ANOTHER one successfully ticked off the list for Mikel Arteta’s young guns.
Now all that’s left to do is win Thursday night’s north London derby and Champions League football will be secured for the first time since 2016-17.
Mikel Arteta celebrates after securing another crucial three pointsCredit: Getty
But the thought of clinching Champions League qualification against the Gunners’ most bitter rivals is all the motivation Arteta and his side need.
And after spending the entire season in a battle for fourth-place, Arsenal could somehow end up miraculously ending the season in third place.
A 2-1 win at home to Jesse Marsch’s Leeds saw the Gunners extend the gap over Tottenham to four points, while cutting the deficit to Chelsea to a single point.
With three games left to play in the season Arteta’s side have already matched their win tally from last season, picking up three points on 18 occasions so far this campaign.
Make it 19 on Thursday down the road in north London and the season will be considered a resounding success.
Today’s 2-1 scoreline flatters Leeds, as the likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard were guilty of wasting good chances to add to Eddie Nketiah’s early double.
Here’s what you may have missed at the Emirates
- Takehiro Tomiyasu was employed at left-back, with Cedric Soares at right-back. Perhaps with the intention of pitting the stronger defender against tricky Leeds right-winger Raphinha.
- The Arsenal fans sat behind Marsch enjoyed mocking the Leeds manager when he unsuccessfully pleaded with the officials for an offside decision.
- Arteta – in his first game since signing a new contract – continuously prowled the touchline barking instructions at his players, despite the Gunners effectively winning the game within the 10 minutes.
- Nketiah’s first goal came courtesy of an Ilan Meslier howler, the Arsenal striker tackling the goalkeeper on the line to open the scoring.
- Luke Ayling was sent off for a horror two-footed tackle on Martinelli – but was somehow only sent off after referee Chris Kavanagh consulted VAR.
- Raphinha almost tried to start a fight with Kavanagh after he sent Ayling off. He was booked for his troubles and had to be restrained by team-mates, before being hooked at half-time.
- There were jubilant chants of “You’re going down” directed towards the away fans as the result leaves Leeds in the drop zone.
- Leeds fans celebrated wildly when they won a corner on 64 minutes, their first real foray into Arsenal territory – from which they ended up scoring from.
- There was a nervous tension in the air for the final 10 minutes of the match due to the slender lead, despite the Gunners dominating throughout.
- The full-time whistle sparked feelings of relief rather than joy, as Arsenal fans know they’re nearly home and hosed in the race for the top four…