Leeds 1 Arsenal 4
By Rui Pires
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Leeds were without Mark Viduka after he failed to recover from a back strain. Michael Bridges came in for his first start since December 2002.
Arsenal were once again missing Patrick Vieira and Martin Keown, so Ray Parlour was once again called upon to anchor the midfield alongside Gilberto Silva.
Leeds started brightly and created the first chance of the match. Lamine Sakho found space in the Arsenal area but his shot was well saved by Jens Lehmann.
As the half wore on Arsenal began to dominate. They showed their intent in the fifth minute when a Thierry Henry through ball almost found Freddie Ljungberg in a prime position on goal.
However, Henry made no mistake two minutes later. Ashley Cole's through ball let in the Frenchman, who beat Zoumana Camara for pace and slotted coolly past Paul Robinson.
Arsenal doubled their advantage on 16 minutes, with another goal on the counter attack. Ljungberg's slide rule pass ran past Gilberto but Pires was available to tuck the ball home at the far post.
Arsenal now began to boss the match, with Leeds visibly stunned after conceding the second goal.
A third soon followed on 32 minutes. Parlour passed to Dennis Bergkamp on the edge of the area. The Dutchman had time and space but saw his shot hit the post, Henry was on hand to put in the rebound.
Henry had another golden chance just before half time, collecting a Bergkamp pass but shooting over when a goal looked more likely.
Reid made a substitution at half time, replacing the pedestrian Bridges for the lively James Milner.
Arsenal, however, grabbed a fourth on 47 minutes after a Bergkamp free kick found Pires at the far post. The winger's cut back was touched on by Sol Campbell to Gilberto, who tucked the ball home at the far post.
Leeds had a chance to reduce the arrears, when a Salomon Olembe drive found Sakho, whose shot on the turn was well saved low down by Lehmann.
The home side did manage to pull a goal back from a rare attack after 60 minutes.
Substitute Aaron Lennon made an immediate impact, crossing the ball for Smith, whose delicate touch deceived Lehmann and found the back of the net.
Henry was denied his hat-trick on 73 minutes, when farcical Leeds defending allowed the Frenchman a shot on goal. However his goal-bound shot hit Parlour and bounced wide.
Substitute Edu should have done better ten minutes from time, but he failed to hit the target with a free header at the back post.
Olembe saw a dubious penalty claim turned down, as Leeds pressed for another goal to make the scoreline more respectable.
But it was the London side who went home with all three points, whilst the Leeds fans streamed away from Elland Road all too aware that their club have big problems.