Arsenal were unable to secure their second Premier League win under Mikel Arteta as they drew 1-1 with Sheffield United at the Emirates.
The Gunners took the lead on the stroke of half-time courtesy of a Gabriel Martinelli tap-in, only for a late John Fleck strike to stun the home fans in North London.
Patience was key for the Gunners in the sort of professional display that saw them avoid too many silly mistakes at the back and impose themselves physically in the middle of the park. Even as the visitors built their way back into the game, Arsenal were a constant threat on the counter, which felt like an intentional way of playing against a dangerous Sheffield United side.
At times the Gunners showed Sheffield United too much respect and they should have cut them off at the source. They didn’t put their foot on the pedal, which indicates a lack of confidence, and the home fans will be hoping they don’t see this sort of trepidation too many more times at the Emirates this season. Once again, a draw is the result from a winning position.
7 – The old chant of “1-0 to the Arsenal” seemed like it was the core focus for Arteta with both his team selection, which was daring and different, and the way they played. Arsenal didn’t rush into any silly decisions; they switched the ball from side to side and through the middle, as opposed to sticking to the same game plan. Still, a distinct lack of focus for the entire 90 minutes seems to be harming them, as evidenced by the equaliser.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 — While there wasn’t too much he could do for the equaliser, Arsenal’s No. 1 needs to start dealing with set pieces better, and his positioning needs a lot of work.
DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 5 – Was lucky he didn’t assist a goal for the opposition after giving the ball away in the eighth minute. A poor showing and his attacking prowess was called into question alongside his decision-making for Sheffield United’s equaliser.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 6 – Playing out from the back doesn’t fit into how Mustafi likes to play, although he looked more composed in the second half than he has done in a long time.
DF David Luiz, 5 – Aside from knocking it back and forth between his fellow defenders, Luiz looks devoid of ideas in comparison to the confidence he showed during his Chelsea days.
DF Bukayo Saka, 7 – Carried the game at times for Arsenal with a strong defensive presence to go alongside a tremendous assist for the opening goal.
MF Lucas Torreira, 7 – It was an excellent showing for the midfield maestro, who continues to get back to his best with great vision, timing and passing throughout.
MF Granit Xhaka, 7 – The controversial midfielder put in a controlled shift for Arsenal and seems to be maturing with each game under the guidance of Arteta.
FW Nicolas Pepe, 6 – Pepe always looks slick on the ball, but when there’s no end product behind that, as was the case today, Arsenal will keep questioning his £72m price tag.
AM Mesut Ozil, 5 – The German has a habit of going missing in the big games, and that was precisely what happened here. At times, he just didn’t look interested.
FW Gabriel Martinelli, 7 – The young poacher poked home Arsenal’s only goal of the day, but Martinelli needs to be given more service from those around him.
ST Alexandre Lacazette, 6 – Sheffield United really got after the forward, and while he did play in a great pass to start off the move for Arsenal’s goal, he needs to show more grit up top in the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
FW Eddie Nketiah, N/A — Looked lost and lazy during his brief cameo after replacing Lacazette.