Three points, loads of goals, am impressive performance and to top it all off…..away from home!

As the countdown to kick off slowly approached yesterday I found myself checking my football news feeds for stories that the game was going to get called off. Villa vs Burnley was announced a couple of hours before kick off and it felt like it was only a matter of time before the announcement came from Yorkshire. But with an hour to go and the team news coming out, that fear was assuaged, to be replaced by a new fear and question going through my mind: Can this Arsenal side take advantage away from home?

Let’s face it, we simply had to win yesterday, by hook or by crook. Leeds only had 11 fit senior squad members and they had to give a debut to a youngster at right back and lined the bench with their youth team. It was all injury-related and that is fortunate for us you have to say, but Leeds still had some very good players in that first XI and whilst we were sure to be favourites as the game kicked off, the job still needed to be done.

And that job we certainly did get done. Emphatically.

Mikel named an unchanged team from the West Ham game and I don’t know about you, but I was certainly surprised, because I wondered if we needed to freshen it up a bit in a few positions. This is the time of the year when the games come thick and fast – apparently – and so mixing it up with a view to keeping players fresh is something Mikel is going to have to think about in the coming weeks. But perhaps with all other games called off in the Premier League yesterday, the thoughts were more about whether or not the Boxing Day games would even go ahead, so perhaps Mikel was right in getting the same guys out who had performed so emphatically against West Ham.

It certainly worked. Depleted Leeds side or not, Arsenal set about dismantling them from the opening minutes and within five minutes we should have been ahead. A sublime Odegaard through ball had Lacazette one-on-one and he should have finished to put us ahead. But then Saka missed the rebound and an open goal and I’ll be honest with you, I wondered if this was going to be one of those games we rue the few chances we get are missed.

I needed have worried though, because in Gabriel Martinelli we have a player who is red hot right now and exploding on the pitch every time he steps out on to it. On 16 minutes he struck and he did so with such a fine finish that it looked like a guy in his late 20s who had been doing it for the best part of a decade. The confidence surging through him is massive and we got the full benefit of it yesterday. We dominated Leeds and continued to create chances and within half an hour we had that thing we all worry about until it comes: the all important second goal. And it was that man Martinelli again who struck with a superb finish bearing down on the ‘keeper after a good ball from Xhaka. This is something that we haven’t had for a while i.e. players running in behind and Martinelli did it on Wednesday and followed up last night. One of the benefits of Lacazette playing as a kind of ‘false nine’ is that he vacates that central space for our wide forwards to run in behind to and Martinelli and Saka – also excellent last night – both profit from it. I have been calling for Martinelli to play centrally but I need to check myself, because if you look at where he scored his goals and where he is making his runs, it ain’t from out wide and so shoehorning a player in to a position because it looks better on a teamsheet is naive from me, I must admit. He has to keep what he’s doing from out wide and if he continues that then we’ll be less worried about the disappearing players for the AFCON, that’s for sure.

Yes, Leeds were poor and yes, we fully took advantage and effectively put the game to bed before halftime with Saka’s goal and our third of the game, but you still have to put those chances away. You still have to play what is in front of you and you still have to be cohesive in your attacking play. And what we got yesterday from The Arsenal was exactly that. I thought Lacazette was good, I thought Odegaard was once again superb. Saka sand Martinelli were the stars but all of our players played well and on a night in which we managed to create chance after chance and really take advantage of the absence of the other games, it was so pleasing to see us be ruthless against a depleted and confidence-shorn Leeds.

There were of course some moments of worry. Ben White’s rash challenge to give Leeds a penalty was naive and for about five minutes it gave the home support something to cheer about, but Emile Smith Rowe came on and replicated his goalscoring form too from midweek to put the game to bed and ensure that the silly challenge from White was just a minor footnote in what was overall a thoroughly impressive Arsenal performance.

There was also the fact Tomiyasu came off injured on the hour mark and afterwards Arteta mentioned it was muscular I think. The hope is that it is minor but I suspect that means he won’t be seen on Boxing Day away to Norwich, if the game goes ahead, of course. Arteta did talk about it being a load issue and so hopefully it’s just short term. We can possibly survive without him for a game or two, but we don’t ant this being anything long term and hopefully we get to see him sooner rather than later.

So overall it was a positive evening and ahead of the Christmas period we may have rivals with games in  hand, but we’re doing what we need to do to get results and that is infinitely more preferable in my book. We can bask in the glory of victory today and that is splendid. Here’s to enjoying the rest of the weekend and looking forward to a League Cup showdown against Sunderland on Wednesday night.

Catch you all tomorrow for some more thoughts. Happy Sunday people!