Arsenal hold out for draw at Leeds

LEEDS: Leeds United’s English striker Patrick Bamford jumps up for a header during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road yesterday. — AFP

LONDON: Arsenal held on for a 0-0 draw at Leeds after Nicolas Pepe was sent off for head-butting Ezgjan Alioski, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored after just 42 seconds as Everton won 3-2 at Fulham yesterday. Pepe’s mindless second-half dismissal left Mikel Arteta’s side in trouble at Elland Road and they had to ride their luck to escape with a point. Leeds hit the woodwork three times in the closing stages, but couldn’t inflict a second successive defeat on Arsenal, whose problems mounted when Bukayo Saka limped off with a late injury.

Arsenal have won only one of their last five Premier League games and sit in 11th place, while Leeds are 14th after their third consecutive match without a win. At the end of a week in which Arteta had to deal with a training ground row between Dani Ceballos and David Luiz, the Arsenal manager will be relieved his team showed some fighting spirit to keep Leeds at bay.

Pepe had an early sight of goal when the Ivory Coast winger twisted past Luke Ayling for a cross-shot that came back off the bar. Patrick Bamford tested Bernd Leno with a powerful volley – one of 13 shots Leeds had as they dominated the first half without making the breakthrough. Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been given a rare chance in the central striker’s role, but he was largely anonymous and has scored just twice in his last nine games. The Gunners were reduced to 10 men in the 51st minute when Pepe, frustrated by a previous clash with the Leeds player moments earlier, thrust his head into Alioski’s face, sending him tumbling to the turf. Referee Anthony Taylor went to check the pitchside monitor and showed Pepe a straight red. Leeds substitute Rodrigo hit the bar with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Bamford also struck the woodwork with a glancing header before Raphinha’s stoppage-time shot came back off a post to Arsenal’s relief. At Craven Cottage, Calvert-Lewin maintained his fine form to put Carlo Ancelotti’s side ahead inside a minute. Bobby Decordova-Reid equalized for Fulham, but England striker Calvert-Lewin netted again and Abdoulaye Doucoure got Everton’s third before half-time.

Haller ends drought

Fulham’s Ivan Cavaleiro sent a second-half penalty over the bar and, although Ruben Loftus-Cheek reduced the deficit, Everton held on to win for the first time in five league games. After a three-game losing streak dented their bid to finish in the top four, Everton are up to sixth place. “The most important part of the game was to be back to winning,” Ancelotti said. “We lost energy in the second half, the players were tired. I changed to put more fresh legs on the pitch but we had to defend. In the end it went well.” Fulham remain one place above the relegation zone after their third defeat in four games.

Bottom of the table Sheffield United’s wait for their first win this season goes on after they were beaten 1-0 by West Ham at Bramall Lane. Chris Wilder’s side have lost eight of their first nine league games, making them only the third club to take one point or fewer over that period in the Premier League era. Sebastien Haller broke the deadlock in the 56th minute with his first goal since September.

When Pablo Fornals’ blocked effort ricocheted to Haller just outside the area, the Ivory Coast striker unleashed a fierce shot that flashed into the roof of the net. Declan Rice headed against the bar as West Ham looked for a second, but Oli McBurnie was inches away from equalizing when he crashed a left-footed strike off the woodwork. The last game of the day is at Anfield, where Leicester would replace Tottenham on top of the table if they can beat champions Liverpool, who will climb to second with a victory. — AFP

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