A year after high profile FA Cup games against Manchester
United and Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds
United were given another glamour tie against high quality opponents
when the third round draw paired them with Arsenal at the Emirates
Manager Simon Grayson: "It's a fantastic draw, Arsenal are one
of the best teams in the country and are one of the top footballing
teams in Europe. I'm sure our supporters will look forward to
the game and we will sell the full allocation once again.
"It's amazing when you look at the draws we've had… In an 18-month
period, we've played Liverpool, Man
U, Tottenham, and now Arsenal in the cups which is fantastic for
the club and the fans.
"As I said before the Man U game last season, we have a lot of
League games to come before then and that is our focus. The players
will all want to be involved for the Arsenal game and the League
games are so important to us."
Chairman Ken Bates: "We know we can't lose, no one expects us
to win which means they are under no pressure. The players can
go out and express themselves and give a good account of themselves.
They won't be saying in the dressing room this is a vital match
and we must win this, the future of the club's in your hands.
"I would think that Simon will say this is a fantastic opportunity
in a magnificent stadium that holds 60,000 people so let's go
and show what we can do and with that attitude the pressure is
"We will be on the world stage again because we are live on television
and then hopefully we will have a great game, a great day and
great day out and after that everything is a bonus.
"The Premiership will hopefully get an idea of what they are
missing at the moment."
The draw revived memories of previous cup encounters, for United
the most memorable being when they beat
the Gunners in 1972 to win the FA Cup by way of Allan Clarke's
memorable diving header. The same score had seen
Leeds win the League Cup in 1968 in
a drab, ill-tempered Wembley final.
In 1983, the two sides had taken part in a marathon FA Cup fourth
round encounter. The first match at Highbury finished 1-1, with
the Elland Road replay returning the same score. In the second
replay the Gunners won 2-1.
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Eight years later, the two clubs met again in the fourth round,
when it took four matches and 420 minutes to separate them, an
outcome which persuaded the FA to introduce penalty shoot outs.
Leeds did not go into the 2011 encounter in particularly good
form; since beating Championship leaders QPR 2-0 on 18 December,
they had lost their way, playing through three draws and a defeat.
Losing away to out-of-form Cardiff City was particularly disappointing.
United had been lucky to go in at half time a single goal in arrears,
but having equalised with a splendid strike from Robert Snodgrass,
they got on top and looked like taking all three points. In the
end, they lost to a sloppy goal that had Simon Grayson bemoaning
his lot: "We conceded from a short corner and from a long ball
over the top. They were both goals we could have cut out. We switched
off and it cost us a point - and maybe all three. We should have
had more points over the Christmas period but no team has got
what it wanted and we are not going to beat ourselves up about
Asked if he would take a defensive approach at the Emirates,
Grayson commented, "No, we won't be doing that. We will try and
play how we play on a regular basis. I want us to score goals.
That is my philosophy. I don't want to sacrifice the attacking
side of it with a defensive approach. We have players who I feel
can hurt any team that we play against. We will have a go. We
have nothing to lose. There have been teams who went there and
got results by defending and others who did so by taking the game
"Before every game, we do a presentation of all the strengths
and weaknesses of the opposition. I am not sure how long we will
spend on their weaknesses, to be honest. And there will be plenty
of strengths. But Arsenal have deficiencies, like every team in
the world. They are only human and do make mistakes, which we
have to capitalise on.
"We have a talented group of players who can create chances.
We showed that last season, as we have again this year against
the top teams in the Championship. We know we are going up a level
now but I won't tell the players to do anything different to what
they do week in, week out. I don't want to sit back and invite
pressure. If we are going to lose, we will go down fighting.
"I would back this squad to win a lot of matches in the Premier
League if we were in there now. We would also lose a lot, too.
We are a long way off the Premier League but this weekend is a
test for us to see where we are at. We have nothing to lose. Cup
games are a one off and, hopefully, we can cause a shock.
