Sheffield United vs. Arsenal: Five things we learned
- Credit: PA
Here are the five things we learned in Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Premier League strugglers Sheffield United.
1. Gabriel Martinelli takes his opportunity
The young Brazilian has been plagued by injuries this season but has delivered some impressive cameos from the bench since his comeback. From the off, his energetic display added the missing zest to an Arsenal attack that threatened to look bland without the inclusion of a recognised number 10. Notching his first Premier League goal since January 2020 may give Martinelli the required confidence to becoming a driving force for Arsenal in the closing weeks of the campaign.
2. Alexandre Lacazette finds his goal-scoring touch.
After missing a gilt-edged one-on-one against Slavia Prague on Thursday, the Frenchman knew he had to atone. Against Sheffield United, he looked hungry for goals and seemed determined to prove that a sub-par showing in midweek was just a blip. The impressiveness of Martinelli, Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe has put the place of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into jeopardy. With a season-defining contest in Prague on Thursday, it will be intriguing to see what combination Mikel Arteta opts for with so much at stake.
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3. Granit Xhaka at left-back
After Cedric’s deployment on the left-hand side against Slavia did more harm than good to the Gunners’ attacking transitions, having a natural left footer restored a sense of balance. Now that Kieran Tierney is likely to be out for the remainder of the campaign, Xhaka has big boots to fill should he be required to deputise out of position.
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4. A clean sheet
Although it came against a Blades side rooted to the foot of the table, the clean sheet will provide welcome relief to a team that had conceded a goal in every match since the end of January. Getting that monkey off their backs may be the tonic that Arteta’s defence needed to start becoming a sound, solid and dependable unit once again.
5. Injuries are no excuse
Demonstrating control and concision with Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, David Luiz and Tierney is proof that Arteta has enough talent at his disposal to get this team consistent again, whoever plays. The sight of Bukayo Saka limping off is not one Arsenal fans wanted to see, yet they still scored in his absence to demonstrate that goals can come without the England starlet at the fore.