Marcelo Bielsa was disappointed with his side’s organisation as he saw Leeds slip to a 4-2 loss in an entertaining game at the Emirates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting a hat-trick.
The Elland Road outfit have earned plenty of plaudits for their style of football under Bielsa, although their adventure has resulted in some inconsistent results.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had previously compared playing Bielsa’s side as like taking a trip to the dentist, though he saw his side take the lead in the 13th minute, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang getting back among the goals on his return to the starting XI. The Gabon international advanced into the box from left, doing a few step overs, cutting onto his favoured right foot before finishing into the bottom left corner past Illan Meslier.
Just before the half-hour mark, Aubameyang was denied a second as Luke Ayling blocked his goal-bound strike following a cut back from David Luiz down the right.
Shortly after, the Gunners were awarded a penalty as Leeds defender Liam Cooper was adjudged to have brought down Bukayo Saka in the box, only for it to be overturned following a review of the pitchside footage.
They were however given a spot-kick in the 41st minute, Leeds ‘keeper Meslier making a right mess of an attempted turn on the ball, before fouling Saka who had nipped in to steal possession. Aubameyang stepped up and despatched his 200th goal in Europe’s top five leagues.
The north London club would further extend their lead before the break, Mikel Arteta’s side playing some wonderful intricate play inside the Leeds box, the move eventually being finished off by full-back Hector Bellerin who drilled the ball past Meslier at his near post.
3+ – Leeds have conceded 3+ first-half goals for the fourth time in the Premier League this season (also versus Man Utd, Liverpool and Palace), twice as many times as any other side. Disorder. pic.twitter.com/tBG3LehKNh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 14, 2021
Within two minutes of the restart, Aubameyang completed his hat-trick, nodding home unmarked at the back post following a floated ball from youngster Emile Smith Rowe as the hosts looked to be in total control.
However, Leeds midfielder Pascal Struijk pulled one back for the West Yorkshire club with a powerful header past Bernd Leno, the Dutchman getting away from his man and getting a good run at the ball from a Raphinha corner approaching the hour mark.
They pulled another back in the 69th minute as Helder Costa got in front of his man to tuck home a Tyler Roberts cross, while they also had a decent shout for a penalty turned down after Patrick Bamford went tumbling in the box.
Speaking afterwards, Bielsa was disappointed with his side’s organisation in conceded the three first-half goals, while saying Mikel Arteta ‘prepared the game better’ than he did.
“In the first half we should have prevented them scoring three goals,” the Argentine told BBC Sport. “If we were more organised in possession we could have had a different result.
“In the second half we shortened the margin with two goals but conceded the fourth goal and we had chances to score the third which means the ending of the game could have been different.
“We couldn’t pressure their build-up and we could not avoid their pressure when we were trying to build from the back. You could see it clearly the opposing manager prepared the game better than I did.
“We knew what we had to avoid so they would not circulate the ball so comfortably and prepared ourselves to do it but could not avoid it. We did not manage to bring the ball from our half to their half.
“There were three actions that could have deserved a goal and when the difference is only one goal anything is possible. Anyway, we did not manage to score the third goal and this option was lost.”
Next up for Bielsa’s side is another away trip as they take on Wolves at Molineux on Friday evening.