Leeds 0 Arsenal 0: Ten-man Gunners snatch a point after Nicolas Pepe headbutt as dominant hosts hit woodwork three times
MIKEL ARTETA is rapidly running out of patience with Arsenal’s underachievers after another dismal day’s work.
And no-one is testing his composure more than record signing Nicolas Pepe.
The £72million Ivorian was sent-off for putting the nut in on Leeds midfielder Ezgjan Alioski and will now miss his team’s next three Premier League games.
Arteta couldn’t even bring himself to look at the brainless winger as he trudged off the pitch.
Pepe was dismissed after referee Anthony Taylor had been advised to look at the 51st minute incident on his pitchside monitor by VAR Stuart Attwell.
And he could have absolutely no complaints about the straight red card which followed his off-the-ball shoving match with Alioski.
Pepe has been struggling to convince Arteta ever since the Spaniard took charge and now faces a long spell on the Arsenal naughty step.
Not that his goal-shy team-mates were much better as they were forced to endure a 90-minute Elland Road siege.
Willian was hauled off at half-time following the latest in a series of unconvincing performanmces and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang suffered yet another frustrating afternoon.
The Gunners skipper suffered the first shut-out of his Premier League career when he failed to register a single shot during that recent 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa defeat.
At least he managed to put that right this time, even if it was a tame shot on the turn which was comfortably saved by Leeds keeper Illan Meslier.
But even when he was supposed to be playing through the middle, Aubameyang still seemed to spend most of his time on the left wing.
It meant Arsenal had no-one in the penalty area to apply pressure to one of the leakiest defences in the Premier League.
The only consolation for Arteta was that his team somehow managed to cling on for their first draw of the season in the face of an absolute onslaught from Leeds.
It must have felt like the Alamo for keeper Bernd Leno as Marcelo Bielsa’s team laid siege to his goal from first minute to last.
Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha all struck the woodwork in a frenzied final ten minutes as Leeds piled forward to take advantage of their extra man.
They managed a staggering 25 shots at Leno and should have been way out of sight by the end.
But their wayward finishing allowed Arsenal to escape with an ill-deserved point after barely threatening all afternoon.
And Bielsa will be wondering just what more his team needs to do to get the results their performances this season have deserved.
They could have been ahead after just five minutes when Raphinha was allowed space for an ambitious shot from distance which almost cleared the stand.
Itr was the Brazilian’s first start since his £17million summer move from Rennes and he was clearly eager to make an impression.
Another first-time effort curled narrowly wide but it was Bamford who was causing the visitors most cause for concern.
The former Chelsea striker drew the first save of the game from Leno with a low goalwards prod from Alioski’s early pull-back.
And Leno had to be even sharper to keep out Bamford’s first-time volley following Gabriel’s weak 31st minute clearance.
Stuart Dallas squandered another gilt-edged opportunity when he failed to hit the target with Leno struggling to make his ground.
And with Jack Harrison tearing Arsenal apart down their right flank, Alioski should have provided the 41st minute breakthrough when he controlled the ball in the box before firing over.
Former Arsenal graduate Luke Ayling was next to try his luck but leaned back on Dallas’ cross and cleared the bar with Leeds’ 13th and final shot of the first-half.
Another Dallas thunderbolt was met with a flying save from Leno before sub Rodrigo fired inches wide.
Yet Arsenal almost nicked the win when Bukayo Saka was played in on goal by Hector Bellerin but was forced wide by Meslier, who was able to make a crucial 84th minute save.
It was a year ago tomorrow that Unai Emery took charge of his final Premier League game as Arsenal boss.
A 2-2 draw with Southampton proved to be the final straw before the owners started to sharpen the axe.
Fast forward 12 months and Arteta’s team are now three places worse off than they were when poor old Unai was finally put out of his misery.
And you have to wonder just how much more of this their fuming fans will tolerate before they turn on the man who was supposed to bring the good times back to North London.
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