Leeds slip into relegation zone after Arsenal defeat


Leeds United’s relegation worries deepened on Sunday as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, as well as playing the majority of the game with ten men following Luke Ayling’s red card.

Eddie Nketiah was the difference between the two sides, scoring twice against the club he once had an unsuccessful loan spell with.

Having seen Burnley suffer defeat at home to Aston Villa on Saturday, Leeds came into this game knowing any sort of positive result would take them above the Clarets but will have been keenly aware that Everton’s result at Leicester would also have a massive bearing on the outcome.

The Whites started slowly and fell behind after five minutes when Illan Meslier dwelt on the ball for a little bit too long and Nketiah took advantage to charge the ‘keeper down and put the ball into the net.

It was a horrible start for Jesse Marsch’s side and things got worse just five minutes later when Gabriel Martinelli ran at Ayling and cut the ball back for Nketiah who once again found the back of the net, turning the ball into the far corner.

The striker has enjoyed a resurgence of late and his goals have been a welcome boost for Mikel Arteta after Alexandre Lacazette’s struggles.

Arsenal were rampant as Leeds struggled to get out of their own half. Bukayo Saka tested the nerves of Meslier while Cedric Soares blasted over while well placed.

Ayling then dealt his side a further blow with a two-footed lung on Martinelli. Referee Chris Kavanagh initially gave the defender a yellow card but after a VAR check, he overturned his previous decision and sent the right-back off.

Ayling will now miss the rest of the season and it leaves Leeds short in a key position, with Stuart Dallas also missing with a long-term injury.

Raphinha got booked in the aftermath and had to be calmed down by his teammates as Leeds threatened to collapse completely.

It is to their credit that they dug in. Diego Llorente made a good clearance after Martin Odegaard’s free kick was deflected while Meslier denied Martinelli who looked determined to score all game.

Leeds then got an unexpected route back into the game in the 66th minute when Llorente turned in Junior Firpo’s near-post header to score with their first shot of the game.

It gave the supporters some hope but being a man down, Leeds never truly looked like getting the all-important leveller even if Arsenal endured a nervier finish than they really should have.

It leaves the Gunners well placed for a top four finish and they can clinch Champions League football if they win at bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.

Everton got a big three points at Leicester which now means Leeds are in the bottom three. They have a vastly inferior goal difference to Burnley and need a result from somewhere to get ahead of the Clarets.

They face Chelsea on Wednesday and a hammering here may have been terminal for Marsch’s men but they showed enough fight to suggest they have the stomach to battle in the next couple of weeks.

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