"All I ask of my players is that they finish the game having
no regrets. Ninety per cent of them will have never been to the
Emirates before, never mind
One player who did have previous experience of the stadium was
Gunners winger Sanchez Watt, enjoying his second loan spell at
Elland Road after contributing in the closing weeks of the promotion
campaign. Surprisingly, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger agreed to Watt
playing in the Cup-tie, and Simon Grayson was delighted to be
able to recall him to his starting line up for the first time
since October, omitting Ross McCormack as a consequence. Elsewhere,
Alex Bruce took Neill Collins' place at centre-back, and Luciano
Becchio returned at Billy Paynter's expense.
Wenger rang the changes after a goalless draw against Manchester
City and fielded a number of reserves, though he did select ten
full internationals, including Alex Song, Andrey Arshavin, Marouane
Chamakh, Emmanuel Eboue, Tomas Rosicky and Nicklas Bendtner. Ominously,
Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Gael Clichy were
all on the bench.
United kicked off and immediately got onto the front foot, Becchio
nodding on to Max Gradel down the left. Arsenal were forced to
concede the throw, but the Whites (or Royal Blues on the day)
could make nothing of it and were forced to go back into their
own half. When they did launch the ball forward it ran harmlessly
on to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal were the first to show any real threat, but when a crossfield
ball promised to put Bendtner through on the right in the second
minute, Ben Parker was quick to make ground and put it out for
That was the signal for some nice controlled midfield possession
by the Gunners, though United were quick to snap at their heels
and Gradel showed that his pace down the left would offer a potential
ace in the hole.
Watt, too, showed his potential when given possession by Jonny
Howson's smart challenge and pass after four minutes. He looked
like he would cut Arsenal open with a surging run through the
inside-right channel but was dispossessed by Sebastien Squillaci's
block tackle as he reached the edge of the Gunners' penalty area.
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After Andy O'Brien ended an Arsenal attack by picking up a through
ball and passing back to Kasper Schmeichel, Becchio was given
possession deep into Arsenal territory when Song's misplaced pass
fell to him. The striker had Robert Snodgrass racing down the
left into a marvellous position but elected to take on the chance
himself and his scuffed execution saw a golden opportunity wasted.
In the fifth minute Alex Bruce launched himself into a fierce
challenge on Arshavin as the Russian threatened to cut through
the Leeds defence after some neat interplay between Denilson and
Arsenal clearly had a cutting edge, but United were denying them
space in which to work when they reached the final third. The
Gunners were playing a high back line, which was squeezing into
the middle and encouraged Leeds by leaving some yawning gaps.
United hinted at danger on the counter, fluffing one opportunity
when Howson's driven through ball was just too long for Watt when
he broke beyond the back four.
The eleventh minute brought the first clear opening. Arsenal
came out of defence with some marvellous one touch football and
Rosicky played Arshavin in beyond United's back four with a splendid
through ball. The Russian was clean through on goal and had 15
yards of space in which to weight up his options but Schmeichel
came out to meet him and calmly stood tall, using his chest to
block the shot that came in.
The nature of the scuffed shot betrayed Arshavin's lack of confidence;
he should have done far better in the circumstances and it was
an afternoon on which little went right for him.
Within a minute, United had a chance of their own after Bendtner's
wayward pass found only the space between the onrushing Becchio,
Snodgrass and Gradel. But when Becchio fed Gradel, the winger
could not get the better of Eboue, who calmly stepped in to take
the ball and return it to Bendtner.
Arsenal's football was as crisp and attractive as ever, but United
had the bit firmly between their teeth, working hard in midfield,
showing composure in their own half and resisting manfully all
over the park.
The first corner of the game fell to Arsenal in the 13th minute,
but proved a damp squib after Denilson controlled the ball with
his arm as it reached him on the edge of the area.
