Arsenal smash injury hit Leeds side

Gabriel Martinelli scored twice as Arsenal beat Leeds 4-1Credit: Getty
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LONDON – Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe were all on target as Arsenal consolidated their place in the Premier League top four with a 4-1 victory over injury-ravaged Leeds.

Coronavirus outbreaks had seen all five of Saturday’s other top-flight fixtures postponed and ensured the Gunners were already certain of spending Christmas in a Champions League position even prior to kick-off.

However, Martinelli’s double and and efforts from Saka and substitute Smith Rowe saw them move four points clear of West Ham in fifth, with Raphinha’s second-half penalty proving only a consolation for the struggling hosts.

Mikel Arteta’s side were also hit by Covid ahead of kick-off, with midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga testing positive, but the Spaniard was still able to name an unchanged lineup to the one that started the midweek win over the Hammers, with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang still not being considered for selection after being stripped of the captaincy.

Smith Rowe's 85th minute strike sealed a 4-1 win for the Gunners
Smith Rowe’s 85th minute strike sealed a 4-1 win for the GunnersCredit: Getty

In Aubameyang’s absense, Martinelli has thrived and the Brazilian opened the scoring here, just as he had against West Ham, with a superb first-time finish after good pressing from Alexandre Lacazette had stolen the ball from Adam Foreshaw on the edge of the home box.

Leeds were masters of their own downfall for the second goal, too, Stuart Dallas conceding possession and allowing Granit Xhaka to thread a superb pass through for Martinelli to run clear and lift coolly over Ilan Meslier.

Saka added a third before the interval as his strike took a nick and flew past Meslier at the near-post, and at that point you feared for a Leeds side who looked all at sea and had been pumped 7-0 by Manchester City in midweek.

To their credit, however, they rallied after the break and pulled one back 15 minutes from time when Ben White’s rash challenge on Joe Gelhardt allowed Raphinha the chance to hammer a superb penalty past Aaron Ramsdale.

Any hope of a late fightback was quashed, however, when Smith Rowe came off the bench to latch onto Martin Odegaard’s lifted through-ball and make the points safe.

Source: The Evening Standard