Sheffield United 0-3 Arsenal – Lacazette at the double & a Martinelli goal as Gunners are too sharp for Blades

Arsenal go to Bramall Lane in the hope to gain some momentum to finish a very poor season.

The hosts Sheffield United are firmly at 20th and would need more than a miracle to stay up.

The game in retrospect is fairly meaningless, but it is important the Gunners have a good end to the season – for the future and belief for their EL run.

The Blades are winless in all 3 games since sacking Wilder.

The Gunners are winless in 4 and have struggled to get true winning rhythm.

Sheffield United’s despair has been largely down to their lack of scoring and availability of CBs, predictability.

The Blades have hardly had their first choice CBs fit. They were so successful last year due to overlapping CBs, but a lack of personal has made this ineffective.

Moreover, this system is predictable and is no longer a surprise to many, making it far easier to stop.

The Blades have always struggled scoring goals, so without their defensive discipline and crowd boost they’re even worse off.

As for the Gunners, they’ve been incredibly dependent on certain personnel.

Arteta has made a few errors tactically as part of his development, which has also cost the Gunners.

A lack of discipline and creative presence has also been an issue, which led to some poor results.

Injuries haven’t helped either – highlighting the need of depth desperately.

A good end to the season is important for the club’s future.

Team News:

Sheffield United play their standard 532, with Lundstram who may leave, Fleck & Norwood.

McGoldrick, who is very effective vs the traditional big 6 sides including a goal in the reverse fixture, starts.

The Gunners appear to transition to a 433, with a much-changed line-up.

Ceballos occupies the creative role for the absent Smith Rowe & Ødegaard.

Martinelli gets his first start since Chelsea at home, Pepe starts again while Aubameyang is out with flu.

Gabriel drops out for Mari and Chambers comes in at RB, with Saka filling in the makeshift LB role as he did so well previously.

Kick-off:

It appears Saka is playing in that creative role and Xhaka is filling in at LB. Very interesting.

A lively start to the game, as Pepe plays in Saka who’s cross gets intercepted and Mcgoldrick got a clean strike at goal, but narrowly missed.

The Gunners have been very dominant in the first 30 minutes, unlucky not to be 1 up with sustained pressure. Just the final action lacking.

Sheffield United have set up playing out from the back and pressing high. Bold, which has brought a few good moments but hasn’t been effective enough.

Soon after the 30-minute mark, the Gunners take the lead.

Vintage Arsenal with 1 touch football as Ceballos flicks brilliantly to Lacazette who finishes excellently.

Pleasing scenes.

The gunners have had other chances to multiple their lead. Martinelli particularly bright, having 2 goal bound shots blocked.

Chambers had an effort blocked off the line as well, from Martinelli’s cross.

A positive half from the Gunners, where Saka has added another position to his armoury – the 10.

He has run the game, linked up play so well and has been superb.

Lacazette & Ceballos have been brilliant, Partey good, Pepe a bit off it and Martinelli lively.

The Gunners have won all games going 1 up at HT, so you would expect them to get the job done convincingly.

A similar start to the 2nd half, where Sheffield United get a few half chances but nothing concrete.

Arsenal continued their dominance, with Saka, Pepe, Lacazette connecting play brilliantly.

Delightful signs for Arsenal fans as Gabriel Martinelli get his first goal of the season!

Pepe drives into space, forces a save from Ramsdale who can only parry it for Martinelli to score.

Some brilliant play from Partey followed and a top-quality ball for Lacazette to score and get his 2nd of the game.

Job well done for Arsenal where it could’ve been more – and the result was never in doubt. A first clean sheet in 13.

The only worries for Arsenal are Saka, who appeared to have a muscle injury and got subbed because of it.

Martinelli also went down but stayed on and got a well-earned goal.

A really pleasing performance where all paid a fair shift, a big confidence booster to finish the season on a high and more confidence for the 2nd legged tie-on Thursday.

Man of the match:

This award could go to basically anyone for the Gunners.

Saka, Martinelli, Ceballos, Lacazette, Xhaka, Partey, Chambers are the main contenders.

Saka added another position to his repertoire. The guy’s skill set is truly endless.

His movement, passing, decision making, and linkup was top class, and the freedom he had really suited him.

Top quality, hopefully his injury isn’t serious.

Gabriel Martinelli, what a performance.

The Brazilian looked like a regular, getting a well-deserved goal, pressing brilliantly, making great runs, and looking deadly.

The fans endless want for Martinelli to start won’t finish there, as fans will only want to see him feature more, as deservedly so.

Ceballos has been far below what is expected of him but looked a different player today.

Confident, technical, very tidy on the ball and played well.

Lacazette was brilliant and was MOTM for me.

It felt like he played like he owed the club something after his poor showing midweek. 13 goals for the season, 7th highest in the league.

A well-rounded performance generally, looking confident, happy to drop deep and link up play really well.

Versatile Xhaka proved his advanced skill set – filling in at LB.

The Swiss controlled play brilliantly, gave more options in transition, got 9/10 long balls which shows his diversity.

A key asset to Arsenal, who is often far too under appreciated.

Thomas Partey has had a torrid time with injuries, but really showed his qualities today.

He was dominant, powerful, progressive and everything expected of him – including a brilliant assist.

Chambers covered for Holding & Mari’s lack of mobility really well.

A very useful player who once again showed his worth.

Manager rating:

8.

A unique line-up and system which caused a conversation, but in the end was very effective.

Winning against Sheffield United was always expected of the Gunners, but Arteta tactically and with the line-up got it right.

I would’ve liked to see Azeez make his debut and Nelson get a chance but a 3-0 win with a clean sheet away, can’t ask for much more.

Arteta playing Saka in the 10-role made sense and was very effective – as he has a very wide skill set.

Mari & Holding together also seem to be reliable, so until Luiz is back or Saliba can partner Gabriel, this partnership should be consistent.

Overall, a great job and a good confidence booster going into Thursday.

Player Ratings:

Leno – 6

Chambers – 7.5

Mari – 6.5

Holding – 7

Xhaka – 8

Partey – 7.5

Ceballos – 8

Martinelli – 7.5

Saka – 8.5

Pepe – 7

Lacazette – 8.5 (MOTM)

 

Subs:

Elneny – N/A

Willian – 6

Nketiah – N/A.

 

What next for Arsenal? 

A crucial 2nd legged tie awaits, where Arsenal go to Slavia with a 1-1 score line, in their last hope of European football.

The game can be found on BT Sports at 8pm on Thursday.

Score prediction: Slavia 1-3 Arsenal.

Thanks for reading as always!