All issues being equal, Arsenal might need completed this absorbing contest feeling involved that 476 minutes have now handed since their final top-flight objective from open play. Instead they had been relieved to depart with a degree after Nicolas Pépé was rightly despatched off for a head butt, mushy however unlawful and totally idiotic, on Ezgjan Alioski six minutes after half-time and the fact is that extra scientific opponents would have taken benefit.
How this sport completed goalless is anyone’s guess and Arsenal, for all they had been placed on the ropes in direction of the top of every half, had openings of their very own. But Leeds, who hit the woodwork three times in the latter levels, will think about they must have gained given the variety of events they sliced by means of the guests’ again line.
Both sides had hoped to clear the fog of inconsistency however neither lineup regarded fully acquainted. In the injured Thomas Partey and the self-isolating Mohamed Elneny, Arsenal missed their midfield’s colossus and its conscience. Joe Willock obtained his first Premier League minutes of the season, and outwardly including dynamism to rival that of the hosts’ engine room.
Leeds may very well be relieved on the return from damage of their very own lynchpin, Kalvin Phillips, however discovered novelty worth in a primary begin on the suitable wing for his or her October signing Raphinha. It was on the other flank that they created the sport’s first vital alternative, although, and maybe Patrick Bamford may have made higher use of the possibility. Jack Harrison’s expertly-timed move ushered Alioski to the byline and Bamford, below some strain however solely six yards from objective, stabbed the ball into Bernd Leno’s arms.
A dozen minutes had handed and Arsenal, for his or her half, had already proven intent by way of a Dani Ceballos sighter that flew previous the submit. The first half proceeded in predictably open vein, frayed and flawed however awash with good intentions, either side displaying an urge for food to land blows however Leeds finally feeling they need to have gone in forward.
Arsenal’s greatest two moments each owed to additional tweaks from Mikel Arteta. First Pépé, recalled to the beginning lineup and showing on the left, beat Luke Ayling and swirled over a cross that hit the crossbar as a substitute of dipping below it. Then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, chosen at centre-forward for the primary time below Arteta in the hope that he is likely to be performed again into type, was provided the form of half-chance that ends objective droughts on day. He slashed extensive of the close to submit after good work from Ceballos, Pépé and Héctor Bellerín, and Leeds set about trying to make him pay.
Bamford gave Leno a extra exacting take a look at on the half-hour when volleying instinctively after Ayling’s centre had bounced awkwardly off Gabriel. The keeper, partly unsighted, saved one-handed to his proper however was in a position to look on shortly afterwards when a well-placed Stuart Dallas shot throughout objective. Leeds had been now overloading the wings recurrently and, two minutes before half-time, a fantastic transfer ended with Mateusz Klich lofting an Alioski cross over from a place that promised far more.
Regular college students of Arsenal’s work would have detected extra ambition in their passing, however the moments of sustained menace had emanated from Leeds. If Arteta had demanded extra aggression through the break then presumably Pépé’s lily-livered interpretation was not what he had in thoughts. Alioski got here out poorly from the incident, collapsing dramatically in the face of minimal contact. But the salient level was that there had been contact in any respect, Pépé pushing his brow into that of the Leeds left-back as the 2 jostled close to the Leeds penalty space with the ball yards away. A VAR examine instructed Anthony Taylor that the movement had been worthy of a red card and, whereas it barely registered as an act of violence, it was the form of grievous error that doesn’t assist Pépé’s popularity as one of the extravagantly unsuccessful signings in current top-flight historical past.
Arteta instantly changed Willock with Bukayo Saka. Initially Arsenal appeared unruffled and Aubameyang had the ghost of an opportunity when he spun however failed to attach correctly. It took Leeds till the sixty fourth minute to reprise their earlier incisiveness and, after they did, Leno got here to the rescue once more by pawing away Dallas’s rising drive.
They opened Arsenal up once more when Ayling misplaced management, and wasted a shot at punishing his former membership, after Raphinha had laid the ball on a plate. Ayling was immediately changed by Rodrigo, who introduced his arrival – and Marcelo Bielsa’s intent in making such an attacking change – by slicing in and capturing inches astray. He repeated the trick with 10 minutes left, leaving Leno standing however this time seeing his effort bounce off the highest of the bar.
The stage appeared set for a late cost however Arsenal’s risk had by no means fairly evaporated and so they may have stolen it when Saka, despatched away from Bellerín, tried to spherical Illan Meslier however was thwarted by the keeper’s game-saving block. There was nonetheless time for Bamford to move in opposition to a submit and Raphinha to clip the identical upright, leaving Pépé to really feel mightily grateful.