Leeds create open matches – but bizarre that when a team is 4-1 up there are still worries about winning the match.
At 4-2 with around 20 minutes to go, Leeds had a penalty shout, which would have made it interesting – bringing back memories of Newcastle a decade ago. But with Leeds in the ascendancy, Arteta brought on Elneny and Holding and stemmed the flow.
Aubameyang was back along with Leno, Ceballos, and Luiz; Odergaard got his first start in the middle of a young midfield comprising Saka on the right and Smith Rowe, the left. Creativity incarnate.
Leeds were disrupted with key defensive midfielder Philipps out. But with such a multi-functional side it needn’t have been too much of a problem. The last Premiership visit from the Yorkshire side was in 2004 when they got tanked 5-0 with Henry dominant with four. But this side is the antithesis of the hard Leeds side of the seventies and eighties.
Arsenal started fast, which as things turned out was important, and had a three-in-one effort in the first minute with shots and rebounds from Odegaard, Cedric and Smith Rowe. Aubameyang pulled it back for Bellerin who sent it way over the bar.
The right footed Cedric playing on the left meant an opportunity for a cross went missing, emphasising the loss of Kieran Tierney.
Bamford who has scored as many as Arsenal at home (12) this season, headed on target from a Harrison cross.
Aubameyang, looking like the business, and not carrying what previously looked like a heavy weigh in his aura, ran onto a Xhaka pass, twisted, and turned Ayling before cutting inside and firing inside Meslier’s near post.
A good Los Merengues move between Ceballos and Odergaard. Petered out and Klich fired over after being set up by Raphinha. The Brazilian, from the same club national club as Gabriel, was beginning to be a threat on the right and found Harrison who shot straight at Leno.
Luiz ran right through with a one-two with Saka and found Aubameyang whose goal-bound shot was intercepted over by Ayling. Arsenal needed a second, given the free-flowing nature of the Leeds team and the error prone vibe just bubbling under the surface.
Saka drove into the Leeds area and Cooper leant into him and the nineteen-year-old fell. It was overruled by Stuart Atwell. The vibe – a Leeds comeback was on the cards.
Saka who was bursting with energy, tackled Meslier who was dawdling trying to move the ball to his right foot and was given the penalty. Aubameyang fired it high to Meslier’s right.
Saka kept the ball dribbling across the area to Aubameyang who lobbed to Smith Rowe, who found Ceballos who set Bellerin free to fire near post past Meslier.
Costa and Roberts came on for Harrison and Klich for Leeds.
Saka created problems yet again and the rebound found Smith Rowe in the area whose effort found Aubameyang who headed home for his first Premiership hat-trick.
Raphinha shot and Leno saved. From the corner, Struijk lost Saka and Luiz and powered a header into the top of the net.
Smith Rowe came off for Willian after 61 minutes. A defensive move to shore up the left.
Odergaard set up Bellerin but his touch was poor, and the chance came to nothing.
Raphinha got a chance from a poor clearance from Ceballos but fired wide.
Raphinha sent a pass to Roberts beating Bellerin, and the sub crossed to his fellow sub, Costa to fire home.
Memories of Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 ten years ago?
Saka won the ball in midfield, sent it out to the right and nearly met Bellerin’s cross in the Leeds area.
Aubameyang hit the crossbar from a first time shot from Xhaka’s fast pass.
Elneny came on for Odergaard on 77.
Saka hit the post from a neat move set up by Willian – but was offside.
Ayling got the byline and crossed but Luiz did enough to put Huggins off. Then Cedric sent in a swerver – saved by Meslier – who retained his composure.
Holding came on for Ceballos, who filled in for the injured Partey (hamstring) with two minutes left.
Auba said: “I’m really happy. My kids will be happy as they get the ball. I’m happy about our performance. They (Leeds) never gave up and fought a lot. We had good game management at the end.”
“It is important to show this is our home and we are expected to win it.”
On the goal: “sometimes you have to change the way you shoot. The goalkeeper was expecting the left.
“I’m a guy who works hard and tries my best for my family and team as well.”
On his familiy issues: “Everyone was giving me a lot of love. Thankyou to everyone at the club and the fans. And this is for them.”
Mikel Arteta said: “I’m very pleased with result and performance. They make life difficult. You have to have high demands in every action with and without the ball. At half-time I said they will never give up. They’ll throw everything at us. They make it hard.
“With every action you have to pay attention. In any situation they take advantage.
“I’m pleased with the amount of chances, the type of goal and attacking patterns. Auba has been good in training and wanted to help the team.
On Odergaard’s performance: “he’s not played a lot of football – and he showed a lot of personality.
Bielsa said: “The two halves were very different. It was very generous of Klich to play – he was not 100%. We could have finished the first half with a smaller margin. We could have controlled it better.
“And in the second half even though we conceded we fought a lot to get back into the game. We could have got the third goal which could have made the end of the game different.”
Arsenal: 1Leno, 2Bellerín, 23David Luiz, 6Gabriel, 17Cédric Soares, 8Ceballos (Substituted for Holding at 89m), 34Xhaka, 7Saka, 11Ødegaard (Substituted for Elneny at 78m), 32Smith Rowe (Substituted for Willian at 62m), 14Aubameyang
Leeds: 1Meslier, 46Shackleton, 2Ayling, 6Cooper, 10Alioski (Substituted for Huggins at 53m), 21Struijk (Booked at 70m), 18Raphinha, 15Dallas (Booked at 90m), 43Klich (Substituted for Roberts at 45m), 22Harrison (Substituted for Hélder Costa at 45m), 9Bamford