Arteta ‘disappointed’ after Arsenal held by Sheffield United
One win in five league attempts for new Gunners head coach after battling Blades earn 1-1 draw
19 January, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson at the Emirates Stadium
ARSENAL 1 (Martinelli 45)
SHEFFIELD UNITED 1 (Fleck 83)
ARSENAL manager Mikel Arteta said he was “very disappointed” as a late Sheffield United goal left him with just one win in five Premier League games.
The Gunners’ back line looked nervous throughout this encounter at the Emirates Stadium despite a decent display from makeshift left back Bukayo Saka.
Arteta was forced into three changes from the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace by injuries and suspensions. Saka, Ainsley Maitland Niles and Gabriel Martinelli came in for the Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who started a three-game ban.
Martinelli looked the most likely Arsenal player to score, and took his chance on the stroke of half time to put the hosts 1-0 up with a simple tab in after some fine build up play between Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Saka.
Though keeper Bernd Leno wasn’t tested, the Blades looked threatening throughout, and played with their standard organisation.
The visitors’ tenacity was rewarded with a late goal in the 83rd minute, with tireless midfielder John Fleck volleying the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle
Speaking after the game, Arteta said his team needed to start putting games to bed. “I’m very disappointed today,” he said. “I think we lost two points
“In the Premier League we go 1-0 up, then in the last 10 or 15 minutes we have to be careful because anything can happen.”
He added: “It was one long ball, a second ball, then someone put a volley from an incredible angle and put it in the top bin. It’s hard to control.”
Praising Martellini’s performance, Arteta said: “With all the enthusiasm he has, he’s so brave, and makes the decision every time. The way he went about every single action is very impressive.”
Arteta also reserved special praise for winger Saka, who has had to step in at left back due to injuries. When asked if the 18-year-old could have a future as a left back, Arteta said: “I think Bukayo could because he’s willing to learn it.
“He’s applying himself big time. He’s never played there before and he’s trying everything possible.”
Neither team looked able to settle over the 90 minutes, with stray passes rife from both sides.
Arsenal only managed one shot on target in a second half that saw half chances for both teams, and a strong penalty shout for the Gunners turned down.
Lacazette held the ball up brilliantly and splayed it out wide to Nicolas Pepe on the right. The winger surged into the box, and looked to have been brought down, but referee Mike Dean played on, and VAR backed him up with a no foul decision.
Asked about the decision after the game, Arteta said “It was a clear” penalty, adding he had not spoken to the referee about it.
Lacazette was replaced by Eddie Nketiah in the 74th minute, and applauded the fans as he jogged off the pitch to loud cheers.
Young striker Nketiah, who recently returned from a disappointing loan spell at Leeds, was greeted with a huge roar, but was unable to make any impact on the pitch.
“I was very impress with Eddie and everything I’ve seen in training I really liked,” said Arteta after the game.
“I think he’s grown a lot. He was ready to make an impact, and with all his energy, the team was lacking that, I decided to play him.”
But a second goal ultimately proved too much for either team, with Arsenal having to settle for another draw, leaving them with just one win in five under Arteta.
Sheffield United fans celebrated the long journey back to Yorkshire after the club’s third draw in the capital left them in 7th place in the Premier League table on 33 points.
Manager Chris Wilder said he didn’t think his team were at their best, despite taking a point. “The result was better than the performance,” he said. “When teams don’t put you to bed, we have an opportunity to get something from the game.”
Arsenal, meanwhile, are languishing in 10th on 29 points. On this display, their league position looks about right, and new head coach Arteta still has plenty of work ahead of him.
ARSENAL: Leno, Luiz, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Saka, Xhaka, Torreira, Pepe, Martinelli, Ozil, Lacazette (Nketiah, 74).
Substitutes not used: Bellerin, Ceballos, Holding, Martinez, Willock, Guendozi
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Henderson, Basham (Besicc, 76), Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram (Robinson, 67), Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, McBurnie, Mousset (Sharp, 56).
Substitutes not used: Jagielka, Freeman, Verrips, Osborn