Leeds United v Arsenal: Wenger says Whites can return to the top

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed Leeds United were ready to "come back into the Premiership" after the Gunners came safely through an FA Cup replay at Elland Road.

United's attempt to cause a third-round upset at the second attempt failed in the face of a clinical and skilful performance from Arsenal, but Wenger paid the highest tribute to Simon Grayson's squad by insisting that they were good enough to merit a place in the Premier League.

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Leeds will turn their attention back to the Championship when they defend a play-off position at Portsmouth on Saturday, but the club left their mark on Arsenal's manager at the end of last night's 3-1 defeat having held his players to a 1-1 draw in the initial third-round tie in London on January 8.

Wenger said: "Leeds in the two games impressed me with the way they were organised, their spirit and their physical qualities as well. They have a chance to come back into the Premiership."

Early goals from Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna effectively consigned

United to defeat, but Grayson's side made Arsenal fight for their place in the fourth round after Bradley Johnson replied with a sublime finish from 20 yards minutes before half-time.

Substitute Robin van Persie eventually settled the tie with a late header but Grayson was deeply impressed by the comparison drawn over two matches between his team and Wenger's.

Grayson said: "If you're going to get knocked out, you might as well get knocked out by one of the best teams in Europe if not the world.

"We went out fighting and we've shown great spirit and some real quality. The players can be very proud of what they've done, and it's been a proud time for the club and the city. But Arsenal's class came through in the end."

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, whose 90th-minute penalty had rescued Arsenal from an early exit at the Emirates Stadium, said: "We didn't know much about them but they played very well at the Emirates. Tonight, we were much more superior. We were fantastic."

United defender Andy O'Brien is a doubt for Saturday's clash with Portsmouth after suffering a hamstring strain.

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