It would be unfair to reduce this game to a single flashpoint as the lack of goals says nothing of an exciting, often breathless competition that deserves it far better. Leeds should have deepened Arsenal’s fears, but their anger at failing to do so can be explained by a skirmish that tipped the scales firmly in their favor.
Nicolas Pépé and Ezgjan Alioski had been embroiled in a restrained running match early in the second half and after a fit outside the Leeds area with the ball several meters away, the left-back fell to the ground and clutched his face. It took a VAR review to confirm Anthony Taylor that Pépé had pressed his forehead into that of his opponent. The motion was clear enough to qualify as violent behavior, even if Alioski’s reaction was almost as reprehensible.
Nobody would say that Pépé had committed an act of brutality, but it was as idiotic a maneuver as they come. His failure to box cleverly and rise above any antagonism left his teammates exposed to opponents who had already shown they could cut through with scalpel-like precision.
« Very clear, it is unacceptable, » said Mikel Arteta of Pépé’s indiscretion, confirming that he had also informed his player. We knew how intense, aggressive, and lively they are in any situation and that is something to deal with. one???? Arteta had already spent an undesirable portion of the past week dealing with disciplinary violations involving David Luiz, Dani Ceballos and Willian.
He must have felt particularly angry because he had given Pépé a relatively rare top start, moved Willian to the left and allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a much-anticipated run in the center forward. Pépé glanced at the crossbar with an idiosyncratic cross in the first half, but ultimately threw Arteta’s confidence back and added to the frustrations the manager has already voiced about such a Quicksilver player who has not yet fully embraced his demands.
At least the rest of his players dug themselves in and did admirable work, clinging to one point and creating a late chance to get all three when substitute Bukayo Saka tried to circumvent Illan Meslier but was thwarted by a game-saving block. But that would have left Leeds, who shot 25 of the game’s 34 shots, completely disappointed. Their disappointment at not winning was clear enough: if their dazzling approach and the almost unplayable overloads on the flanks had been dealt with once they had achieved the result they deserved.
« The game had two moments, » said Marcelo Bielsa. The first hour when we played 11 against 11 dominated the game and didn’t allow the opponent to react, and the last half hour when the dominance was even clearer and more offensive, we did enough to earn a head start. â ????
When Alioski wasn’t finished, he was behind much of Leedsâ ???? best job forming left-sided dovetails with Jack Harrison that Arsenal couldn’t handle. A cut in the 12th. Minute should have possibly brought a better reward than Patrick Bamford’s thrust into Bernd Leno’s arms, but there were many more openings as to where that came from.
Before the break, Leno had saved Bamford far better, blocking his volley with one hand after a mistake by Gabriel took the chance and watched Stuart Dallas pull a chance. Mateusz Klich was at the end of a fine move when halftime approached but his shot went off. Leeds might feel disappointed at this point, but more agony was to come.
Arsenal lost Willian at halftime to an injury and Pépé’s indiscretion distorted them further. « It’s the first time I’ve heard it, » said Bielsa of suggestions Alioski has a penchant for needle. That doesn’t mean you are wrong. He may be using these resources and I hadn’t noticed. â ????
Leeds gathered for a whirlwind of a past half hour. Leno moved spectacularly away from Dallas and was relieved when Luke checked Ayling wrongly in front of the gate. Remarkably, Bielsa’s team hit the wood three times in the last 10 minutes. Rodrigo, whose arrival from the bench increased their attack intensity one more step, cut into it and leaned on the top of the bar with his left foot before Bamford came even closer and hit the post. Raphinha hit the outside of the same post as the seconds ran out and somehow Arsenal’s stoicism deserved a reward.
Under the circumstances, it may not have been the night to worry about the fact that 476 minutes have now passed since Arsenal scored an open game in the Premier League. This goalscorer’s identity may have been predictable for Pépé, but he’ll have to wait at least three games before making a similar contribution. « I really liked the team’s personality when Pépé let the team down. « Arteta said sharply. At some point it has to be more than a damage control measure.
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Arsenal F. . C.. . , Leeds United, Premier League, Mikel Arteta, Nicolas Pépé, Marcelo Bielsa
World news – AU – Arteta angry with Pépé for « unacceptable » red card in Arsenal’s stalemate in Leeds
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