Soccer

Arsenal player ratings vs. Sheffield United: Lacazette, Martinelli fire Gunners back to winning ways

Arsenal secured their first win in five games as goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli earned them a 3-0 win at Sheffield United on Sunday. Lacazette’s sidefoot finish off a Dani Ceballos backheel fired Arsenal to a one-goal lead in a first half where the Gunners looked at ease despite a string of injuries and fitness issues for senior players such as Martin Odegaard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kieran Tierney. 

Sheffield United looked every inch the Championship team they will soon be before the interval though they did manage a flurry of pressure on their opponent’s goal early in the second period.

Arsenal weathered that storm and their dominance was rewarded in the 71st minute when the excellent Martinelli tapped home the rebound from Nicolas Pepe’s shot, his first goal in 15 injury-plagued months. A fine through ball from Thomas Partey released Lacazette in behind as he netted his 50th Premier League goal for the club, in the process securing three points that send the Gunners back into the top half of the Premier League. Here is how the Gunners’ players rated:

Arsenal ratings

Bernd Leno — Goalkeeper

A few punches and a neat save from John Egan either side of the halftime whistle were the sum of Leno’s involvement in this game, a pleasingly relaxing mach for a goalkeeper who has been rather busy of late. Rating: 6

Calum Chambers — Defender

He certainly hits a ball quite excellently, a heretoforth unknown facet Chambers could bring to right-back. It is worth reflecting that Sheffield United were hardly the sort of opponent to punish any indiscipline high up the pitch, though in the 52nd minute he made a smart tackle on a counterattacking Oliver Burke. Rating: 6

Rob Holding — Defender

He is hardly the most elegant in possession and on occasion he was guilty of pumping the ball long when more considered buildup play was required. Still without the ball he was effective at sweeping up rare moments of pressure that came from the home team. Rating: 6

Pablo Mari — Defender

A slightly mad moment in the 60th minute where he attempted to block off the run of a Sheffield United forward only to allow him to run beyond him, requiring Leno’s tidying up, but that aside Mari was his customarily solid self in possession. Rating: 6

Granit Xhaka — Defender

Look we’ve said defender here but what position he was playing was far from clear on occasions, at any moment he could be a third centr-back, an anchorman in midfield or even a left wing-back, though it was the former of those roles that he occupied most often in Arsenal’s build-up play. That he fulfilled that role so effectively speaks to his customary reliability, though he faced little pressure from a wingless Blades attack. Rating: 6 

Where Arsenal’s passes went against Sheffield United
TruMedia

Thomas Partey — Midfielder

At times this game he was operating as a one-man midfield and he did so rather impressively. He was not as progressive and dynamic as he can be with Xhaka alongside him and his passing was rather more wild than one might have expected from a player in his spot, at least until a fine through ball in the 86th minute released Lacazette to score his second. Rating: 6

Dani Ceballos — Midfielder

This season has largely been a struggle for Ceballos, whose ambition all too often exceeds his reliability. Not today however, where the Spaniard was an impudent genius who seemed determined to unleash a full repertoire of backheels, the best of which teed Lacazette up for the game’s opener. He faded somewhat in an attacking sense during the second half but did well snuffing out attacks before they could reach dangerous areas. Rating: 7

Nicolas Pepe — Winger

Combined impressively with Bukayo Saka on occasion and you could not question his willingness to drive at opponents. The issue was that too often his touch was rather too heavy as he sent himself down blind alleys or in the direction of multiple defenders. He only needed to get it right once though, which he did when a low shot was parried into Martinelli’s path. Rating: 7

Bukayo Saka — Attacking midfielder

Saka has found yet another position where he looks more than capable of doing a job, this time starting as Arsenal’s number 10 but regularly drifting wide to the right to team up with Pepe. He completed all 13 of his attacking third passes in the first half but was never guilty of slowing the Gunners down. When he plays well, Arsenal do too. His injury could yet be a major challenge for Mikel Arteta to navigate. Rating: 7 

Gabriel Martinelli — Winger (⚽ 71′)

An undiluted punch of energy to an Arsenal side that are on occasion guilty of taking things a bit too slowly. Even with a relatively minimal number of touches he managed to work himself into positions to shoot or create chances for others and it was no surprise that he was on hand to tap in the rebound from Pepe’s shot.

Arteta has been insistent that Martinelli is not the finished article but today the youngster proved he deserves more playing time than he has got. Rating: 8

Alexandre Lacazette — Striker (⚽ 33′, 85′)

Two wonderfully taken goals were no less than Lacazette deserved for a curious but largely impressive display, one where his tendency to drop deep could aid immeasurably in Arsenal’s build-up but equally might lead to his teammates having no-one to aim at in the box. Late on he showed what he can do running in behind, taking Partey’s pass in his stride and rifling a shot into the bottom corner. Rating: 8

Willian — Midfielder (sub, Saka, 69′) 

A quiet evening from the Brazilian bar one free-kick that he could not test Aaron Ramsdale with. Rating: 5

Mikel Arteta — Manager

With several key players sidelined and little to play for in the Premier League, Arteta opted to try new things… and few opponents could be more accommodating than the Blades. His side seemed to relish their new roles and romped to a comfortable victory, though he will be wondering whether he ought to have held Saka in reserve for Thursday night’s Europa League quarterfinal second leg against Slavia Prague. Rating: 7



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