It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were closer to the relegation places than the top four. Now though, we’ll be sitting in 4th place when the big fella dressed in red and white, starts climbing down chimneys. Last season, a real star was born. We knew he was good but since he was given a start on Boxing Day, he’s never looked back. This year, another star has been born and like Emile Smith Rowe, we knew he was good but now he’s much better than good. Gabriel Martinelli has been fantastic since the day Mikel Arteta finally brought him back into the team. The two of them, together with Bukayo Saka, have to be one of the youngest, yet most exciting attacking unit in the Premier League.
The two old men in the team had a say in both of Martinelli’s goal. Lacazette with the first, Xhaka with the second. The Frenchman had a small say in Saka’s goal too as far as confusing the Leeds defence goes but the finish was all about our number 7. And a slight deflection perhaps. The fourth was a thing of beauty. Smith Rowe nicked possession from Leeds on the left, played the ball to Odegaard, who headed towards goal. Smith Rowe made his run into the box and Odegaard found him with a little chip which fell just right for our number 10 to hit first time.
I read that Arsenal had 11 shots on target during the first half, the most by any side in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League match since Opta started registering such statistics in 2003-04. Yes, since our Invincible season. We should have gone into the break leading 5-0 at least. Some people are never happy eh? Me I mean, and Mikel Arteta:
Unfortunately, we didn’t score more. I think we had some big big chances but that’s what I like, the way we played, we came here and we imposed ourselves and we really wanted to play. That’s something we have to improve on because in the second half when the game is there, we didn’t do it as well and with the consistency that we need [to for] where we have to get to.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Leeds Utd weren’t very good but that’s not Arsenal’s fault. Mikel Arteta’s players still had to turn up in the right frame of mind to get the job done and that’s exactly what they did. It was another game of two halves really. The first showed how good Arsenal can be, the second, I’d like to think because of preserving energy, our performance went a bit flat.
Ben White has a bad habit of going to ground when he really doesn’t need to and did it again yesterday, giving Leeds Utd a chance to pull a goal back from the penalty spot which they duly accepted. Nice try Aaron Ramsdale but all his fist pumping and back slapping of White, wasn’t going to fool Andre Marriner. “Game on” said the Sky Sports commentary team. As if! Smith Rowe came off the bench to replace Saka and as said, made it 4-1.
Overall though, I thought we were very good and as much as Leeds had their struggles with injuries, Arsenal have had their own problems on the road against sides who’ve previously been playing badly. Yesterday though, after Leeds started brightly, we really did click. As said, we have a great combination of players up front who can cause any defence problems but put a ruthless striker into the mix and our goal tally would soon increase. Ideally, Flo Balogun will go out on loan after Christmas and become that player. One of them anyway as if Lacazette goes, Eddie too, I think we’ll need more than one.
The game was marred by an idiot or two who during the first half were throwing racial abuse at the Arsenal bench where Pepe and Tavares were sat. Rob Holding told the fourth official and as a result, one man has already been arrested. I imagine other arrests will follow. I hope they can be put before a magistrate before Friday and have their Christmas lunch behind bars.
Lastly, rumours are rife that both Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sambi Lokonga were left out of the squad because both tested positive for Covid-19. I’ve not seen anything confirmed or denied by Arsenal as yet.
Sunderland up next in the League Cup.
See you in the comments.