For Leeds United confusion and frustration reign but they only have themselves to blame for losing 1-0 to the Arsenal

"What the f*** is going on?" Leeds United fans demanded to know after minutes of watching players from both sides gently kicking balls around to keep warm after the game against Arsenal started, then stopped without explanation.

Little did they know it would be a near-constant emotion.

Under Jesse Marsch, the Whites like to make football matches, especially ones at Elland Road, chaotically random but their first home defeat of the season took it to extremes.

They should have seen which way the wind was blowing when it was suspended for 40 minutes because of a power outage at nearby Beeston. Elland Road sorted itself out in no time, quickly getting the scoreboard back on and the tannoy working but the Premier League took an age to reboot and retest their technology.

FALL GUY: Leeds United forward RodrigoFALL GUY: Leeds United forward Rodrigo
FALL GUY: Leeds United forward Rodrigo
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That was bad enough in itself but the delay was just short of ten minutes before anyone saw fit to explain to the paying spectators why the game had stopped. The officials did not want to play without a video assistant referee and it would be decisive, interventions from Paul Tierney causing a penalty to be given and another, plus a red card, to be overturned, but not a disallowed goal.

Most bewildering was the short circuit in Rodrigo's brain which caused him to set up the only goal, and how Leeds managed to be all over Arsenal yet fail to win never mind draw.

Why Marsch waited until the 88th minute to bring Joe Gelhardt on to try and do something about it was pretty low on the list of unexplained mysteries.

By the end of the day Arsenal had put in a performance which cast doubt on their title credentials and achieved one of two results (with Manchester City's defeat) which strengthened them. Work that one out.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Arsenal's situation, though, was of no interest to Leeds. For various reasons, they have not won since beating Chelsea and Barnsley in a few August days. They, and specifically Patrick Bamford, were more to blame for that this time than anyone.

Leeds fans could bemoan Bamford being denied a stoppage-time penalty but having already wasted five chances to score – including a spot kick – would it have made a difference? And the reason the penalty was overturned was his indiscipline.

Not that Rodrigo could escape criticism after the fuse that blew in his brain nine minutes before half-time.

Until it, Leeds had been doing reasonably well. They had made the game frantic and although Arsenal showed occasional glimpses of their class, they had not made it count.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That was until the Spaniard strayed from his centre-forward post onto the right wing inside his own half and inexplicably tried to hoof a pass towards his left-back, Pascal Struijk. It would have been a bad idea at the best of times, as highlighted by the audible "What the...?"s as the ball was in flight, but it was a spectacularly awful one when he instead picked out one of the Premier League's form players, Bukayo Saka.

The England winger exchanged passes with Martin Odegaard before beating Illan Meslier from an angle tight enough to ask serious questions of the goalkeeper.

Minutes later Rodrigo nearly controlled a ball out of play. He really needed half-time but if he was hoping to regroup, all that happened was he was put out of his misery.

His replacement Bamford made an instant difference, although swapping Brenden Aaronson and Jack Harrison around – at their suggestion – after the latter played the first 45 minutes as an ill-fitting No 10 was significant too.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bamford found the net within 35 seconds but the goal was disallowed, either for the nudge in Gabriel's back or the touch onto his bicep before he swivelled and shot.

When he pounced on William Saliba's control, former Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale saved. Minutes later Bamford was beating the ground, his own elephant-like touch having denied him another chance from Aaronson's pass.

But his best chance came when Saliba handled in the area. Play went all the way from one end to the other before referee Chris Kavanagh felt able to consult his now-working VAR monitor. Four minutes after the offence, Bamford hit his penalty wide.

It summed up where he is in his slow crawl to full fitness and confidence, and explains why Leeds are where they are in the table when they can hammer Chelsea and outgun the Gunners as comprehensively as they did in the second half.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At least Bamford had an excuse for coming out second-best in a 70th-minute one-on-one, his shirt tugged before he shot at Ramsdale.

All the play was at that end, though, Luis Sinisterra twice having shots blocked to add to a couple narrowly wide in the first half, then blazing over after a cute Bamford flick, the winger's last touch before making way for Gelhardt.

It would not have been right for the game to end without utter confusion and so it proved, Leeds fans celebrating a penalty, then cursing the fact the game had gone ahead with VAR.

With the match deep into stoppage time, it was obvious from the stands Bamford had unnecessarily pushed Gabriel as they chased a ball and that as the defender fell he accidentally-on-purpose kicked the striker.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Kavanagh consulted with his linesman who must have told him half the story and awarded a penalty and a red card. So Tierney piped up.

The delirium was instantly burst as Kavanagh marched to his monitor. We know how that normally ends.

To add to the drama he plodded slower and further than after his last trip before the decision the home fans dreaded.

A yellow card was wafted Bamford's way, and the spot kick cancelled. Infuriating for Leeds fans, but correct. But... wait? Gabriel's red card was rescinded because kicking an opponent after they have pushed you is now okay, apparently.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It added to the anger, frustration and bewilderment at Elland Road but when the emotions calmed down one thing was clear: too many of their wounds were self-inflicted.

Leeds United: Meslier: Kristensen, Koch, Cooper, Struijk; Adams, Roca (Summerville 84); Aaronson, Harrison (Klich 76), Sinisterra (Gelhardt 89); Rodrigo (Bamford 46). Unused substitutes: Ayling, Firpo, Klaesson, Llorente, Greenwood.

Arsenal: Ramsdale; White (Tierney 76), Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Partey, Xhaka; Saka (Holding 81), Odegaard (Vieira 76), Martinelli; Jesus (Nketiah 81). Unused substitutes: Soares, Sambi Lokonga, Nelson, Maquinhos, Turner.

Referee: C Kavanagh (Manchester).