Injury-hit Leeds thrashed again in EPL, 4-1 by Arsenal

Sports

Leeds United’s head coach Marcelo Bielsa, right, leaves the field at half-time during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, England, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

LEEDS, England (AP) — Injury-hit Leeds slumped to its second alarming loss in five days, 4-1 at home to Arsenal in the only English Premier League match to take place on Saturday because of a wave of pandemic-affected postponements.

The match was marred by an allegation of racial abuse from a spectator toward Arsenal’s players. It was reported to officials by Arsenal, manager Mikel Arteta said.

Coming off a 7-0 thrashing at Manchester City on Tuesday, Leeds — down to nine senior players and with a 15-year-old on the bench amid an injury crisis — was ripped apart in the first half as Gabriel Martinelli scored twice and Bukayo Saka added another.

Leeds even lost another player, Jack Harrison, to injury before halftime and manager Marcelo Bielsa had his head bowed as he walked back to the dressing rooms, with his team having allowed 15 shots on goal in a chaotic display.

The home side was better organized in the second half and managed a consolation when Raphinha converted a penalty after 19-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt was tripped by Ben White, Arsenal’s former Leeds center back.

Substitute Emile Smith Rowe’s 84th-minute goal, after he was played through by Martin Odegaard, piled on the misery for Leeds, which is five points above the relegation zone having played three games more than third-to-last Burnley.

Arsenal consolidated fourth place in the race for Champions League qualification and is four points above fifth-place West Ham having played 18 of 38 games.

Arteta said the incident involving the alleged racial abuse happened during the first half.

Arteta said it was a “single person” who aimed the alleged abuse apparently toward one of Arsenal’s substitutes.

“Very disappointed because we have done so much in football to try to avoid it,” he said, “but it is a single person. I don’t think that merits that a full stadium pays the price.

“It was a single incident and it has to be reported. It was reported and now the authorities will have to work with the clubs to understand what happened.”

Burnley’s game at Aston Villa was postponed earlier Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Villa squad, trimming the latest round of the Premier League to four games. The other three games are on Sunday.

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