United were quickly off again down to the other end, with Snodgrass
dispossessing Rosicky as the Czech dwelt on the ball a little
too long. The Scot slipped the ball through for Becchio down the
inside-left channel but goalkeeper Szczesny got a blocking hand
to the ball as the striker sought to go round him.
On the quarter hour mark, with the chants of "Marching On Together"
echoing around the Emirates, United
combined deftly down the right and when the ball ran loose off
Snodgrass, Watt took it on to fire left-footed over the Arsenal
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After 22 minutes, Bendtner ran at the United defence before releasing
Rosicky, but when his cross from the right came over for Bendtner,
O'Brien rose to head clear. The ball fell to Watt and he held
the ball up well before launching it forward to Gradel on the
opposite flank, but Eboue was good enough to snuff out the opportunity.
A couple of minutes later, Chamakh required treatment from his
trainer after a shuddering challenge from Bruce caught him on
the top of his foot. Almost immediately, Ben Parker was the first
man into the book of referee Phil Dowd after clipping Eboue's
heels as he looked to break away down the right.
With twenty-seven minutes gone, Chamakh cushioned a long ball
back into the path of Arshavin, but Schmeichel went down well
to gather his half volleyed effort at the second attempt.
The Gunners were starting to raise the temperature now with some
fluid attacking play and when Chamakh went running through onto
a bouncing ball, Bruce had to stretch to stay ahead of him before
clipping behind for a corner.
From the resultant flag kick, Bendtner had two close range attempts
at goal, but on each occasion a United defender blocked the ball
away, Howson from right on the goal line. Then Schmeichel parried
away Denilson's shot for another corner, and Becchio had to hoof
clear from within the goal area.
As United drew breath with a rare break into the Arsenal half,
they had the chance to pressurise Szczesny's goal, but were flagged
offside when Gradel was played in down the left.
Leeds continued to look for the quick breakaway when the opportunity
presented itself; Snodgrass proved adept at making the most of
the possession he was starting to find, turning away cleverly
from one piece of Song pressure, though his long ball forward
was too heavy for Gradel.
In the 33rd minute Arshavin looked to have played Bendtner in
on goal with a lovely through ball, but Bruce turned and stretched
out a long leg to play the ball away from danger just as it seemed
The unmarked Chamakh's powerful header from the resultant corner
was straight into the safe hands of Schmeichel.
Down the other end, Eboue took some liberties when coolly controlling
the ball deep inside his own area. He surrendered possession under
pressure from United forwards, vainly claiming a free kick. Leeds
could make nothing of the chance and Howson gave away a free kick
for a foul on Denilson as the ball ran away from him.
Five minutes from the break, Bendtner
threatened when he cut inside from the left but his shot on the
run ballooned harmlessly over Schmeichel's bar, more threatening
to the spectators than the Leeds goal.
In the 42nd minute, Watt dispossessed the overlapping Gibbs and
made to break away down the right touchline. He flicked the ball
outside Rosicky, who assumed it would drift out of play. It didn't
and the Czech nudged the off balance winger to send him crashing
to the turf at the cost of Arsenal's first yellow card.
Then when Arshavin made to cut into the Leeds box, four United
men combined to stop his thrust and Alex Bruce was left limping
heavily for his part in a courageous block.
In the seconds before the half time whistle, Bendtner came flying
in to the box and crashed in a shot but Schmeichel blocked it
well and gripped the loose ball to his chest to deny Arsenal the
goal their first half display had probably merited.
United had done wonderfully well in this first period, showing
boundless energy in denying Arsenal the room to really hurt them.
The Gunners had showcased their customary clever passing, but
had for the most part been kept at arm's length by some spirited
collective defensive work.
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Arsenal showed first in the second half and some patient midfield
work provided the platform to launch Song for a run at the square
United defence. He made it all the way to the byline, but his
cross was behind Chamakh and headed clear by a diving O'Brien.
