Arsenal jumped back into the top-half of the Premier League table with a calm and comfortable 3-0 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday.
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Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli scored either side of halftime to hand Mikel Arteta’s side a sorely needed Premier League victory. Having won just three of their preview 10 PL fixtures (3W-3D-4L), the Gunners slipped to 11th after Leeds shocked Manchester City on Saturday. Thanks to Sunday’s victory over the relegation-bound Blades, Arsenal are back up to 9th.
2 things we learned: Sheffield United – Arsenal
1. Arsenal comfortable in Aubameyang’s absence: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unavailable this weekend due to having the flu, but Arsenal looked virtually the same side they’ve been all season with him, without him. That is to say: rigid in their midfield setup, comfortable on the ball but rarely crafty in the final third, and making the most of their low volume of scoring chances. As the game got stretched following the second goal. Lacazette was a constant threat to run in behind, which ultimately resulted in goal no. 3. Just as the script reads.
2. Foundation to build on at Arsenal: It’s been said a few times this season — the next generation of homegrown talent is ready to take the next step for Arsenal. That point remains entirely true, but Sunday revealed the Gunners to be a more cohesive team than at perhaps any other point this season. Wide players made the extra, but necessary, run to open up space for someone else; central players made the difficult rotations back into defensive positions to fill vacated space. Senior players — some of whom might have previously been written off as soon to depart — were excellent with their work rate and tenacity, indicating that Arteta might finally be reaching them.
Arsenal’s breakthrough came just after the half-hour mark, and it was the best piece of football either side managed to create in the first half. Lacazette put the finish past Aaron Ramsdale, but it was Dani Ceballos’ cheeky backheel flick which sent Lacazette in on goal in fantastic style.
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Martinelli got goal no. 2, and it couldn’t have come much easier for the Brazilian. Ramsdale made the save to deny Nicolas Pepe’s initial shot, but the rebound bounced straight across the face of goal and fell to the on-rushing Martinelli with an empty net in sight.
Lacazette’s second goal, and Arsenal’s third, was made far easier than it should have been by the defense, but the finish was powerful and pinpoint all the same. Edge of the penalty area, plenty of time to pick his spot, and a 50th Premier League goal for the Frenchman.