Leeds were handed a defeat in the Premier League last night at the hands of a merciless Arsenal side. The struggling Gunners were 3-0 up before half-time even struck, thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace and a strike from Hector Bellerin.
Aubameyang struck again in the second half, just two minutes after the restart but Leeds shifted up a gear in a desperate attempt to claw something back.
Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa found the back of the net but it was only enough to half the deficit. It was an overall disappointing performance from this Leeds side, with Illan Meslier receiving the brunt of the stick for letting four goals past him and conceding a spot-kick. One man who also heavily let the side down was Ezgjan Alioski.
Sofascore gave him a match rating of 5.9 which was the worst of any outfield player on the night, and when you look at some of his underlying numbers, it’s easy to see why. He made just 23 passes at an accuracy of 70% (only Klich fared worse), and was much lower than his 55 passes and 81% accuracy against Crystal Palace in the match prior.
He also failed to register a single block, interception or clearance and made just the one tackle, which isn’t good enough for a defender and significantly lower than his season average.
This campaign, Alioski has averaged two tackles per match in the Premier League, while he also has come up with 0.7 interceptions and one clearance per match too.
And that’s not all. As a full-back, the revolutionised role sees them contribute heavily to the attack as well as the defence. Alioski contributed two key passes and completed 100% of his crosses in the 2-0 win over Palace, but in his performance against Arsenal, he failed to put in a single cross and managed just one key pass.
Leeds have now slipped into 11th place after Arsenal leapfrog them and go two points ahead. For Alioski, his position at the club hangs in the balance. Talks have swirled around a potential exit for the £55,000 per week left-back as he finds himself linked to Galatasaray on a permanent contract.
Poor performances will only further nudge the North Macedonian out the door and force Marcelo Bielsa to bench him in favour of other personnel.
One of the big talking points ahead of the game was about Alioski coming up against Nicolas Pepe following the Ivorian’s sending off in the reverse clash at Elland Road earlier in the season, with Patrick Bamford openly revealing his teammate was looking forward to Sunday’s game.
Pepe of course didn’t come on, but Alioski’s awful performance will certainly not have made Bielsa happy. Bukayo Saka ran rings around him with his pace and movement, making seven dribbles and winning five fouls, both of which were game-highs.
Leeds’ full-back struggled to cope, and it was no surprise that Saka won his side a penalty (that was overturned by VAR) with a darting run infield that Liam Cooper had to come across to deal with because Alioski didn’t.
Meslier may take the headlines for his gaffe in the build-up to Arsenal’s legitimate spot-kick, but Alioski hardly covered himself in glory either, and Bielsa will be surely disappointed with him.