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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Emirates Stadium

Jesus back in time for Easter as Arsenal overpower Leeds

Arsenal (1) 4 Jesus pen 35, 55, White 47, Xhaka 84

Leeds United (0) 1 Kristensen 76

It has been a long time coming.

Not since the October 1 home win against Spurs had Gaby Jesus found the net for Arsenal. Six months to the day, he ended the drought by earning and converting a penalty before adding a second after the break.

Ben White and Granit Xhaka muscled in on the act with goals number two and four on an afternoon when the Gunners made no mistake, ensuring they maintain that eight-point lead over Man City in the title race.

They mostly did it without Bukayo Saka too, as he was kept on the bench for an hour following his England exertions.

It was all very routine ahead of the big battles to come at Liverpool, City and Newcastle but it is one less game to negotiate.

Jesus has scored a modest seven goals this season now, but his contribution has been more than just about goals. He occupies defenders with his skills inside the box and creates space with the chaos he brings.

With the game half an hour old, the Brazilian finally opened up a disciplined visitors’ defence with a twist and turn inside the box which proved too much for Leeds skipper Luke Ayling, who had gone down to block an anticipated shot, only to raise a boot into the striker as he darted past.

The subsequent spot kick was drilled down the centre, with Illan Meslier diving in vain to his right.

Cheap goal it may have been, but it was much needed after a drab opening which threatened to exacerbate the feelings of anxiety built up by the lunchtime thrashing of Liverpool by Man City.

It was also much needed by Jesus himself – who earlier headed over from six yards when picked out free in the box by the busy Xhaka, from the left.

Arsenal’s only other big moment of opportunity in a low key first-half came when Gabriel Martinelli tried his luck from distance after Meslier came out of his box to clear – but Ayling got back to scramble the lobbed shot off the line.

The handbrake could come off after the breakthrough and right at the start of the second half, White doubled the lead from close in, via the underside of the crossbar, after Martinelli had got the better of Ayling to fire a low cross to the far post.

Soon after, Leandro Trossard darted into the box from Jesus’ pass, getting around a defender, and there was Jesus to stab in the return ball at the near post.

Arsenal invited some late fretting when Rasmus Kristensen’s shot from the edge of the area beat Aaron Ramsdale with the aid of a deflection off Oleksandr Zinchenko.

But any Leeds hopes were snuffed out when Xhaka ghosted onto a lovely, flighted ball from Martin Odegaard to nod in number four.

It was his sixth of the campaign and his third in a row on home soil. Those dark days when he became a reviled figure do seem a long time ago now.

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale – White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierny 86) – Odegaard (Smith Rowe 86), Partey (Jorginho 59), Xhaka (Vieira 86) – Trossard, Jesus (Saka 59), Martinelli. Subs not used: Turner, Kiwior, Nelson, Walters

Leeds: (4-3-3) Meslier – Ayling, Struijk, Koch (Cooper 74), Firpo – Harrison (Bamford 85), Kristensen, Roca – Sinisterra (Rodrigo 66), Aaronson (McKennie 66), Summerville (Rutter 74). Subs not used: Robles, Gyabi, Greenwood, Gray


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