Arsenal took a huge step towards securing Champions League football next season as they saw off an ill-disciplined Leeds United 2-1, with the 10-man Leeds United dropping into the English Premier League relegation zone.
It was a fourth successive win for Arsenal, and one that puts them firmly in the driving seat for a top-four spot before Thursday’s north London derby at Tottenham.
But Leeds United’s early capitulation was entirely of their own making, with goalkeeper Illan Meslier gifting Arsenal an opener, before captain, Luke Ayling was sent off for a needless lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.
Eddie Nketiah pounced on Meslier’s loose touch to open the scoring, and then finished a swift move to double Arsenal’s lead before Ayling’s rash challenge left Leeds United a man short for more than an hour.
Leeds United did not have an effort on goal until Diego Llorente headed past Aaron Ramsdale in the 66th minute to tee up more of a nervy finish than anyone inside Emirates Stadium would have anticipated.
Leeds United applied some late pressure, sending Meslier up for set-pieces, but the fourth-placed Arsenal were never seriously in danger of losing their lead, and now hold a four-point lead over Tottenham Hotspur in fifth position.
Defeat for Leeds United, coupled with Everton’s win at Leicester, means Leeds United slip into the bottom three with three matches remaining.
Yesterday also, Everton beat Leicester City 2-1 to climb out of relegation. West Ham United defeated Norwich City 4-0, and Manchester City overwhelmed Newcastle United 5-0 to open a three point lead at the top of the Premier League.