A free kick for a foul on Becchio on the left gave United the
chance to exert some pressure of their own. Parker's long ball
forward allowed Leeds to fashion an opportunity with some decent
passing of their own, but Howson's ball down the right channel
was too long for Watt and was gathered by the keeper.
Arsenal came straight back down the left and Arshavin's beautiful
crossfield ball to Bendtner promised much. However, the Dane's
attempted one-two with Rosicky came to nothing and Leeds were
able to clear. The ball fell to Song, thirty yards out but his
wayward attempt to find Arshavin on the left sailed away for a
After 48 minutes, Bendtner skinned Parker down the left, but
Bruce rose to head the cross safely behind for a corner with Chamakh
lurking in wait.
Rosicky and Song combined in a splendid one-two and the Czech
floated over a promising cross from the left, but there wasn't
an Arsenal man in sight as it dropped far beyond the back post.
It had been all Arsenal thus far in the half with United struggling
to get any possession of note, and wasting what they did secure.
But in the 53rd minute, after Snodgrass and Watt had made a promising
thrust down the left, United were suddenly ahead. Snodgrass showed
some clever control and when he fed Gradel who cut at pace into
the box, a flat footed Denilson dangled a leg. The diminutive
Ivorian went tumbling over it and Phil Dowd pointed instantly
to the penalty spot.
Szczesny kept Snodgrass waiting an age before he could take the
spot kick, and got his hands to the low strike, but couldn't prevent
it going under him. Snodgrass was hotly pursued by his team mates
as he ran to take the acclaim of the ecstatic 8,500 United fans
in the corner of the stadium.
There was no immediate panic from Arsenal, but within five minutes,
with United given fresh impetus and heart by the goal, Cesc Fabregas
had been brought off the bench to replace Song.
It was a real Cup-tie now with Arsenal pouring forward in search
of a redeeming equaliser, but United looking sound and composed
at the back and threatening whenever Snodgrass, Gradel and Watt
had the opportunity to exploit what space there was on the flanks.
With an hour gone, there was a hint that United could pull off
the shock of the round, as they had done a year earlier by winning
at Old Trafford.
When Fabregas freed Eboue on the right just outside the Leeds
box, his cross was begging for Chamakh to bury it at the far post
but O'Brien got enough of a head on the ball to take it away from
the Moroccan. When Gibbs crossed it back in from the left, Bendtner's
looping header cleared Schmeichel's bar.
More Arsenal pressure came down the right with Arshavin, Bendtner
and Rosicky combining well to manufacture space, but Bruce slid
Rosicky's driven cross away for another corner.
When Leeds did manage another thrust, Johnson stood up a cross
from the left byline that Szczesny had to touch behind as it threatened
to drop under his bar. From the resultant corner, an unmarked
Becchio drove a header goalwards only for the goalkeeper to demonstrate
speed of reflex in parrying it wide of his goal.
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Arsenal were running aground on some packed United defending,
but there seemed to be opportunities down the flanks with Connolly
and Parker being sucked inside by the waves of pressure. The arrival
of Theo Walcott as a 68th-minute substitute promised even greater
danger from that source, though frustration was growing amongst
the home fans as the customary lack of an end product was dogging
After a bad back pass by Squillaci to Szczesny caused him some
disquiet as Watt followed in at pace, Becchio earned United a
free kick from 30 yards when Djourou sent him sprawling as he
looked to control a high ball on his chest. Snodgrass'
effort curved fractionally wide of Szczesny's right hand post
as the goalkeeper scrambled to reach it.
A long ball down to the other end gave Walcott the opportunity
to show his pace but O'Brien got to the cross before Bendtner
to concede the corner, with the Dane appealing vainly for a foul.
It was real end to end stuff now and when Connolly and Snodgrass
pushed hard down United's right, Arsenal were somewhat lucky to
clear the ball from the edge of their penalty area after first
Watt and then Johnson failed to get a clean strike.
