Leeds United fans on Arsenal positives, 'midfield wrecker' and emotional response call
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Here is what our YEP Jury had to say on some Whites positives at the Emirates, a ‘midfield wrecker’ and a call for a fitting response in a huge and emotional week for the Whites – starting with Tuesday night’s hosting of relegation rivals Nottingham Forest.
Expectations were low for this one on the back of injuries to three of the most influential players in Adams, Gnonto and Wober combined with Arsenal’s knack of grinding out results. And expectations became reality once a soft penalty was awarded against Luke Ayling after 35 minutes giving Arsenal the advantage.
Prior to that, Leeds had chances through Harrison and Summerville, but even being level at half-time it would have been challenging to come away from the Emirates with anything. On the positive side, Leeds did have a game plan – but against a better team it was to prove difficult to execute.
Javi Gracia’s match plan also involved protecting assets likely to be beneficial in the coming days. The next two games are opportunities to massively improve survival chances and that is where the focus lies. Four/six points from these two games and Arsenal is forgotten – if it isn’t already.
Man of the match: Crysencio Summerville.
If you had been told in advance that Leeds would lose at Arsenal, you wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Of course, United have much more important games to come this week but, after other results didn’t go their way at the weekend, the pressure has only increased.
The Whites did start off fairly well at the Emirates. There was a clear plan, a strong defensive shape and the hosts were limited to half chances only. However, it only takes one mistake, combined with some questionable refereeing, to make the difference.
From the moment Gabriel Jesus scored his penalty it was always going to be difficult for Leeds to come back. They did have their chances but, with Forest and Palace to come, they have bigger challenges ahead. After this week, the Premier League table could look much different. Whether that’s in a positive or negative way remains to be seen.
Man of the match: Jack Harrison.
Another trip to Arsenal ended in a 4-1 defeat, not many would be surprised that the team at the top of the league beat one that is among the teams fighting to stay in the Premier League.
Leeds held their own for the first half hour and had chances before Luke Ayling caught Jesus in the area - it looked a very soft penalty. Jesus made it 1-0 from the spot. Ben White doubled the lead just after the break and Jesus made it 3-0 just before the hour. Kristensen scored his second goal in successive games to reduce the arrears before Xhaka finished Leeds off four minutes from time.
The next week is an emotional one. It’s 23 years since Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight were murdered in Istanbul. It is hoped the players can lift the friends and families of Chris and Kevin with a couple of much-needed wins against Forest and Palace. It would be a fitting tribute and bring a smile to the faces of their loved ones and to a couple of lads looking down from above. Dedicated to the memory of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight.
Man of the match: No-one selected.
It wasn’t to be a repeat of that fabulous day in 2003 when we ended the Gunners’ title hopes while securing our place in the Prem. Instead, it was another routine London visit; arriving with hope but having zero luck and surrendering weak goals.
It wasn’t a game that would define our season either; the next two might fit that bill. Leeds were strong for 35 minutes in a tight new 4-3-3 formation with Rasmus Kristensen the midfield wrecker! The idea was to remain tight and play on the break. It almost worked; Kristensen stinging the hands of Ramsdale and Summerville and Harrison also denied.
To then concede a needless penalty was a disaster. After the break, Ben White escaped from Jack Harrison after Martinelli was too clever for Luke Ayling; Trossard got past Robin Koch to set up Jesus; and Xhaka leapt unchallenged to head a fourth. In between, Kristensen fired a deflected effort past Ramsdale but, by the end, Leeds were well beaten.
Man of the match: Rasmus Kristensen.
As expected, United crashed to a heavy defeat but there was much more to it than that. The cynics decried Javi Gracia's attacking selections and took the benching of Bamford, Rodrigo and Rutter to signify that the Whites were happy to take a hit in this game and were saving themselves for the week ahead.
The reality of the first half proved to be very different as United took the game to the Gunners and both Summerville and Kristensen were thwarted by the heroics of goalkeeper Ramsdale. Only the softest of penalty awards gave the lead to the Gunners as the teams approached the interval.
Reality struck in the second half as United old boy Ben White slid the ball home at the far post. Jesus made it three before Kristensen gave United a faint chance of survival with 15 minutes left. Then Xhaka put the result beyond doubt and all United had to console themselves was that their defeat was by the same margin as Liverpool's earlier on.
Man of the match: Crysencio Summerville.