Pepe sees red as Arsenal grind out lucky draw at Leeds
Gunners escape Elland Road with a point after being reduced to 10-men following £72m winger's 'unacceptable' dismissal
22 November, 2020 — By Steve Barnett
Nicolas Pepe ‘let Arsenal down’ after being sent off against Leeds
LEEDS UNITED 0
ARSENAL 0 (Pepe sent off 51)
MIKEL Arteta snapped that Nicolas Pepe “let the team down” after the Arsenal winger was sent off for a headbutt in a goalless draw away at Leeds this evening.
Pepe marked only his second start in the Premier League this season by shoving his head into Ezgjan Alioski’s face just minutes into the second-half.
Referee Anthony Taylor missed Pepe’s moment of madness, but a quick VAR review rightfully resulted in the Gunners’ £72m signing being given his marching orders.
“It is unacceptable. Unacceptable,” growled Arsenal boss Arteta. “At this level you cannot do it.”
In truth, however, Arsenal’s entire performance at Elland Road, even before Pepe’s dismissal, was unacceptable.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 60th-minute effort, comfortably saved by Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, was their first of two shots on target.
The other, arguably the chance of the game, saw Bukayo Saka tamely shoot at Meslier late on after being played clean through on goal by Hector Bellerin.
Leeds were by far the better team, squandering a host of good chances and hitting the woodwork on no fewer than three occasions.
After the final whistle the stats showed Marcelo Bielsa’s team had created 25 shots – and while only four were on target, Rodrigo, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha all left the pitch knowing they should have earned Leeds all three points.
Arteta added: “It is a point. Considering how early we got Pepe sent off we have to take it. I am never happy with a draw but considering the circumstance it is one we take and move on.
“There were two parts [to the game] in the first-half, one where we were superior and dominant and created opportunities.
“In the last 15-20 minutes [of the first-half] we gave balls away in different positions and gave them space to attack. We were lucky not to go 1-0 down.
“In the second-half playing this side with 10-men is complicated. It was a matter of defending well and staying patient, and using the pace of our players in the space they were leaving.”
Arsenal have now failed to score from open play in their last 476 minutes of Premier League football – their only goal in the last five league games coming courtesy of Aubameyang’s penalty in the 1-0 win over Manchester United.
“It is a concern,” admitted Arteta. “You need goals to win matches. We need to create more opportunities.”
LEEDS UNITED: Meslier, Ayling (Rodrigo, 70), Koch, Cooper, Alioski, Dallas, Phillips, Raphinha, Klich, Harrison (Poveda, 80), Bamford
Substitutes not used: Casilla, Roberts, Costa, Struijk, Davis
ARSENAL: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Willock (Saka, 57), Saka (Maitland-Niles 90+3), Ceballos, Willian (Nelson 45), Pepe sent off, 51), Aubameyang
Substitutes not used: Runarsson, Lacazette, Mustafi, Nketiah