Whites beaten away from home.
Arsenal 2 (Nketiah 5’, 10’)
Leeds United 1 (Llorente 66’)
Arsenal: Ramsdale (GK), Gabriel, Saka (Pepe 68’), Odegaard (C), Holding, Soares, Tomiyasu, Elneny, Nketiah (Lacazette 90’), Xhaka, Martinelli (Smith-Rowe 78’). Subs not used: Leno (GK), Tavares, Lokonga, Oulad M’hand, Swanson, Patino.
Leeds: Meslier (GK), Ayling (C), Firpo, Koch, Raphinha (Rodrigo 60’), Llorente, James, Harrison, Phillips, Gelhardt (Struijk 29’), Klich (Bate 45’). Subs not used: Klaesson (GK), Hjelde, Cresswell, Greenwood, Shackleton, Gray.
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Booked: Gabriel, Tomiyasu (Arsenal) Raphinha, Klich (Leeds)
Sent-off: Ayling (Leeds)
Leeds United suffered defeat in North London after they were unable to recover from a disastrous start against Arsenal, despite a battling second half display which offered them hope of taking something from the game.
Jesse Marsch’s side got off to the worst possible start, conceding inside just five minutes of the game. Eddie Nketiah was the scorer as he charged down Illan Meslier when the goalkeeper had the ball and in doing so, diverted it into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Just five minutes later, the home side doubled their lead. Bukayo Saka broke free down the left wing and had time to pick out Nketiah in the middle of the box, who finished first time to get his and Arsenal’s second of the game.
The Gunners continued to dominate the game and came close extending their lead through Saka, but Meslier made a strong save to deny the forward.
Leeds were then reduced to 10 players as their torrid start to the game continued. Following a VAR check, Luke Ayling was shown a straight red card for a foul on Gabriel Martinelli. Pascal Struijk came on in place of Joe Gelhardt following the dismissal.
A few minutes before the half-time whistle - which Leeds needed to regroup - Diego Llorente produced an excellent acrobatic clearance to stop the ball going over the line, from Martin Odegaard’s deflected free-kick.
HALF TIME: Arsenal 2-0 Leeds United
Lewis Bate entered the action during the break, replacing Mateusz Klich in central midfield, as the Whites came out looking to salvage something from the game.
With the home side having a one-player advantage on the pitch and a two-goal advantage on the scoreline, the task was proving difficult for Jesse Marsch’s side, who struggled to retain possession when they were able to win the ball back.
Further efforts came from Martinelli who was operating down the left hand side of the pitch, whilst both Nketiah and Saka had efforts of their own blocked as Arsenal went in search of further goals.
The travelling supporters in the far corner of the Emirates Stadium were exceptional as always, and their continued support of their team saw them offered hope, with 25 minutes remaining.
An in-swinging corner from Kalvin Phillips was met by the head of Junior Firpo who flicked the ball to the back post, where Llorente was there to volley home and reduce the deficit to just the one-goal.
The Whites kept pushing forward and were desperately searching for an equaliser, which saw Meslier sent up for a late corner which Arsenal cleared, then a free-kick a couple of minutes later brought about another chance.
Phillips played the ball into the middle which again Firpo was first to reach, he flicked a header into Rodrigo, who in turn had his own header on goal but frustratingly, Aaron Ramsdale saved.
That was the last action of a much better second half performance from Marsch’s side, but they came up short against the Gunners.
FULL TIME: Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United