Gabriel Martinelli struck twice for Arsenal as Mikel Arteta’s side condemned Leeds to more misery at Elland Road.
The Gunners strengthened their top-four credentials with a comfortable 4-1 victory, which saw them go four points ahead of West Ham and five in front of Manchester United. But it was another night to forget for Leeds as their poor defending saw them reach 11 goals conceded in just two outings, following the 7-0 thrashing by Man City in midweek.
Arsenal, unsurprisingly, named an unchanged team from the one which beat West Ham last time out. Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa brought in right-back Cody Drameh for his first Premier League start, with Mateusz Klich and Joe Gelhardt also coming into the injury-hit starting lineup.
The tone for the match seemed to be set inside five minutes. Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard twice found space in good positions. The first time he played in striker Alexandre Lacazette, who was kept out well by the busy Illan Meslier.
Leeds did not learn their lesson and just two minutes later Odegaard gave the ball to Thomas Partey in the box. He tried to catch Meslier out at his near post, but the Frenchman was equal to it.
Gabriel Martinelli then got his second goal in as many games for Arsenal. Leeds gave the ball away in a precarious position, a recurring theme for the game, allowing Bukayo Saka to run at the defence. The home side won the ball back but midfielder Adam Forshaw failed to clear, allowing Martinelli to capitalise. The Brazilian found the net with a confident finish.
Leeds’ only attack of the first half came in the 25th minute. They broke from an Arsenal corner, with Raphinha sent through on the right flank. He cut inside to get away from Kieran Tierney but could only drag his right-footed effort wide.
Xhaka, Martinelli link up for Arsenal
Martinelli’s brace was secured soon afterwards. Stuart Dallas ran forward for Leeds, only to give the ball away to Granit Xhaka. The Switzerland international played Martinelli in with a great pass, but the star seemed to lose control of the ball. He regained his balance to beat Meslier with a lovely chip.
Bielsa’s woes continued as winger Jack Harrison had to be replaced by young talent Crysencio Summerville due to injury.
Saka then joined Martinelli on the scoresheet just before the interval. He picked the ball up and once again ran at his marker and into the penalty area. Leeds won it back but failed to clear, giving Saka the chance to beat Meslier on his left. The shot deflected in off Klich’s boot.
After the break, Xhaka brought Raphinha down with a dangerous tackle on the trickster’s ankle. There was a brief VAR check for a red card but referee Andre Marriner was told not to consult the monitor.
That challenge saw tensions rise and Gelhardt was given a yellow for a late one on the impressive Takehiro Tomiyasu.
The right-back went to ground later in the game and was replaced by Cedric Soares, although it’s unclear if this was due to Gelhardt’s tackle.
Saka continued to be a threat and played a nice one-two with Martinelli before sending his low drive just wide in the 68th minute.
Leeds fans finally had something to shout about 15 minutes from time. Gelhardt won a penalty after being taken out by former Leeds man Ben White. That allowed Raphinha to rifle into the top corner from the resultant spot-kick.
Arsenal eyeing Arthur Melo from Juventus
Arsenal are reportedly keen on a January deal for Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo, with the Brazil international keen on quitting the Serie A giants in the New Year.
Emile Smith Rowe came off the bench to net Arsenal’s fourth goal and put the game to bed with six minutes left. Odegaard sent a delightful chip into his path, and the impressive Englishman smashed home on the half-volley.
The result put Arteta’s men on 32 points from 18 matches. Their next game is against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
Leeds, meanwhile, remain in 16th place with another defeat. They are just four points ahead of the bottom three and travel to Liverpool on Boxing Day.