Leeds United, under the stewardship of Simon Grayson, have once again proved why we love the FA Cup.
Leeds, who beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in round 3 last season, and took Tottenham Hotspur to a replay in round 4, have earned themselves a replay in this season’s 3rd round, after a 1-1 draw against a lacklustre Arsenal side at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal may have made nine changes to their starting line-up, however the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Denilson, Emmanuel Eboue and Sebastian Squillaci, who will all have been keen to press their claims for a place in the Gunners first XI, will not have impressed Arsene Wenger with some fairly insipid displays.
Leeds defended well and were resolute throughout, with Alex Bruce particularly impressive, whilst they also offered a threat going forward, through striker Luciano Becchio, schemer Robert Snodgrass and winger Max Gradel.
Indeed, it was clever work from Gradel that lured Arsenal’s midfielder Denilson, who had a particularly poor game – the Brazilian was extremely sloppy in possession – into a needless challenge that earned Leeds a penalty early in the second half. Snodgrass drilled the spot kick past Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal to give Grayson’s side the lead.
Arsenal threw on Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott as they chased an equaliser, and whilst Bendtner and Arshavin were misfiring, the two substitutes combined, Walcott winning a penalty after being pulled by Ben Parker, and Fabregas coolly slotted home the 89th minute penalty to earn a replay for Arsene Wenger’s side – a replay that they scarcely deserved.