Clinging on for a draw in opposition to a newly-promoted aspect that has conceded eight targets of their final two video games is much from an era-defining outcome, however given the circumstances in Sunday night’s 0-Zero draw with Leeds United, Mikel Arteta will take it.
The stalemate could have made it only one win in 5 for Arsenal, and the strain on the Spaniard could have intensified in consequence, however in opposition to a vibrant Leeds aspect who charged ahead with growing hazard all through, the Gunners’ resolve got here to the fore – and that is what is going to please Arteta probably the most.
His aspect have been underwhelming at greatest, and but, after Nicolas Pepe’s brainless headbutt on Ezgjan Alioski left them preventing with ten in opposition to 11, Arsenal displayed a formidable resilience to carry out for a draw.
Leeds definitely had their possibilities – Rodrigo cannoning an effort off the crossbar within the second half, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha hitting the put up after that – and have been, by all measures, by far the higher aspect. However to finish a turbulent fortnight with a backs-against-the wall show away from house (not that it issues an excessive amount of as of late) supplies Arteta with a platform for progress.
That is to not say the efficiency provided a lot encouragement – removed from it. The problem for Arsenal in opposition to a Leeds aspect that always leaves itself uncovered defensively was whether or not they may transfer the ball ahead rapidly in transition, one thing they have not been capable of do in current weeks. Too usually Arsenal have been ponderous and passive in possession, failing to assemble the purposeful attacking strikes that might permit them to unleash the standard of their star forwards.
A lot, too, has been manufactured from Arteta’s choice to play captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the left aspect of Arsenal’s entrance three, with the Gabonese worldwide showing more and more marginalised as video games have handed by. And but, restored to the putting berth immediately, it was an analogous story of isolation.
Aubameyang is a participant who thrives on the counter-attack, operating in-behind, but not often did Arsenal have the notice and high quality on the ball to use this route. They appeared clunky and disjointed of their passing going ahead, seldom capable of assemble any significant interaction collectively. The distinction between them and Leeds – who dazzled with their soccer at occasions and amassed 25 photographs on aim – was sharp.
By means of a mixture of luck, Bernd Leno, and the woodwork, Arsenal held out, even when a aim appeared inevitable as Bielsa’s males peppered the guests’ aim late on. The Argentine will rue his aspect’s profligacy, however it’s Arteta with the extra urgent points to deal with.
This was one other dour attacking show, one devoid of any actual enterprise till the vigorous Bukayo Saka was unleashed. Arsenal stay rooted within the backside half, this being the fifth time in six video games that they’ve failed to attain in opposition to English opposition. Arteta must discover a resolution, and if European goals are to be saved alive, he wants to take action quick.
That mentioned, the Pepe pink card didn’t assist. For somebody like Arteta who strives daily to impress values of self-discipline and honesty onto his gamers, it’s moments like this that draw the hairdryer therapy, not poor performances. “It is unacceptable,” he vented in his post-match interview with Sky Sports activities.
He did, nonetheless, recognise the optimistic response from his workforce: “I actually appreciated the persona of the workforce, how we suffered collectively after Pepe let the workforce down and caught to what we do and even believed we may win the sport. It was a matter of defending properly, staying affected person and utilizing the areas they’re leaving.
“We’ve got to take it,” he concluded. After a efficiency like that, they positive do.