In an attempt to stem the Arsenal tide, Simon Grayson brought
Leigh Bromby on after 76 minutes as replacement for Watt; it brought
little respite with Walcott a lurking menace as Arsenal pushed
with increasing desperation for an equaliser.
Howson was the next to have his name taken, for bringing Fabregas
down from behind as the Arsenal skipper raced away from him on
a dangerous run down the middle. It was taking one for the team
because the Spaniard threatened to manufacture a breakthrough.
Denilson also received a caution for a cynical block on Johnson
as the midfielder tried to surge forward into the Arsenal half.
It was becoming all too rare a sight now, as the game ticked towards
its eightieth minute. It was one way traffic with United dropping
into a containing 5-4-1 formation, daring Arsenal to pierce their
armour. There were too many examples of impatience and overhit
passes drifting out for goal kicks for Arsene Wenger's peace of
mind but his men had the momentum now and he looked to stoke up
the pressure with his final substitution, bringing Carlos Vela
on for Rosicky.
A Fabregas free kick from the right after 80 minutes brought
a great headed chance for Bendtner, but he could not control his
effort which sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Arshavin scampered at the middle of United's back four but O'Brien
was good enough to block his shot. Seconds later, Schmeichel smothered
Gibbs' curling low cross from the left.
Arshavin found Walcott again on the right, though the winger
had to show good control to take the steepling pass. He lost no
time in firing in a dangerous cross, but Bruce denied Bendtner
a clear opening and the ball looped into Schmeichel's arms.
Howson engineered a smart break and fed Gradel down the left.
His low centre offered the tiring Becchio an opportunity deep
in Arsenal's goal area but Djourou was first to the ball and cleared
it for a throw.
In the 85th minute, Davide Somma was summoned from the bench
to replace Becchio, the Argentinian almost out on his feet after
a thankless afternoon with only the Arsenal back four for company.
Two minutes later Walcott had a wonderful opportunity for the
equaliser; after a midfield melee, the winger was played into
space beyond the United defence with only Schmeichel to beat,
but his first time effort was straight into the Dane's hands.
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Seconds later, referee Phil Dowd initially gave a positive response
to fervent penalty appeals when Walcott appeared to be fouled
by Bruce, but changed his mind after the linesman flagged for
offside against Bendtner. It was justice done, for after the game
Walcott admitted diving.
The furious home supporters bayed their displeasure at Dowd,
but with 90 seconds of normal time remaining, they got the penalty
for which they prayed. Walcott ran past Parker on the outside
when a ball from Bendtner came through and the United left-back
pulled Walcott's arm, unbalancing him. This time there was to
be no reprieve.
Fabregas fired his spot kick straight down the middle. Had Schmeichel
not dived to his right he must surely have saved it, but the ball
struck the net to save Arsenal and break United hearts.
Simon Grayson brought Andy Hughes on in place of Max Gradel as
his final change to defend what United had left as the assistant
referee signalled four minutes of injury time.
In that stoppage time, the Gunners had chances to win the game,
but Bendtner screwed a shot wide when he should have at least
tested Schmeichel, who then made a stunning diving save to palm
a Denilson shot around the post. Walcott rapped the side netting
from a tight angle with Phil Dowd looking at his watch, but United
held firm to earn a well-deserved draw and
take the tie to an Elland Road replay.
Walcott said afterwards with disarming honesty, "I want to apologise
to the managers because I actually dived. I was trying to win
the penalty. I said to one of their players 'would you have done
it?' and he said he probably would have.
"I am not the sort of player to do it but I own up to it and
apologise. It is something I don't want to see in my game.
"I have heard some players say if there is a slight touch, go
down and it can work both ways. It was one of those things. I
am not happy with myself for doing that but I am happy that we
got the draw.
"I had a little joke with the referee afterwards saying 'that
was my first dive, can you tell?'
"I don't have to own up to it and I can't speak for other players
but I have just expressed how I feel. I hope people respect that."
