As Arsenal were leading comfortably against Leeds United, the last thing that Jesse Marsch would have wanted was to go down to ten men. However, this is exactly what happened.
Gabriel Martinelli took the ball beyond former Arsenal youth player Luke Ayling who was visibly irritated by the Brazilian’s superior ability. He went two-footed on the 20-year-old, completely missed the ball somehow and sythed down the Arsenal man.
He was initially given a yellow card, but VAR immediately instructed Chris Kavanagh to go to the monitor to reconsider his decision. This is where Alexandre Lacazette showed his fighting colours as the official looked at the footage.
Lacazette was seen shouting at the Leeds United staff as the footage was analysed by the official. Up from his seat on the bench, like David O’Leary in the 1989 title-winning match (who was on the pitch at the time), the Frenchman was the Gunners’ sole spokesperson. Lacazette was clearly irritated by the actions of the Leeds United staff to try and influence the referee’s decision.
What the referee saw did subsequently make him go back and wipe away the initial yellow for Ayling to then pull out the red card. Leaving the rest of his team another half of intense Arsenal pressure with a man less.
Alexandre Lacazette has not started a match since the 2-1 defeat to Brighton last month. Eddie Nketiah has been relied upon since the Frenchman missed the trip to Southampton with Covid.
His two goals in the first half took him up to four for the season. Lacazette’s future is uncertain at this point and Mikel Arteta says they will wait until the end of the season to decide upon his future.
“Well his contract situation allows him to make the decision about his future,” said Arteta. “We have expressed clearly what our intention is, to speak in the summer once we know where we are, about what we are going to do in the future together.
“It is the agreement that we made with him, that was our position, and our position remains the same. That is what we are going to do. The risk of that happening, it was always there since the moment we made that decision, then it is up to him. It is not up to us or him it is up to both parties.
“It is not about me, it is about we as a club, the decision that we made with individuals, the collective, with the future and how we plan things. We made that decision to understand better and have a clearer picture of what we want to do in the summer. That’s what we decided.
“And for the rest, I just want him fully focused on his duty, which is now defend Arsenal in the best possible way, like he has done all the time he has been with us. That’s why he has been wearing the armband of this football club, that’s a big reason.”
With the form that Nketiah is in, it looks unlikely that, barring any fitness problems, the Frenchman will start again. That said, were Arsenal to confirm their Champions League status in the derby next week, perhaps he could feature in the remaining fixtures.
Although, with Chelsea’s poor form, the opportunity to finish third has opened up giving more for Arsenal and Nketiah to fight for. The discussion will soon turn to Nketiah being a priority to renew, considering his deal also expires at the end of the season.