Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal: Gunners hold toothless Whites despite Pepe red card
Bernd Leno produced an inspired display as Arsenal secured a point against a Leeds side that wasted a host of chances.
Nicolas Pepe was sent off but Bernd Leno frustrated wasteful Leeds United with a string of fine saves as Arsenal ground out a goalless Premier League draw at Elland Road.
Pepe, who struck the crossbar in th first half, was shown a red card for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski early in the second half on a dismal Sunday afternoon in West Yorkshire.
Toothless Leeds were the better side before Pepe’s dismissal but they were unable to claim a first win over the Gunners since 2003, with Leno outstanding and Rodrigo and Patrick Bamford and Raphinha all striking the woodwork.
Arsenal defended well with 10 men to salvage a point, but they have gone over seven hours without scoring a goal from open play in the top flight, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang feeding on scraps after being given the chance to start down the middle.
Aubameyang felt Arsenal should have been awarded a penalty for handball against Liam Cooper late on, but VAR disagreed before Bamford headed against the post in a frantic finish.
9 – Arsenal have scored just nine goals in this season’s Premier League; it’s their lowest tally after their first nine games of any league season since 1986-87 (six). Lacking. #LEEARS pic.twitter.com/bj3uC8TFTO
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 22, 2020
Bamford poked tamely at Leno as Leeds warmed to the task after a sloppy start in the rain before a cross from Arsenal winger Pepe came back off the bar
Leno brilliantly palmed away Bamford’s volley with the Whites well on top, while Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klich and Luke Ayling snatched at opportunities to open the scoring before the break.
Arsenal needed to show more intensity, but they were dealt a major blow when Pepe was dismissed by referee Anthony Taylor following a VAR check after clashing with Alioski off the ball.
Leno came to the Gunners’ rescue again to turn a rasping drive from Dallas over the bar and Ayling could not sort his feet out when he had a golden chance laid on a plate for him by Raphinha.
Rodrigo replaced Ayling just after that missed opportunity as Marcelo Bielsa threw caution to the wind and the Spain forward smashed the bar with a superb left-footed strike 11 minutes from time.
Cooper was relieved when Aubameyang’s effort hit him on the arm in the area but struck his leg first before Illan Meslier superbly denied Bukayo Saka when he raced clear.
Bamford rose to nod against the woodwork with three minutes of normal time to play and Raphinha, making his first start, also rattled the post in stoppage time as Arsenal clung on.
What does it mean? Leeds must be ruthless, Arsenal show steel
Leeds will wonder how they failed to see off the Gunners and Marcelo Bielsa’s men have now won just one of their last six matches.
They had 25 shots, but only four were on target, striking the frame of the goal on three occasions as Arsenal were put under immense pressure but showed character to dig in for a point.
Both sides remain in the bottom half, with Arsenal 11th and Leeds 14th.
Leno inspired as Gunners roll their sleeves up
Arsenal have been too fragile in recent seasons, but they showed the sort of battling qualities that have been lacking on a grim afternoon.
Leno has had his critics, but the goalkeeper made superb reflex saves and deserved the fortune that Arsenal benefited from.
Rob Holding and Gabriel made 14 clearances between them and key interceptions, while Dani Ceballos – who this week denied having a training ground bust-up with David Luiz – won 15 duels, showing he was up for the fight.
Aubameyang starved of service
Much was made of Aubameyang being switched to a central role for the clash in West Yorkshire, but the captain was starved of service.
The Gabon international had three shots, but had to fashion opportunities for himself with Leeds dominant for much of the game.
Arsenal have now scored just one goal in their past five top-flight matches and that was a penalty from Aubameyang.