Arsenal moved on to the 4th Round of the FA Cup and a home tie with Huddersfield Town after beating Leeds United 3-1 in the 3rd Round replay. Goals from Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead before Bradley Johnson hit a 30 yard screamer to cut the deficit to 3-1. A header from Robin van Persie in the 76th minute sealed the victory, but it was at times a nervy second half.
1-0 Nasri 5'
2-0 Sagna 35'
2-1 Johnson 37'
3-1 van Persie 76'
Arsenal started quicker than Leeds did, and pressed high up the pitch, winning the ball back and not letting Leeds play the ball in midfield. Their long balls were easily cut out by Djourou and Koscielny, who were both excellent, and Arsenal got the lead they deserved, Samir Nasri firing in his 14th goal of the season after nice build up between him, Arshavin and Chamakh, and a dummy by Chamakh. A free header from Chamakh was saved, and Arshavin missed a chance after a fantastic cross from Bendtner.
Arsenal looked more composed in attack than they did in the first leg of the Carling Cup tie with Ipswich and in the home game against Leeds. Nasri and Chamakh were linking up well, and it was interesting to see Chamakh drop deep, at times playing as deep as Song and Denilson, replicating the role of van Persie, and allowing Bendtner to take up central positions.
Bacary Sagna got forward a lot in the first half, as Max Gradel did almost next to nothing defensively, and Sagna took advantage to provide a cross for Bendtner that the Dane couldn't turn in and then thump in Arsenal's second after a Bendtner drive and a deflection. It was a well deserved 2 goal lead, but it came slightly against the run of play, as Leeds were starting to come out and put pressure on Arsenal. Still, they'd created next to nothing when Bradley Johnson outdid Sagna and hit a 30 yard shot into the top right corner. There was little that Szczesny could do about it, but the goal reinvigorated Leeds and Arsenal lost the composure that had seen them sweep into a 2 goal lead, and Leeds upped the tempo. Still, Arsenal could've put the game to bed early in the second half, as Song had his shot saved by Schmeichel after one of his characteristic forward breaks. Leeds continued to press though, and there were same dangerous moments for the Arsenal defence as Snodgrass and Watt put dangerous crosses in. Watt, who had started in the middle switched with Gradel in the second half to prevent Sagna from getting forward, and he did just that, and Arsenal lost some of their earlier fluidity as Bendtner was stuck on the right. Arsene Wenger brought on Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie for Chamakh and Arshavin (who had another poor game, despite his assist and again, poor defensive work) to try and settle the game, but it was Leeds who almost equalised when subsitt
The nerves were settled though when Bendtner put in a brilliant cross for van Persie to head in, and seal the game for Arsenal. It was a really fantastic cross, and maybe, just mayber, Bendtner's transition to right winger could work.
Koscielny and Djoruou were superb at the back, and dealt with long balls over the top comfortably. Denilson was also impressive, but Nasri and Sagna were fantastic, and dictated the game for Arsenal: Nasri with his penetrative passes, and link up play with Chamakh, and Sagna for his marauding runs. A solid performance, and Arsenal go marching on together (to steal a Leeds song) to the 4th round.