Arsenal edged past Sheffield United to move up to fourth in the Premier League. Goals to Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe secured a 2-1 win at the Emirates before the international break.
The first half was pedestrian to say the least as the Gunners failed to really get any flow and creativity going. Despite owning possession in which it was up to 75% at one point, there was not many clear cut changes, with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang going closest with a long range strike that was pushed over the bar midway through the first half.
If the first half taught us anything, it is Arsenal desperately need a creative midfielder. Having seemingly lost the battle to sign Houssem Aouar and with Thomas Partey’s deal now in jeopardy too, many fans are demanding to know what is going on.
Arsenal controlled the game for the best part of 80 minutes with Sheffield barely having a sight at goal. The Gunners were composed on the ball as they switched it from side to side in search of a breakthrough, but it did not come. The lack creativity was clearly obvious as the first half was difficult to watch and it had all the makings of a dour 0-0 score line.
After the break however, Arsenal were a different beast. Especially with substitute Nicolas Pepe coming on for Eddie Nketiah as that changed the game completely. I feel that this is possibly the way Arsenal should play, Aubameyang up top, Pepe out wide and then have Willian and Bukayo Saka interchanging from the number 10 role to out wide as they were nearly unplayable at times. The game burst into life in the 61st minute when some neat build up play found Hector Bellerin who dinked a ball to the back post where Saka was waiting and he coolly heading the Gunners into the lead.
Three minutes later Arsenal doubled their lead when Hector Bellerin played a neat one-two with Nicolas Pepe as he burst into the penalty area and calmly slotted home into the far corner to put Arsenal 2-0 and they were cruising.
After the second goal Arsenal were in cruise control, moving the ball around the park with ease and barely working up a sweat. It all changed in the 84th minute when David McGoldrick’s left footed curling shot nestled itself inside Bernd Leno’s goal to make it 2-1 with 6 minutes to go. Arsenal steadied the ship to run out 2-1 winners and climb to fourth in the Premier League table. Defender Gabriel was another standout for me, he was cool and composed on the ball and was physical in the challenge and looks to be Arsenal’s best signing by a country mile so far as he has made a great start to life in England.
With the other results around the league stunning the football world, most notably the 6-1 drubbing Tottenham gave Manchester United and Aston Villa’s 7-2 demolition of champions Liverpool, attention will now turn to the transfer deadline and many Arsenal fans are demanding signings.
Missing out on Houssem Aouar was a huge blow as he was the creative midfielder Arsenal craved. There is still hope that they will clinch the signing of Thomas Partey but he is not the creative force that the Gunners need, so no doubt they will look at alternatives but that is not likely to ease the Gunners fans frustrations.
Deadline day will be a busy one for many clubs as they look to strengthen their squads, but none more than Arsenal as they need reinforcements. Getting players off the books is paramount as well as signing new talent. Just who will come in and who will be sold remains to be seen but this will be the busiest and most crucial deadline day Arsenal has had in a long time. Mikel Arteta and Edu cannot afford to mess it up.