Sheffield United 0 – 3 Arsenal
Well that was a lot more fun to watch and the boys did us proud.
Eight initial observations from a much needed win:
- Arteta surprised us all by leaving both fit full backs on the bench and playing Chambers and Xhaka instead. Both did very well and added a lot of physicality to our defence. With Partey in front of them our defence looked solid all game long. Xhaka had quite a fluid role and as always gave structure to our play with some fine passes and good positioning, even when played in an unfamiliar position.
- Ceballos played in a sort of ‘ESR role’ and this suits him much better. Whilst a liability on the ball in front of our defence, played behind and around our attackers the Spaniard is much more effective. His assist for Laca’s opener was perfect and he played well between the lines all game long.
- Saka, Laca, Pepe and Martinelli were a four-legged mobile monster that made life impossible for the blades: so much movement and clever passing from all of them. All wanted to play football tonight and once the selfishness of a few had been shaken off the team started to purr, resulting in that fabulous first team goal, finished by Laca. It was obvious that Partey loved playing in this formation and with these sort of players: movement, movement, movement is everything.
- Martinelli had a great first game which he crowned with a well deserved goal. It was good to see him back and enjoy himself on the pitch with the other lads. Saka clearly loves to play with him and the young Brazilian is actually a similar type to Laca in terms of attacking style. Pepe is the least comfortable with the ball in tight spaces of all our attackers but he made the all important second goal. He often frustrates me but the longer Pepe is on the pitch the better he gets, as long as there are plenty of good passers and movers around him.
- There were some top highlights in this game. I already mentioned the quality first goal involving a number of Arsenal players, and then there was Partey’s slick move in midfield in which in a fraction of a second he switched himself from facing our goal to facing the Blades’ one and then picking the pass of the night for Laca. The ball was so good that Laca could just pick his corner and whip it in brilliantly for our third goal. What a goal!
- Mari and Holding had not much to do in defence but what they had to do they did with coolness. Mari especially put some nice balls over the top, and both tried to join the attack whenever they could. Chambers managed to get to the byline a few times and whipped a couple of fine crosses into the box, and we could all see he was enjoying himself.
- Laca was of course the MOTM with his two fine goals and general attacking play – that is 50 PL goals for him now! But Saka, The Silk, also played very well in his free role behind the attackers. They both added an extra quality and dimension to our football tonight, and we have to hope that Bukayo is available again on Thursday.
- I know that SU are not a good team and that we should have won this game possibly with even more goals, but let’s be honest: how many of us had expected such a strong, confident and fun performance tonight? Arteta mixed it up a bit whilst resting the likes of Bellerin, Soares, Big Gab, Ode, ESR and Auba. With the good, confident performances tonight, Arteta will feel he has a wider squad to pick his first eleven from for the Slavia Prague game on Thursday. So a very successful evening all round.