Gunners lack Ammunition required to beat Blades at home in another frustrating draw
By Daniel Finton
Coming into this match, we all accepted it was going to be a difficult one for Arsenal. The Gunners, who sit at an underwhelming 10th place in the table, up against the flying Sheffield United, who are positioned 5th- it was always going to be a tricky task to beat one of the most intensely coached and organised sides in the league.
Arsenal were once again left frustrated and did not have what it took to scrape a win in the fixture. Despite finishing the first half with the lead, Arteta’s men showed once more how evident their poor game management is at this stage.
The first half was a cagey affair as one would predict. Chris Wilder set his side up with his typical back five in an attempt to nullify Arsenal’s potentially potent attack. Despite the defensive formation, the blades were all over the gunners in the opening 15 minutes. It was very obvious that Wilder’s workhorses were attacking with the intention of trying to expose the Gunner’s young fullbacks, Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Both of them were exposed a few times in the first half, although the display they showed on an attacking front was solid. Along with the 15-minute initial onslaught, the team looked rather disjointed at times. Passages of play were not coming off properly and players were flying into tackles and getting touches on the ball, but not coming away with it.
For the majority of the half, Arteta’s men struggled to dictate possession and despite them not making the most of a few attacks early on, the 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli managed to grab a goal right at the end of the half. The Brazilian got on the end of a deflected Saka cross, which saw the team finish a pretty uninspiring first half ahead at the break.
No changes were made at the break, with both sides coming out of their shells a bit and opening the game up. The first twenty minutes especially will have been massively captivating for the neutral based on its open nature. David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi left many supporters in doubt prior to the match, but both passed well out of the back on several occasions and defended adequately. Saka provided the team with a constant outlet on the left hand side, whilst Ozil’s influence on the game increased. Unfortunately, for the heavily scrutinized Arsenal defence, it was our offensive players who ultimately failed to provide on the day.
Alexandre Lacazette was withdrawn in the 73rd minute due to his inability to have any real effect on the game. The Frenchman had a free-kick in a dangerous position, that was impressively won by Lucas Torreira, fly harmlessly over the bar right before his removal. The now set to stay Eddie Nketiah replaced his captain and added a lease of energy for his first five minutes, but then descended to the same depths that Lacazette did of practically being anonymous.
John Fleck made the gunners pay for their inability to kill the game off, equalizing in the 83rd minute, securing a vital point away from home for Wilder’s men. The draw sees the blades drop to seventh and we remain tenth.
Arteta appears to have helped improve the defence but the attack remains slightly toothless and uninspiring.
Next up is another encounter with West London rivals Chelsea. Another difficult game in quick succssion, and another in which we must see a bit more offensively from our team.