Arsenal 1 Leeds United 0
Nelson 55

Reiss Nelson's second half strike against Leeds United ensured Arsenal safely progressed to the FA Cup fourth round. The Gunners were made to fight to see off Leeds in their FA cup third round clash at the Emirates on Monday night. Nelson’s goal proved to be enough for the Gunners to claim the win which earns a trip to Bournemouth in the fourth round. Mikel Arteta had spoken of wanting to see his team suffer collectively and then find solutions. However, having dominated respective first halves at home Chelsea and Manchester United, the Arsenal head coach would not have been pleased to see Leeds dominate a first half in which they could have been at least two goals to the good going into the break.

Arteta has spoken to his players about the dangers Leeds possessed, but that seemed to have gone out of the window as he watched the visitors take control. Only a half time “angry,” dressing down lead to a Gunners revival.

“Yes, thank God. I wasn’t happy at all. The first 30 to 35 minutes, how we started the game, how we approached the game… I tried to convince them before the game of what to expect of that team. They battered every team in the Championship, every three days. The way they play makes it really difficult and uncomfortable. Everything is man-to-man around the pitch, so it becomes a transition game where everything is duels, everything is 50:50. If you’re not ready for that game you get exposed and you get done. Obviously, the second half was a different story,” said Arteta.

Patrick Bamford hit the bar, in a first half which saw the visitors have fifteen efforts on Emi Martinez’s goal. The Argentine keeper had to claw out Jack Harrison’s dipping effort and roared on by a lively 8,000 travelling supporters, Marcelo Bielsa’s Championship side were taking the game to their Premier League opponents.

Nelson and Alexandre Lacazette were being nullified as was Mesut Ozil who couldn’t get any semblance of service to his front line. Ezgjan Alioski saw a shot fizz just wide and Arteta looked a concerned man on the sidelines. Would Leeds rue not capitalising on their opportunities? Well, whatever Arteta said at half time ensured that the Gunners began the second half firing and in complete contrast to the half before.

Nicolas Pepe saw his shot sail over Ilan Meslier’s goal, and Lacazette struck wide of Meslier’s upright. When Matteo Guendouzi won a foul on the edge of the Leeds area, Lacazatte’s free kick clipped the woodwork. Leeds seemed to have dropped their energy levels and Arsenal sensed it.

When Pepe stayed on his feet having being impeded by his marker, he fed Lacazette wide on the left. The France striker crossed to see the ball come off Gaetano Berardi and into the path of Nelson to nudge his effort past Meslier for the game’s opener.

With 67 minutes gone, Arteta replaced Nelson and brought on teenager Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazil midfielder began to torment the tiring Leeds back line. His 20 yard effort was kept out well by Meslier as the visitors began to sit back. Lacazette and Sokratis were in the wars with both involved in VAR checks as the game took on a feisty edge.

Five minutes of time added on saw clever possession ball from the hosts who held on for their eighth FA Cup win over Leeds, as Arteta oversaw back to back wins and clean sheets for the first time since last October.

Captain for the night, Lacazette pinpointed the main reason behind the Gunners’ change in fortunes after the break, explaining that “the manager shouted a lot. He was not happy because we knew they’d play like this and we didn’t respect what he had said.”

Arteta concurred. Having done his homework on opponent who currently sits nine points clear of third placed Brentford at the Championship summit, he knew his side would be tested. The way they recovered will hearten the Arsenal head coach.

“When I see what I don’t want to see – and I’m not talking about technically and tactically – what I expect from them and the standards that we wanted to set in certain areas, I cannot be happy and I have to let them know. I am learning every day about them. How they react when they lose, what they need when they lose, what they need when they win as well. And as well, how can they react when they want to.

“Because before that, obviously everybody said it was a physical issue that we could not sustain a certain rhythm or intensity throughout the game. Look how they finished tonight. After 94 minutes they kept going and this is here and this is there. This is what they have to understand as a team,” continued Arteta.

With Leeds game plan to press Arsenal which saw the visitors dominate the first half, Arteta accepted that work must be done to manage the game at every situation and not be put under pressure and especially not at home. How would the be achieved?

“How? It’s a good question. And every three days it’s an even better question. That’s the job, that’s what I have to find out with these players. But I have to recognise, I played those type of games and in recent months we played against teams that go man-to-man and it’s very uncomfortable. For the players, they’re not used to it and it becomes a battle, it becomes a transition game. When you win the ball, you attack. When you lose the ball, it’s a counter-attack. I think they had to experience that as well.

Arsenal next travel to Crystal Palace for Saturday’s lunchtime Premier League kick off where another tough test awaits in this London derby.