Nicolas Pepe sees red as Arsenal draw with Leeds

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Arsenal sit in 11th while Leeds are 14th after the match.

Arsenal travelled to Elland Road for this evening’s Premier League fixture. The two sides met in the FA cup at the beginning of the year, Arsenal got the better of Leeds back then as crowds watched the Gunners collect a 1-0 win. Today was a different story as a hard-working Leeds side were unfortunate not to claim 3 points.

Both managers have their connection to Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa having mentored the Manchester City manager. Adversely, Mikel Arteta benefitted from his time as Pep’s assistant manager from 2016 to 2019. Experience nearly paid dividend as Bielsa outclassed the Arsenal manager, but his men were unable to break the deadlock.

As is the case with most Leeds’ matches, an exciting affair was promised. Although there was no goals scored, that proved to be the case.

Leeds controlled much of the game. Arsenal consistently failed to get out of their own half due to the high pressing of Leeds. When they did get into the final third, they failed to break down the Leeds’ defence – other than a few occasions – and were hit on the counter with regularity.

Patrick Bamford had the first big chance of the game in the 12th minute. Ezgjan Alioski’s great run and cross played Bamford in, but his touch was comfortably saved by Bernd Leno.

Arsenal man Nicolas Pepe very nearly opened the scoring in bizarre circumstances in the 20th minute. After beating his opposite number a handful of times, the Ivorian swung in a cross turned shot which rattled off the crossbar.

Bamford had another good chance come the 30th minute. After some good combination play from Mateusz Klich and Luke Ayling, the ball found its way into the box. After less than impressive defending from Gabriel, Bamford connected with ball on the half volley, but Bernd Leno produced a good save to keep the in-form striker out.

Stuart Dallas has played a lot of football this season already. The Northern Ireland international played 3 full 90 minutes during the international break as well as having played in every Premier League game thus far. He appears to be showing no signs of slowing down so far as he worked as hard as ever in this evening’s fixture. His persistence nearly paid off in the 33rd minute after a fortunate touch into his path gave him a chance while in space. Unfortunately for him, he shot wide of the mark.

The first half finished scoreless as Leeds controlled the majority of the play and shut out Arsenal at nearly every occasion.

Arsenal’s task became even more difficult in the 50th minute. £80 million man Nicolas Pepe was sent off for an off the ball incident involving Ezgjan Alioski. He walked down the tunnel in what was the first sending off of his professional career.

Bernd Leno produced a stunning save in the 63rd minute to deny Stuart Dallas. The Northern Irishman connected sweetly from just outside the box with his shot going into the top corner, but the German denied him with his agility and reflexes.

After a succession of missed half chances from Leeds, Rodrigo chance close in the 75th minute. The former Valencia forward unleashed a piledriver from distance which just whistled wide of the post. A few more inches to the right and it would have been a certain goal for the Spaniard.

Just minutes later, Rodrigo had another effort from range. This time, his shot from the edge of the box rattled the crossbar before going out to safety.

In an unlikely turn of events, substitute Bukayo Saka had a chance to give Arsenal the lead in the 84th minute. He was played through after a brilliant run and pass by Hector Bellerin but the new England star was unable to slot past the keeper despite being in space.

Leeds went close to a goal of their own in the 86th minute, a cross from Ian Carlo Poveda met the head of Patrick Bamford. Again, though, he squandered the chance as his effort hit the post.

To add to the misfortune of Leeds, Rodrigo hit the woodwork again in the 94th minute as the game ticked on.

That chance would prove to be the last as the match finished scoreless. Leeds can feel hard done by having controlled the majority of the game and creating most of the chances.

Arsenal play Wolves next weekend while Leeds play Everton as both teams will hope to collect 3 points.

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