Leeds v Arsenal Gallery: Gunners' firepower proves just too much for Leeds

THE two clubs famously led to the League title by Herbert Chapman will be reunited in the FA Cup fourth round after Leeds United were last night unable to claim another major scalp.

Goals from Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie were enough to ensure hugely impressive Arsenal successfully negotiated a potentially tricky midweek replay in West Yorkshire.

After coming so close to knocking out the Premier League high-fliers at the Emirates Stadium 11 days earlier, United had been hoping to repeat last season's heroics when Manchester United were dumped out in the third round.

Unfortunately for the sell-out Elland Road crowd, Simon Grayson's men came up against a visiting side in quite imperious form.

It is debatable, in fact, whether even the Gunners' top-flight peers could have lived with the Londoners, such was the quality of their play against a Leeds outfit who, to their credit, kept going until the end.

The upshot of Arsene Wenger extending his run of never having lost an FA Cup third round tie is that Huddersfield Town will now travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday week for a meeting between the two clubs once managed by Chapman, who also had a stint in charge of Leeds City.

It will be the Terriers' first competitive meeting with Arsenal in 18 years – when the Londoners won a League Cup second round tie 6-1 on aggregate – and Lee Clark's men must be hoping their hosts fail to replicate the high standards set at Elland Road.

Central to the Gunners' dominance for long periods last night was Nasri, who not only took his season's goal tally to 14 but also pulled the attacking strings in midfield.

As in the first game in north London, Wenger had opted to rest many of his big names by naming a starting XI that nevertheless contained nine full internationals.

Tellingly, however, the Gunners chief made sure he had the insurance of having Cesc Fabregas, van Persie, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere on the bench should things go awry.

Wenger also chose to hand a starting role to top scorer Nasri and the French midfielder showed during a one-sided opening 45 minutes just why he has become one of the Premier League's outstanding performers this season.

Fittingly, it was Nasri who opened the scoring inside five minutes. Collecting possession from the equally impressive

Andrey Arshavin, the Gunners midfielder showed tremendous poise to dart between Andy O'Brien and Alex Bruce before finishing past Kasper Schmeichel from 10 yards.

Going ahead clearly settled any nerves Arsenal may have felt ahead of the trip to the frozen north as they laid siege to the home goal.

First, Marouame Chamakh brought a flying save from

Schmeichel after the Moroccan striker had been picked out by Nasri's floated free-kick.

Then, as the home defence creaked under incessant pressure, Arshavin went within a whisker of adding a second with a 20-yard drive that was turned round a post.

The Russian was also just a fraction of a second too late in trying to reach Chamakh's cross, as was Nicklas Bendtner from a similarly driven low pass from Sagna.

Both were huge let-offs for United but the respite proved to be only a temporary one with Arsenal doubling their

advantage 10 minutes before the break.

A tackle by Andy O'Brien on Bendtner initially looked to have averted the danger only for Sagna to arrive and thump an unstoppable shot beyond Schmeichel and into the roof of the net.

At that stage, it seemed merely a question of how many goals

Arsenal would score but, credit to Leeds, who responded within two minutes courtesy of an even more ferocious drive from Bradley Johnson that flew past Wojciech Szczesny.

The goal did serve to stem the tidal wave of Arsenal attacks that had threatened to submerge the United defence, though once the second half got underway it was still the visitors posing most of the threat.

Just 21 seconds had elapsed when neat interplay saw Alex Song race clear only to be denied when Schmeichel defiantly raced from his line.

Robert Snodgrass then came to the home side's rescue with a timely interception to prevent Arshavin latching on to Nasri's pass.

Leeds also threatened during an entertaining second half with Sanchez Watt denied a clear run on goal by Sagna and Max Gradel curling over an inviting cross that Billy Paynter just failed to convert from close range.

Davide Somma then wasted perhaps the best chance when stabbing wide after a neat one-two between Paul Connolly and Snodgrass had opened up the visitors' defence.

Moments later, Wenger responded by sending on Fabregas and van Persie and it was the Dutchman who put the tie beyond doubt by nodding past Schmeichel 13 minutes from time.

Leeds United: Schmiechel; Connolly, Bruce, O'Brien (Bromby 66), Parker; Howson, Johnson; Snodgrass, Watt (Sam 79), Gradel; Paynter (Somma 68). Unused substitutes: Higgs, Collins, Hughes, McCormack.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs; Nasri (Clichy 84), Song, Denilson, Arshavin (van Persie 71); Chamakh (Fabregas 71), Bendtner.Unused substitutes: Walcott, Wilshere, Eboue, Shea.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).