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Arsene Wenger had been keen to avoid a replay with a two-legged
Carling Cup semi-final against Ipswich on the horizon, but in
the end the Frenchman was relieved to earn another crack at Elland
"It was not exactly the wish I had before the game but it was
the second worst wish," admitted Wenger. "The worst would have
been to go out. We go to Ipswich on Wednesday, we play West Ham
on Saturday and then the replay of the FA Cup is after that.
"I must say at first that it was a very difficult game because
it was a real Cup game and Leeds were up for it, they played well.
It was the kind of game where you felt that it was important not
to go 1-0 down. When we were 1-0 down I felt that Wojciech kept
us in the game with a good save on the header [from Becchio].
"We looked like we would come back but we were short of time
and it was important to keep the momentum and not to go out today
because that would have been a shocker.
"Even when we equalised we still had three chances at 1-1 but
we couldn't take them. At least we are still in the Cup and hopefully
we can do it at Leeds.
"It is a good warning that we got today. But we knew before the
game that Leeds went to Old Trafford last year and won, and they
had a draw at Tottenham. Overall this team have belief in that
competition, from last year certainly. They did very well, very
aggressive but in a good way, not a negative way, they closed
us down everywhere and we had problems to pass through their lines.
They were dangerous as well and it was important for us not to
give a goal away, but we did."
Frustration from supporters was aimed at Andrei Arshavin and
Nicklas Bendtner and Wenger acknowledged the two strikers' lack
of confidence. "It's not through a lack of desire with Arshavin,"
said Wenger, who attempted to rally the Russian from the touchline.
"He wants to do well. Every player during a season has strong
and weaker periods and he's had a weaker period, then two or three
weeks on the bench and I've no worries that he will come back
into the team. But confidence suffers a little bit from that.
They could explain better to you. The longer it didn't go for
them, the more the confidence kicks in but even when you're a
regular it affects you as a striker. The fans were frustrated.
That comes from when you don't win. The fans are demanding. We
were not consistent technically and so they picked on our inconsistencies."
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Simon Grayson was justifiably proud despite being denied a famous
FA Cup scalp: "Obviously it is tinged with a bit of disappointment
because we were minutes away from pulling off a famous result.
"I said to the players beforehand to just do themselves and the
fans proud and they have walked off the pitch having done that.
Individuals have done well but any success we have had in the
past and will do in the future is about us as a team collectively.
"Arsenal are a fantastic football club and it is testament to
our players they have had to bring on Fabregas and Walcott to
try to win the game. There are many teams who come here and have
been on the end of a hiding. We have done well for ourselves and
will approach the replay with the same attitude.
"We were under a lot of pressure at times, Kasper made some good
saves and I thought it was going to be our day. Unfortunately
the late penalty decision went against us but the players can
be extremely proud. They worked hard, especially when Arsenal
had plenty of possession, and we caused them a threat or two.
"We so nearly did it again… You're looking at the clock and counting
down the minutes and you think it's your day.
"We were under pressure at times, Kasper made some saves, and
we were very close, but the players can be very proud of what
they did. When we did have the ball we caused them a threat or
"We knew that would be the case where they have a lot of the
ball. You don't have 50 per cent of the ball against Arsenal.
It was testament that they had to bring on Fabregas and Walcott,
but we kept on going.
"We had a great opportunity at 1-0 when Luciano forced a great
save. Equally we had to ride out luck at times, but we nearly
got another result. They are a fantastic side to watch but our
players should be extremely proud and we'll go again in the replay.
"It was no fluke. We have a great amount of belief."
Grayson said he had no complaints over the penalty decision which
earned Arsenal a draw and he was quick to pay tribute to the 8,500
travelling fans who celebrated another great result for the club.
"Wherever we go they are brilliant. We wanted to give them something
again, just like last year at Man U, and I'm delighted we got
a result for them."
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