'I really like them' - Mikel Arteta makes Leeds United admission after Gunners topple Whites

Mikel Arteta hailed a "great" Arsenal performance after the Gunners put depleted Leeds United to the sword.

By Joe Urquhart
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 8:37 pm
Updated Saturday, 18th December 2021, 8:40 pm

The North Londoners ran out 4-1 winners at Elland Road in Premier League action on Saturday evening.

Two goals from Gabriel Martinelli and an effort from Bukayo Saka put the visitors three goals ahead at the half-time break.

Leeds hit back with 15 minutes to go from the penalty spot as winger Raphinha smashed home from 12-yards following Ben White's loose tackle on youngster Joe Gelhardt.

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Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta reacts during the Gunners win over Leeds United. Pic: Getty

Second half substitute Emile Smith Rowe, though, stepped off the bench to bag a fourth and end any hopes of an unlikely fightback for the Whites.

Marcelo Bielsa saw 10 players ruled out due to injury and suspension for the clash with his matchday squad filled with academy players in LS11, including 15-year-old Archie Gray.

"It's always very difficult to play against them. If you look at any opponent [against them], it's never easy," Arteta reflected post-match.

"[At] the Etihad it was different but at Stamford Bridge they [Leeds] were amazing. They are a team I really like. I am pleased because against this team and in this stadium, it can be difficult.

"It was a great performance from the lads. They're the ones who have to execute [the game plan] against a team who are uncomfortable to play against. We've had three games in a week, very physical games. I'm very pleased.

"We had some intentions. I think the players understood the game really well. We were really effective and in the first half we were really good. I think we deserved these three wins and we're really pleased.

"We were really lucky to play today with everything that’s happening. I told the players to enjoy the game and give everything because I don’t know how this will develop."

Arteta also confirmed that an incident of alleged racist abuse occurred during the first half at Elland Road near the visiting dugout.

Referee Andre Marriner briefly halted the game around the half hour mark to report the issue.

"Unfortunately I can confirm that," the Arsenal head coach said.

"It was reported to the stadium manager and it is for the authorities to deal with. It was a player on the bench, one of them heard the comments."