Well that was a hard-fought victory but those three points are vital at this stage of the season, especially with the second hardest away game to come straight after the international break. The first half was uneventful but we also gave hardly anything away and were disciplined. The second half saw us press higher and put more players in and around the box, and it did not take long to reap the benefits of this. Two brilliant team goals in three minutes, based around incisive passing and clever movement as well as precise finishing, were enough to take all three points.
Sheffield United have made a poor start but they know what they are capable of and are just waiting for form to return. They gave us a hard game and hoped for a goal on the break or, more likely, from a set-piece. The Blades are physical and well-drilled site and we needed to be professional to get all the points.
This was a testing week for Arsenal and the boys did us proud in all three games. Under Emery we created a lot and we leaked a lot chances; under Arteta Phase One we create less but leak a lot less too, and we are efficient when it comes to taking our chances. It does not take an Einstein to realise that Arteta is working towards Arteta Phase Two, but this will take time. Before you put in the jacuzzi and new furniture make sure you fix the roof. So every game will be a fight for three points, not always easy on the eye but there will be gems to enjoy nevertheless!
Leno: 7 – did his job well enough against a tall and physical opponent during set-pieces. I like the way he sweeps up behind the defence now.
Tierney: 7 – solid, driven, present. Just belongs at Arsenal.
Luiz: 6 – struggled a bit to keep his composure – he was quite lucky not to be sent off – and discipline in defence today but his buddies helped him out.
Gabriel: 8 – pffff, what a beast of a player we have here. Great presence and intelligence and good positional awareness and passing out from the back.
Bellerin: 8.5 MOTM – loved the way he tried to go past defenders in the first half. Yes it was not hard to read what he tried to do and he was not successful at first, but boy did he produce a peach of an assist for our first goal. He also has the assist for our second goal and Arteta will be well pleased with Hector’s ‘bread and butter’ contributions.
Elneny: 7 – just solid and tidy, salt of the earth performance. But he was also involved in our first goal with probably the key pass in the whole move.
Ceballos: 8 – I liked his discipline and desire to make things happen in this game. He got the balance right this time, especially in the second half.
Saka: 8.5 – MOTM – Never stopped trying to find moments of quality whilst also keeping it tidy all over the left wing. I am just so amazed how this 19 year old survived so well amongst the ‘brutes’ of Sheffield United. An extra point for taking his chance so well, beating both the keeper and a player at the first post with a dart of a header. Bullseye.
Willian: 6.5 – He seems a bit lost in this Arsenal team at times but I still liked his allround game and willingness to get stuck in. Moving him to the left and putting Pepe on the right in the second half seemed to free him up to make good triangles with fellow attackers. I am sure there is more to come from him, though.
Auba: 7 – Less involved in the bread and butter stuff at the moment (goals and assists) but his presence and willingness to work still made a big difference. Could have had an assist if Eddie’s first touch would have been better.
Nketiah: 6 – Not his best game but worked hard. Not sure why Arteta picked Eddie ahead of Laca after doing the same at Anfield on Thursday. I guess we know more about this come 2300h tomorrow…
Pepe: 8 – what a cameo – an extra point for that worldy of a goal.
Xhaka and AMN – not long enough on the pitch to score.