Arsenal once again failed to pick up maximum points, as a late equalizer from John Fleck saw Sheffield United go back home with a share of the points.
A home game should always be taken advantage of but this is now one win in the last five matches for new boss Mikel Arteta – showing that there is plenty of work to do.
There are positives too, but we certainly missed the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – although his replacement Gabriel Martinelli did his best to help ease the pain of his absence.
The young Brazilian was once again a real bright spot for the Gunners, and his goal was extremely well taken, showing great positioning, touch and composure from someone so young.
Arteta made another change to his side for kickoff, with Sokratis missing out through illness, so the much-maligned Shkodran Mustafi came into the side in his stead. That aside, our side was unchanged, and we started well. We were dominating the ball, which is exactly what Arteta wants his side to do.
Pepe tested Henderson early on after good work by Ozil but thereafter, we stood up well to some early Blades pressure, Mustafi and Luiz coping stoutly.
Then Martinelli had a half chance after Laca fed Pepe. The Ivorian’s cross found the young striker, who hit a volley that slid inches wide. Then Pepe showed his skill by leaving a string od defenders in his wake, feeding Martinelli who blasted into the side-netting.
After that flurry of chances, it was sustained possession but little penetration, although that may well be down partly to some good, rigid defending from the away team that repelled us.
It was looking like we would go in with a stalemate, until Saka fed Martinelli to steal in and volley home from close range.
We had just about edged the first half, but Sheffield United were far from finished.
They came out much like the first half, and McBurnie’s header had to be cleared off the line by Xhaka, but we soon got back into the groove, decent passing but still, no piercing of the Blades backline. Still, we should have had a penalty, when Pepe was brought to ground, but Var checked and declared no penalty…
It was to cost us too, as John Fleck was found deep and his effort deflected badly off of Maitland-Niles and over Leno.
We created nothing else and neither did the away side, the game crept forward until Mike Dean blew for full time and we had again failed to take the points.
What did we learn from this game?
Martinelli Good Enough To Start
With Auba out, that meant the man who had scored nearly half of all of our goals this season would be missing. Big shoes to fill for young Martinelli, but his running, drive, hunger and skill are bountiful. Refreshing football from the youngster.
Defence Firmed Up
Under Emery, we were porous, looking likely to concede with every attack we faced, but under Arteta - we are holding firm. Considering we are playing two young wingers at full-back and our central defence was changed yet again, we did very well.
Mustafi had a great game!
The German is depicted as a poor excuse for a footballer, but his clearance, block and tackle stats are strong. If it weren’t for the odd decision-making faux pas, then he would have been in the side far before this game. Still, he was pretty solid today.
Laca Needs a Goal
Remember last season when Auba gave Laca a goal to end a goal drought? The Frenchman could do with that again. He is holding up well but he isn’t the all-action player we are used to. He is bereft of confidence right now, he needs a goal.
We have a swift chance to get a win again as we take on Chelsea on Tuesday.
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