LEEDS, England (Reuters) – Arsenal handed Leeds United their first home loss of the season with a gritty 1-0 victory in a frantic game at Elland Road on Sunday to remain top of the Premier League with their best ever start to a season.
Bukayo Saka’s first-half goal was enough to give Arsenal a spirited victory against an eager Leeds side, marking the first time in the North London club’s history that they have won nine of their opening 10 games in a top-flight season.
Saka opened the scoring for Arsenal against the run of play in the 35th minute when he latched onto Martin Odegaard’s through-ball to smash a shot over goalkeeper Illan Meslier’s head from a narrow angle.
The result left Arsenal on 27 points from 10 games, four ahead of Manchester City, who were playing at Liverpool later on Sunday, and local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
“My heart is still racing but I’m just really happy to get the three points,” Saka told Sky Sports. “It was a really tough game. Leeds did well, especially in the second half, and they put a lot of pressure on us.
“Big momentum for us, we’ve won another game. We need to keep this going and today we showed we can win no matter what.”
In a match that was suspended for 38 minutes shortly after kickoff due to a power cut at the stadium, Arsenal were under intense pressure from an energetic Leeds side who pressed hard for 90 minutes and never let the visitors settle down.
Leeds striker Patrick Bamford had the ball in the net within a minute into the second half as the home crowd erupted, but their joy was short-lived as the referee ruled the effort out for the Englishman’s foul on Arsenal centre back Gabriel.
Leeds had another opportunity when defender William Saliba handled the ball in the box, with the VAR asking referee Chris Kavanagh to take a second look before a penalty was awarded, but Bamford’s strike went wide to give Arsenal a huge let-off.
“I think it would have changed the game. At 1-1, I think we could have pushed the game,” Leeds boss Jesse Marsch said.
The home side were awarded another penalty when Kavanagh sent off Gabriel in added time for kicking out at Bamford but a VAR check revealed the striker had pushed the defender to the ground first and the referee reversed the decision.
Arsenal failed to produce anything of note in the second half but did enough to stop the waves of Leeds attacks, with goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale making four saves and even one tackle in the game.
“It was a really good performance from us. Discipline, concentration over the entire match even with the late start,” Marsch added after the result left Leeds 15th in the tableon nine points from nine games.
“A performance that showed that when we play the way we want to play, we can be very good. That’s the best team in the league right now and today we were better.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)