1. Arsenal respond to City beating Liverpool
The day began with Manchester City hosting Liverpool in the early kick-off and so supporters packing out the bars around Emirates Stadium — and perhaps the Arsenal players themselves — had one eye on events elsewhere before their own game.
It is therefore possible that City’s emphatic response to falling 1-0 down — easing to a 4-1 win — contributed to a flat start in which, a Jesus headed chance aside, Leeds were the better team. Crysencio Summerville caused problems almost every time he burst forward and Ramsdale was forced into action twice early on.
But from the moment Arsenal took the lead, the result never felt in doubt as Arsenal matched the improvement City made in their own goal difference with a three-goal win of their own. This was largely a stress-free afternoon for the Gunners, even after Kristensen’s 76th-minute effort, and Arsenal can tick another game off with nine remaining in their title run-in.
2. Jesus ends his drought
Gabriel Jesus’ penalty was his first goal in 18 games for club and country, the longest drought of his professional career. On his first Premier League start since undergoing knee surgery in December, Jesus arguably got better as the match wore on.
A poor header from Granit Xhaka’s 12th-minute cross was an inauspicious start but a typical piece of trickery in the box duped Ayling into a clumsy tackle to win a penalty, which he then converted to turn this game in Arsenal’s favour.
His second goal was a smart finish, meeting Trossard’s cross to put the game beyond Leeds. Jesus’ 60th-minute substitution ended a promising return which will add a further sense of momentum to Arsenal’s title charge.
3. Trossard enables Saka to get a breather
This was the first time Bukayo Saka had not started a league game since December 2021. It was something of a gamble given the 21-year-old’s fine form this season but he missed training on Friday through illness and Arteta deemed him not fit enough to include from the outset.
The Gunners looked as though they may have missed his spark in a slow start but it is another nod to Arsenal’s shrewd January business that Trossard replaced Saka to play an influential role in putting this game beyond Leeds. He showed his close control and vision in the box to find Jesus for Arsenal’s third goal and his eighth assist of the season.
Only Kevin De Bruyne (12) and Saka (10) have more league assists this season than the nine registered by the 28-year-old whom Arsenal acquired for £27 million from Brighton & Hove Albion in January. Saka was introduced on the hour mark for Jesus and had the rare luxury of going through the motions as the home side ran out easy winners.
Best and worst performers
Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal: Back on the scoresheet and completed 24 of his 28 passes.
Leandro Trossard, Arsenal: Created more chances (three) than any other player on the pitch.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, Arsenal: Had a game-high 116 touches, helping Arsenal overload Leeds in midfield.
Luke Ayling, Leeds: Needless challenge gifted Arsenal a first-half penalty and almost botched a simple goal-line clearance for what would have been a comical own goal.
Brenden Aaronson, Leeds: Largely anonymous up front before being replaced on 65 minutes.
Highlights and notable moments
Gabriel Jesus ended his long wait for a goal from the penalty spot, but he didn’t have to wait long to net another from open play as he rounded off a lovely move that he helped build.
Gabriel Jesus has a brace and look at how much it means! ❤️
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 1, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
Gabriel Jesus speaking to Sky Sports on his return to the team: “Everyone is playing so well. It is easy to come back. The most important thing is that everyone that has come in has played good. I want to score every game, you know. But sometimes it can’t happen. I am more happy with the three points than the goals. Congrats for the team. Zini [Oleksandr Zinchenko] joked with me yesterday, because we were practising penalties and I just took that one like I always do, stopping. He said, ‘In the game, you never do it like this’, so I showed him clips. I was calm and I remember him as well.”
Arsenal defender Ben White said the club weren’t distracted by Manchester City’s game earlier in the day: “I don’t watch football so I was just focused on the game today and that was it. There’s a lot of noise going on outside, and everyone is just keeping it very quiet and just getting on with what we are doing. I don’t really know what’s right or wrong, I have never been in this position [competing in a title race] before. So we are just keeping quiet, heads down and working hard.”
Leeds boss Javi Gracia to the BBC on the club’s battle against relegation: “I have the players that I have [fit]. I didn’t want to complain before the game and I do not want to complain now. I have very good players and I believe in all of them. We have the players to compete. The way we competed today, maybe better in the first half. We have to do it as well as possible in the next. We have another game in three days and we have to be ready for that.
“Nobody has any doubt about the commitment and desire of my players. They show that in all of the different performances. We will do it in the next game and I think maybe a better result. I don’t look at the table and the other teams. I try to be focused on ourselves and prepare for the next game. Don’t waste energy on others, just ourselves.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
The last time Bukayo Saka was named among the substitutes for a Premier League match was a 3-2 loss to Manchester United on Dec. 2, 2021.
Gabriel Jesus ended a 14-game goal drought in all club competitions, the longest of his professional career. He scored his second brace for Arsenal and his first since Aug. 13 against Leicester City.
Despite only signing for the club on Jan. 20 this year, Leandro Trossard’s seven Premier League assists for Arsenal this season are more than any of his teammates except for Bukayo Saka, who has 10.
Arsenal: The Gunners have two testing road trips coming up, with a visit to Liverpool on April 9 followed by a London derby at West Ham United on April 16.