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Arsenal vs Sheffield United (2-1) Match Review: Improvement continues under Arteta!
Coming into the game, Arsenal were looking vulnerable after their lousy performance against Liverpool but did they answered the critics well?
How did the teams set up?
Arsenal, for the first time, this season started with a back four. B. Leno started in goal with H. Bellerín Moruno and K. Tierney playing at right-back and left-back respectively. It was an all Brazilian partnership in the center of the defense as D. Moreira Marinho paired with G. dos Santos Magalhães in the backline. M. Elsayed Elneny and D. Ceballos Fernández started in the midfield, with the latter providing the creativity from deep.
B. Saka's role was eye-catching as the youngster was given license to roam and create space for himself. Once again, Saka ably proved his versatility. The front three consisted of W. Borges da Silva, E. Nketiah, and P. Aubameyang. M. Özil and M. Guendouzi Olié were not in the eighteen at all.
C. Wilder started with his well-known system of a 3-5-2. A. Ramsdale was in goal with the returning J. Egan in front, along with C. Basham and J. Robinson either side. The midfield had S. Berge in the middle with B. Osborn and J. Lundstram in advanced positions. E. Stevens and G. Baldock provided the width while D. McGoldrick and O. Burke partnered upfront.
Fixture details: Arsenal vs Sheffield United (04/10/2020)
Another impressive performance from the Gunners
It was another performance that demonstrated the hard work that is put in by the young manager. Once again, Arsenal showed good tactical flexibility and understanding on the pitch, much to the manager M. Arteta Amatriain's delight.
The first performance, however, was not up to the mark. Arsenal were struggling to get in behind Sheffield United's defense. Despite maintaining an enormous 73% possession, Arsenal were not penetrating United's backline effectively. There were lateral passes, backward passes, and progressiveness was widely missing. The manager needed a change in the second half.
In the second half, Arteta sent record signing N. Pépé on the pitch, replacing Nketiah. Three minutes later, the home side gained the lead through a goal from the outstanding Bukayo Saka. It was a lovely link-up play between Aubameyang and Bellerin, who delivered a good cross at the far post, and the 19-year-old was at the right place at the right time.
Three minutes later, substitute Pepe scored the second goal with extreme individual brilliance. An excellent link-up play with Bellerin was followed by a decisive run down the right-wing and was finished sublimely.
Arsenal's efficiency in the second half won the game for them as they had 2 shots throughout the half, and both of them struck the net. Arsenal also recorded an improved 90% of passing accuracy after the break.
Overall, it was another impressive performance under Arteta, and a clean sheet was the ultimate compliment. Exciting times for the fans as a top-four finish increasingly possible under this young man with bright ideas.
What has happened to the Blades?
After last season's outrageous heroics, Chris Wilder's men look a shadow of themselves this season. The Blades have now lost their opening four games and are looking unlikely to repeat last season's high standards.
They were ineffective throughout the game at the Emirates and looked passive. The first half performance was pathetic as they recorded only 1 shot in the whole half. They were struggling to play vertically and were putting in hopeful crosses without any conviction. The Blades ended the first half with 27% possession to their name.
However, in the second half, after the two goals from Arsenal, Sheffield United ended the game strongly and got one back through David McGoldrick. They registered 5 shots, with 2 of them on target in the latter half. Wilder's men also completed 7/9 dribbles and had 3 corners in the second half.
Improvement was seen in the second half, but it was too little too late. With four losses already to their name, Wilder has to find a way to get them going. A relegation scrap is unexpected but could be the case if the recent form does not improve.