Luke Ayling backs Leeds United teammate to shrug off Arsenal disappointment

Leeds United's number one has been backed by his teammate.

By Joe Urquhart
Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 4:30 pm
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier. Pic: Sportimage
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier. Pic: Sportimage

Luke Ayling has backed Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier to brush off a disappointing showing at Arsenal.

Marcelo Bielsa's outfit were well beaten by the Gunners in Premier League action last weekend as they fell to a 4-2 defeat at the Emirates.

The Whites were put on the back foot in the early exchanges of the top flight clash before trailing by three goals at the half-time interval in North London.

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United stopper Meslier - who has started all but one top flight match this season - was criticised for his role in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's opener before he gifted the Gunners a second after giving away a penalty.

Aubameyang cut inside to fire past Ayling and onrushing club captain Liam Cooper to beat Meslier at his near-post with the goalkeeper anticipating a shot into the far corner.

The 20-year-old was then caught on the ball by Bukayo Saka as he conceded a penalty which Aubameyang duly converted from 12 yards.

Mikel Arteta's side again added to the scoreline at the expense of the Whites number one with full-back Hector Bellerin shooting through Meslier from a tight angle on the stroke of half-time.

Arsenal forward Aubameyang completed his hat-trick two minutes after the break with a header from close-range.

Meslier has kept seven clean sheets in the Premier League this season from 22 outings, having been named as Bielsa's first choice in the summer ahead of ex-Real Madrid stopper Kiko Casilla.

The French Under-21s international has been a reliable figure as the last line of defence for Leeds this term throughout his debut campaign as number one.

Vice-captain Ayling is now backing the goalkeeper to shake off a disappointing performance and return to form, starting with the trip to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday night.

"He's still a very young lad," Ayling said of Meslier's shot stopping abilities.

"He's only 20 and he's playing Premier League football - you don't see many goalkeepers at that age playing in this division consistently.

"He'll learn from it (the errors). He has done brilliant for us this season. The gaffer has put a lot of faith in him to play out from the back and days like that might happen every now and then.

"It's about how he bounces back from that - I'm sure he will do that for us."