Leeds United 1 v Arsenal 3

It was a game that ” we could do without,” was Arsene Wenger’s assertion, but after seeing Arsenal brush aside a spirited Leeds 3-1 in their FA Cup 3rd round replay at Elland Road on Wednesday, the Gunners manager will possibly have changed his mind. Arsenal were by far the superior side at a very hostile stadium whose 38,000 plus crowd had come baying for blood. So had much of Britain actually, but Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and substitute Robin Van Persie scored for Arsenal to progress into the next round with a home tie against Huddersfiled Town. Bradley Johnson briefly hauled the scores back to 2-1, but on this performance, Arsenal were not going to be denied.


The Gunners were ahead within five minutes and it was all down to a cool head on Nasri. Kieran Gibbs was more of a left winger than a left back at times, but he fed Andrey Arshavin and the ball – via a flick from Marouane Chamakh – fell into the path of Nasri who coolly slotted beyond the exposed Kasper Schmeichel . Arshavin again had one of those games where he threatened to do so much, but ended up with more frustration for both himself and the huge travelling contingent from north London. The Russian had three gilt edged chances to confirm the Gunners superiority, but squandered the lot albeit with on effort producing a fine save from Schmeichel.The Dane had earlier denied Chamakh’s powerful header from Nasri’s free-kick, but you sensed another Arsenal goal was imminent.


It duly arrived seven minutes before the break. Laurent Koscielny was enjoying a combative evening alongside the willing Johan Djourou with Sagna advancing forward at will. The right back started the move with the ball allowing Nicklas Bendtner to surge forward. The attack seemed to have broken down, but Sagna collected to ball, raced to just inside the 18 yard line and let fly with a screamer that although Schmeichel got fingers to, but the ball still ended up in the back of the Leeds net for Sagna’s third ever Arsenal goal.


Two minutes later and the home side had reduced the arrears. Arshavin was easily out muscled by Robert Snodgrass as he looked for a free-kick, but Bradley Johnson’s 20 yard effort flew in past Wojciech Szczesny . Alex Song had another dominant game and was at the heart of everything that the Gunners did. He had an excellent chance to grab Arsenal a third a minute after the re-start, but Schmeichel palmed away his shot from Nasri’s pass.


Wenger brought on Cesc Fabregas and Van Persie and the two had instant impact. Fabregas immediately began to dictate from midfield and was unlucky to see a free-kick go just wide of the Leeds upright. The Arsenal pressure was mounting despite some resilient stuff from the home side, but it was no surprise when the Gunners grabbed a third. Fabregas fed Bendtner, who was the epitome of discipline and willingness and in an unfamiliar position on the right. The Dane’s cross took out the Leeds defence for Van Persie to climb high and head past Schmeichel to send Arsenal through, and very convincingly too.