Arsenal 1 - 1 Leeds: match report

0 - 1 Robert Snodgrass 54' PK
1 - 1 Cesc Fabregas 90' PK

Leeds earned an FA Cup 3rd round replay at Elland Road by holding Arsenal to a draw at the Emirates today, an 90th minute Fabregas penalty canceling out an early 2nd half spot kick from Snodgrass in a tie in which Arsenal had the bulk of the shots and play.

The game started off a bit scrappy, Aresnal's usual passing disrupted by Leeds' industrious pressing.  The Gunners' best early chance came after Andrei Arshavin ran onto a Tomas Rosicky pass over the top.  Kasper Schmeichel was equal to the task, though, coming out of his goal quickly to block the Russian's effort.  Leeds came down to the other end three minutes later, Luciano Becchio beating Wojciech Szczesny to a through ball, but his touch only managed to curl into the keeper's torso.  Sanchez Watt, on loan from Arsenal, blazed over the bar a minute later.

Those were to be Leeds' only two efforts for the entire first half.  Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner chased passes with vigor, but could not get on the end of any good shooting opportunities.  Arhsavin had a long-range shot saved low by Schmeichel shortly before Arsenal won a corner kick.  Arshavin curled it in, and it was cleared off the line twice by Becchio at the post, reminiscent of the City match four days ago, when Aresnal did everything but get the ball across the line.

Alex Bruce prevented Bendtner from getting a shot away on fellow Dane Schmeichel in the 33rd minute.  Bendtner would shoot over from 25 yards and low from ten, saved by Schmeichel, before the half ended with  Rosicky shoving Watt at the sideline and earning a yellow card.  (One thinks Liam Brady may have words with the midfielder, asking him to take it easy with Arsenal's youth players).

The second half began much the same way as the first, Arsenal's front three not quite linking up with each other or the back (it is pretty clear that using Bendtner on the wing, particularly in combination with Chamakh, doesn't work, as neither of them have the ability to get behind the defense regularly, nor does either provide the other with sterling service).

Arshavin had a shot blocked, which led to a quick Leeds counter.  Max Gradel burst into the box past countryman Emmanuel Eboue, and Denilson, who was otherwise decent on the day, made a really ill-advised attmept at a tackle, succeeding only in tripping up Gradel.  Penalty to Leeds, which Szczesny touched but could not keep out, Snodgrass the shooter.  1-0 to the visitors, and the Emirates grew restless (instead of just quiet).

Wenger's move was immediate.  Alex Song came off for Cesc Fabregas (when many thought that Denilson would be the likely target).  Eight minutes later, Theo Walcott appeared in place of Marouane Chamakh, Bendtner moving to the middle, and Arsenal's attack sped up.  Carlos Vela came on for Tomas Rosicky as Arsenal sought shots on target, but only got headers over the bar and shots that were saved by Schmeichel.

The breakthrough looked to have come in the 89th minute as Bruce stepped on Walcott's boot and tripped him in the box, but referee Mike Dowd made no call, and offsides was given by the linesman.  The missed pk was given a minute later, though, as Walcott ran onto a through ball but was pulled back before he could shoot.  Dowd did not hesitate, and Fabregas stepped up and buried the penalty at the end of ninety minutes.  Arsenal would press for a winner as stoppage time ticked along, Bendtner shooting wildly wide and Denilson unleashing a ferocious effort that was well saved by Schmeichel before Bendtner missed again.  Theo Walcott hit the side netting as time expired.

The outcome will remain up in the air until the replay at Elland Road on either Tuesday the 18th or Wednesday the 19th.

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