Leeds United's Carabao Cup run ends tamely at Arsenal
Leeds United's run in the Carabao Cup came to an end at the Emirates Stadium as a promising first half turned into a dreadful second and brought about a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in their fourth round tie.
The Whites could count themselves unlucky not to be in front in the first half, but they failed to test home goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the whole of the second half and went out of the competition meekly.
Predictably they let a goal in from a corner with Calum Chambers scoring less than 30 seconds after coming on as a second half substitute and probably just as predictably it was former Leeds fan favourite Eddie Nketiah who sealed United's fate with the second goal
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa believed the opening goal was the key moment in the game.
He said: “Clearly the differences between what happened in the first half and the second half were produced after the goal.
“The goal we conceded was at the start of the second half. After that, the game wasn’t the same.
“When they scored they feel they can attack less and that allows them to defend better.
"In the first half, they were forced to attack but we defended well and when we recovered it we played forward well.
“After a disadvantage that happened really quickly we had to defend less and attack more.
“When they stopped attacking and they decided to defend more it was difficult for us to take the ball into the opponents half."
Bielsa added: “For me, it was a big hope to evolve in this competition. Within that, competing in this is attractive.
“To be eliminated of course, it is a big disappointment.”
Arsenal looked there for the taking in the first half with their much changed side full of reserves and not really gelling.
Bielsa resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his team and despite his lively appearance off the bench at the weekend Joe Gelhardt stayed on the bench, but 19-year-old right-back Cody Drameh was handed his debut.
He looked assured in the role and United settled into the game to be the better side in the first 45 minutes.
They did not always produce the right final ball to capitalise on their decent football and their first real chance highlighted the night when Diego Llorente's superb long pass over the top of the home defence was taken down by Dan James, but his touch was just too heavy and Leno was able to come out to save.
Leno had to make a much more difficult save soon after when Jack Harrison's powerful strike through a crowd of bodies was palmed clear by the keeper.
James and Harrison both had efforts saved by Leno while a threatening break ended with James taking the wrong option of passing instead of running through a gap between the Arsenal central defenders with the move then ending tamely.
Emile Smith-Rowe had Arsenal's best chance when a set piece was not cleared and he fired wide while early on Gabriel Martinelli went on a run into the box only to see his effort saved by Illan Meslier. But they did not produce much in the way of good football.
The Gunners stepped up their intensity after the break, however, and Leeds' passing game disappeared for a spell. Set pieces looked the most likely method of Arsenal breaking the deadlock and from their ninth corner they struck.
Just 23 seconds after coming on for the injured Ben White, one-time England defender Chambers nodded the hosts ahead after Arsenal were allowed three headers in the box. Meslier looked to have made a last ditch save, but the ball was just over the line and the goal was rightly given.
There was little response from United and with 21 minutes left Liam Cooper's poor back header was pounced upon by Nketiah. who flicked the ball over Meslier, then managed to put the ball into the net despite miskicking.
Arsenal backed off in the closing stages, but despite having plenty of the ball Leeds did little with it. By this stage they had more youngsters on the pitch and none were able to make any impact this time.
Gelhardt did have one run into the box late on only to then slice his shot wide and it was all too easy for the home team to see the game out.
Now it is back to the Premier League for Leeds and a six-pointer against Norwich on Sunday when another defeat would likely set some alarm bells ringing at how this season is turning out.
(Chambers 55, Nketiah 69)
Leeds United 0
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Carabao Cup, round four
Arsenal: Leno; Soares, White (Chambers 55), Holding (Tavares 77), Kolasinac; Maitland-Niles, Elneny (Lokonga 72); Pepe, Smith-Rowe (Lacazette 72), Martinelli; Nketiah.
Leeds: Meslier; Drameh, Llorente (Cooper 58), Struijk, Dallas; Phillips, Harrison, Forshaw (Klich 45), Roberts (Gelhardt 53), James (Summerville 69); Rodrigo (Greenwood 69).
Referee: Andre Marriner