Leeds United begin the week in the relegation zone, following a punishing 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Sunday afternoon. A disastrous first 30 minutes which saw an Eddie Nketiah brace followed by a Luke Ayling red card set the tone for the loss, while Everton’s win at Leicester means Jesse Marsch’s side are now favorites to go down.
The Emirates press box was full and this morning’s national newspapers make somewhat bleak reading for Whites fans. Here is a look what they have to say about the match and Leeds’ survival chances.
‘This was suicide football’
In the Mail, Ian Ladyman is fairly scathing on Leeds’s chances of bearing the drop.
Read more: Player ratings as mistakes cost Leeds United at Arsenal
“This was a game that started and pretty much finished with an injudicious back pass, a bad first touch and, as a consequence, a goal.
“The pass, in the fifth minute, was from Leeds captain Luke Ayling, the touch was from his goalkeeper Illan Meslier and the goal, snapping in on the mistake, was from Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal.
“It really was that simple for Arsenal and it really was that disastrous for Leeds. From that moment, the outcome of this game was pretty much established. Leeds, seemingly intent on overplaying in and around their own penalty area, never looked set up to Everything they did was laced with jeopardy.
“Theirs is a relegation battle that is starting to smell very bad indeed. The revival overseen by their American coach Jesse Marsch has now hit the buffers and next it is Chelsea at Elland Road on Wednesday night.
“It feels as though they must take something from that and the improvement on this display must be marked if they are to so. Despite the late attempt to grab an unlikely point, this was a dreadful performance from Marsch’s team for the first hour. It was chaotic and disorganized.
“Marsch is meant to have brought some sense of order to Leeds since the difficult final days of Marcelo Bielsa’s reign but this was suicide football. Arsenal enjoyed themselves from the outset and were allowed to. Their football was slick and the disappointment for Mikel Arteta will be that his team did not score more goals. “
‘A start so disastrous, so catastrophically inept, that it can define a season’
In the Times, James Gheerbrant zeros in on Leeds’ desperately poor start.
“Leeds are now in the relegation zone, trailing Burnley on goal difference, with Everton’s win away to Leicester City having further darkened the picture for them. They might be buoyed by how they ended this match, but they were sunk by the sort of start so disastrous, so catastrophically inept, that it can define a season – and they will also have to deal with a suspension for their influential captain Luke Ayling. “
‘Fighting spirit and the incredible support they receive from fans is United’s best hope of survival’
In the Mirror, John Cross does see a way out of trouble for Leeds.
“It was one of the worst, most farcical opening 30 minutes from a Premier League team you will ever see. Leeds looked to be on course for a real thrashing.
“But Arsenal took their foot off the gas, wasted chances, allowed Leeds to stage the most unlikely comeback, and the visitors so nearly grabbed something from a game they could have easily lost by five or six.
“Boss Jesse Marsch was urging his players forward in the dying minutes, and they showed remarkable spirit bearing in mind how poor they had been in the first half. But they now find themselves in the drop zone.
“Quite how Arsenal did not kill off the game is anyone’s guess while Leeds face a desperate fight for survival. They are level on points with Burnley with a far poorer goal difference – and it is easy to see why.
“Marsch has given them a lift after taking over from Marcelo Bielsa, but has not been able to solve their defensive issues. Fighting spirit and the incredible support they receive from fans is United’s best hope of survival.
“If they can put the two together, they can still get out.”
‘A recipe for major trouble’
The Guardian’s Nick Ames says the suspension of Luke Ayling could be ket.
“Already depleted, Leeds now miss a vital component for their own decisive series of matches. They are in the relegation zone and face Chelsea next: it is a recipe for major trouble.” If we start playing blame games with players, we’re screwed, “Jesse Marsch said. In fairness there would have been plenty to go round.” We’ve got to stick together and fight for points, it’s not time to point the finger. “”
‘It looks increasingly like a straight fight between Leeds and Burnley’
The i’s Kevin Garside hones in on Leeds’ battle to beat the drop.
“Following Everton’s accelerating revival at the King Power, it looks increasingly like a straight fight between Leeds and Burnley to stay up.
“Leeds host Chelsea and Brighton before in pursuit of concluding at Brentford. Burnley go to Tottenham and Aston Villa and then face Newcastle at Elland Road on the final day. It is tempting to hedge in the direction of Burnley on the grounds that neither wins another point.
“Leeds must hope the post-goal resistance of the final 25 minutes converts into something tangible over the remaining fixtures.
“We must wait until the fourth week of May for all this to play out, further disturbing the game’s body clock.”
‘Marsch actually looked like he was praying’
In the Sun, Mark Irwin says Leeds need to improve quickly, if they are to beat the drop.
“There were times when Marsch actually looked like he was praying as he looked on from his technical area.
“But even divine intervention is not going to be enough to save this lot unless they buck their ideas up pretty damned quickly.
2Wednesday’s home game against Chelsea is now going to be pivotal to their survival hopes but at least they can still rely on the supporters who did not stop singing from first whistle to last. “
‘They gifted Arsenal the most comfortable of afternoons’
Finally, the Telegraph’s Matt Law says Leeds were fortunate to only lose by a single goal.
“Eddie Nketiah scored twice in the opening 10 minutes and Arsenal should have been five or six goals ahead before Diego Llorente gave Leeds hope in a game that should have produced yet another blow to their terrible goal difference.
“Jesse Marsch may well argue that the fact his team hung on in there gives Leeds hope they can still climb out of the relegation zone, but the reality was that they had done pretty much everything in their power to gift Arsenal the most comfortable of afternoons , while Arteta’s side instead made life uncomfortable for themselves. “