour mark with a hideous two-footed tackle on Martinelli, one he was originally booked for before being overturned to a red after VAR review.
After the break the Leeds players effectively doubled as training cones. Arsenal were completely dominant and never got troubled until the visitors’ first corner resulted in a goal for them with some dreadful defending seeing Llorente poke home at the far post.
That goal made the affair desperately nervy despite the Gunners’ having the lion’s share of the ball, and with hearts firmly in mouths, Arsenal managed to just about hold on. The heart can’t take this.
It means that a Champions League place can be sealed with victory in the North London Derby. What a game that will be.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 6/10 – Had absolutely nothing to do other than pick the ball out of the net. There were a couple of key takes, but he was untroubled.
Cedric Soares (RB) – 7/10 – Took care of the recovery runs early doors very well and supported the right side effectively. Had a few of his bang average crosses, as per, coupled with a few better ones.
Rob Holding (CB) – 7/10 – Was barely troubled even when Leeds had 11 men, which allowed Holding to have one of his more relaxing afternoons at the carpet where he could play with all the game in front of him.
Gabriel (CB) – 7/10 – Got himself a needless yellow card in the first half for a lunge he simply did not need to make, and that made him slightly nervier than he needed to be. However, at the end, he produced a match-winning challenge when his team needed him. A huge intervention.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (LB) – 8/10 – Played at left-back to deal with the threat of Raphinha, and had no troubles with the Brazilian at all. Being so comfortable on his left foot meant the shift over to that side didn’t trouble him. Comfortable on and off the ball.
Mohamed Elneny (CM) – 8/10 – When he get his head up it turns out Elneny can be a productive progresser of the ball. So clean on the ball across the whole game.
Exploited the spaces in behind the Leeds full-backs very well and, as ever, his calmness in possession when Arsenal were building up was the ideal pressure valve. Played a vital role in the dying stages when nerves were sky high.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – 6/10 – Ended up playing more as the left-sided No. 8 we had seen when Partey was fit (and eventually a No. 10) with Arsenal’s pressing and counter-pressing giving them territory in advanced areas, although he ended up getting caught in possession too often.
Got unnecessarily hot-headed. Again.
Martin Odegaard (AM) – 8/10 – Odegaard playing football should come with a NSFW warning tag.
Some of the one-touch football on show was divine. He glided across the pitch and linked with his forward majestically. He’s just a wonderful, wonderful footballer.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – 7/10 – Supporters got to bask in some of the delightful link-up play between Saka and Odegaard in this game, with the former giving Firpo an afternoon he won’t want to remember anytime soon.
Looked to be hobbling a bit and made way for Pepe.
Eddie Nketiah (ST) – 8/10 – The way Nketiah started the game set the tone for his performance. He chased every ball, was aggressive in the counter-press and constantly was on the move trying to disrupt the Leeds defence.
Taking his goals brilliantly and covering every base as the centre-forward, he was outstanding in the first half. Naturally space was harder to come by after the break but he still worked tirelessly.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 8/10 – Absolutely terrorised Ayling to the point that the defender decided trying to break his leg was the only way to survive the 90 minutes.
Key in this game was how often Martinelli got picked out, and when he was his touch was elegant in pushing him forward. There was a fabulous directness to his game throughout.
Nicolas Pepe – 4/10 – Had a few semi-decent interchanges with Odegaard but never caused much in the way of threat to the Leeds defence. Saw next to nothing of the ball, and when he did he looked so, so poor.
Emile Smith Rowe – 7/10 – Got involved plenty after coming on, seeking to operate in the half spaces and overload down the left. Some neat distribution, too.
Alexandre Lacazette – N/A – Not on long enough for a rating.
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