Emiliano Martinez was on song at the back while Reiss Nelson made the telling difference as Arsenal beat Leeds United 1-0 to progress to the FA Cup 4th Round.
Hosts Arsenal were thoroughly outplayed by Leeds United in the first half, but the game remained goalless thanks to some solid work by Emiliano Martinez, coupled with the profligacy of Leeds’s attack. The Gunners were much improved post the interval, as Reiss Nelson scored following some fine work by Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette.
Nelson’s strike would prove to be the only goal in the game, as the north Londoners saw out a tricky fixture to seal their safe passage through to the FA Cup 4th Round. Arsenal will face Bournemouth up next in the competition. As for Monday’s game, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Emiliano Martinez: 8/10
Reiss Nelson might have netted the winner, but there is hardly any doubt as to who the deserved man of the match really was. The fact that Arsenal were even in the game by the time Nelson scored is largely down to Martinez.
Arsenal’s backup goalkeeper made quite a telling impact, showing great reflexes to make 6 saves in the game. Martinez’s distribution often left a lot to be desired, but that was only a minor blip in an otherwise fantastic showing. Absolutely superb.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 6/10
With Ainsley Maitland-Niles playing week in week out lately, Sokratis was named as Arsenal’s right-back in a move that allowed the former a rest. Struggled to get to grips with the demands of the role in the early exchanges, but grew into the game as the minutes ticked by. Moved the ball along well, though.
Rob Holding: 6/10
Back into the side for the first time in weeks, Holding looked quite rusty and was given a tough time by Patrick Bamford. The first half was a horror show of sorts for the Englishman, who lacked the composure to pass with precision as well. Much improved in the second half and shut down the threat of the Leeds attack well as the game wore on.
David Luiz: 7/10
Quite easily, Arsenal’s best defender in the game and one does not really say that much. This time around, though, Luiz looked much better than he has all season, keeping the Arsenal high line organised and disciplined. Helped initiate plenty of counter-attacks as well. Perhaps, his best showing as an Arsenal player.
Sead Kolasinac: 5/10
After a stunning display against Manchester United, this was Kolasinac back to being a nervy defender. His forays down the left flank saw him leaving a bit too much space in behind him, which Leeds duly pounced on. Ought to be thankful that Luiz covered up for him well. Not the most assured with the ball at his feet either. A game to forget.
Matteo Guendouzi: 6/10
Back into the starting lineup, Guendouzi was not quite up to the pace of the game to begin with. In fact, as was the case for the team as a whole, it was a game of two halves for the Frenchman, who was quite easily overrun in midfield in the first half before he helped his side take charge of the proceedings. Looks much better higher up the pitch.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
Much like his partner in the middle of the park, Xhaka was well off his best in the opening 45 minutes of the game and scrambled around. When he did get on the ball in the first half, he was rather wasteful. However, as the game progressed, he found his feet and made more positive moves. Needs to become more consistent.
Nicolas Pepe: 7/10
Coming off the back of one of his best performances in Arsenal colours, Pepe was the hosts’ most energetic player. However, the first half was a frustrating period for the Ivorian, who was deprived of quality service.
As soon as Arsenal started dominating the proceedings, though, Pepe came into his own, and it was his endeavour that earned the Gunners the winner. Pepe showed tremendous strength to retain the ball; he then charged forward with pace and linked up with Lacazette before Nelson eventually scored.
Mesut Ozil: 6/10
Ozil has been one of the better players for Arsenal in the short time that Arteta has been the manager. Against Leeds, however, the German playmaker had an off game and was a peripheral figure for large parts of the proceedings. A rare blip, perhaps. Arteta and Arsenal fans would certainly hope so.
Reiss Nelson: 7/10
Like Pepe on the opposite flank, Nelson was starved of service in the first half and did more work off the ball, helping Kolasinac, than he did in the final third. A bright spark right from the get-go after the break, he was also in the right place at the right time for his goal. A big confidence booster for Nelson.
Alexandre Lacazette: 7/10
Lacazette cut a frustrated figure in the first half, having fed off scraps. When he saw more of the ball, the Frenchman was absolutely superb, holding the ball well to bring his teammates into the game. Showed good awareness in the build-up to Nelson’s goal. But, in all this, it’s quite perplexing that he wasn’t shown a red card for violent conduct.
Gabriel Martinelli: 7/10
Given the last quarter of the game, Martinelli was a lively figure and drove Arsenal forward quite effectively. A strong cameo and he should get more minutes in the coming weeks.
Joe Willock: 6/10
A pair of fresh legs in the dying embers of the game, Willock helped see the game out.
Bukayo Saka: N/A
A late introduction, Saka barely had any time to make an impact.