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Leeds United tunnel meeting, referee fan interactions and off-camera moments in Arsenal’s savage defeat

Los Blancos were guilty of wastage in the box as they somehow missed the 1-0 losers in a game that had some bizarre moments. From the 30-minute blackout and Premier League system delay, to VAR interventions and the teams’ respective performances, it was a day to expect the unexpected. And here is the YEP plug.

A makeshift Premier League left-back can easily find himself bowled over by world-class wingers, but the youngster was superb against Bukayo Saka. Only once did the Arsenal man get the better of the defender and even then Struijk did just enough to steer his man away and into Liam Cooper’s way. Off the ball, Struijk was physical and smart, he was excellent, helping Leeds build some great attacks. He put the ball in good areas on several occasions, even under pressure. It’s hard to see even a fully fit Junior Firpo approaching the left aft berth right now.

An assist made headlines for the Spaniard, despite a brilliant, promising and smart performance so far. It’s hard to understand why a player of such experience would think a huge crossfield change was the proper play in this position and the execution was equally disconcerting. His composure went with the pass after Arsenal scored and his half-time off was no shock.

LONG DELAY – Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch gives instructions during the enforced blackout break against Arsenal. Photo: Simon Hulme

The half-time substitute can consider himself treated harshly, to be in this category, in a sense because he helped change the game, pulled off big moves to create chances and gave the defense of Arsenal an awful moment. He just didn’t find the net. Confidence seemed an issue, especially when he stepped forward to take the penalty. He deserves huge credit for volunteering a second time, even though VAR’s intervention robbed him of the opportunity. Needs a lens, badly.

Ben White was back at Elland Road, where he enjoyed an equally successful season as a Brighton loanee. There was a warm welcome in the tunnel, in the form of a hug and a chat with Illan Meslier before the game.

Shortly after, White was heading back down the tunnel accompanied by Meslier and the rest of the game’s 22 players as a power surge hit the Premier League systems and forced a lengthy delay. The sad shake of referee Chris Kavanagh’s head as the South Stand voiced his disapproval made it clear he was equally frustrated and his helmet wouldn’t be coming back online anytime soon. In the Kop, someone thoughtfully introduced a beach ball into the proceedings and at least allowed a few at that end of the field to pass the time.

On the ground, Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood took advantage of the stoppage of play to take advantage of a kick. The pair were on the bench again and, as always, were as thick as thieves.

When everyone emerged to warm up ahead of the restart, Kavanagh appeared to have the slightest hint of a wry smile on his face as Leeds fans chanted, in unprintable language, the usefulness of VAR.

The next time Leeds returned to the tunnel, for the second half, Stuart Dallas was there to get a few excited, including his close friend and club captain Liam Cooper.

It was a different kind of geeing during a second-half break for Arsenal players, with Granit Xhaka delivering a boost to a side struggling to retain possession and visibly wilting under pressure from Leeds in the early stages of the second period.

Leeds’ brilliant start cheered the crowd on and as the pressure clawed the ball back to allow the chance to be created, Marsch turned to the west stand and pumped his fists, roaring towards them to turn up the volume, which they did. A member of Mikel Arteta’s backroom staff was less enamored with the way the game was going and as another pass was caught by a man in a white shirt, he hammered his press office in frustration.

The hosts were also irritated, mainly thanks to their own inability to put the ball in the net and Arsenal’s happiness in taking their time on restarts. Time-wasting has been a theme at Elland Road this season and substitute Marc Roca was begging the fourth official to help sort out the situation late in the game.

Full time, with the game lost, Tyler Adams looked distraught and once again had some kind of debriefing with assistant head coach Rene Maric as the pair walked around the pitch cheering the fans. Marsch also circled Elland Road, trying to get the Kop up with the Leeds salute and blowing kisses of appreciation to those expressing support for his battered side.