Five talking points as Lacazette stars in comfortable Arsenal win

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Arsenal bounced back from a difficult week by seeing off Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane.

The Gunners were well beaten by Liverpool[1] in their last Premier League[2] outing before they were pegged back by Slavia Prague in the Europa League.

Fixtures fell generously for them with the Blades destined for relegation.

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Nevertheless Mikel Arteta’s side, who were without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe, put in a dominant display.

The Gunners will need to put together an excellent winning run to secure European football, but this was at least a start.

Alexandre Lacazette’s opener completed a beautiful sweeping move as Arsenal[3] went in 1-0 up at the break.

Gabriel Martinelli then doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining before Lacazette grabbed a second, his 50th in the Premier League.

The only downer on what was a positive Arsenal evening however was an injury to Bukayo Saka, who was forced off in the second 45.

Alexandre Lacazette finished off a fantastic opener
Alexandre Lacazette finished off a fantastic opener

Lacazette the middle man

The Frenchman has been linked with the exit door in the summer, but there has long been a demand to see Lacazette played regularly through the middle.

For much of his north London career he has played second fiddle to Aubameyang.

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But with the Gabon international absent and enjoying a mixed season Lacazette was allowed to adopt a central role.

It took him just over half an hour to open the scoring as he completed a sweeping move.

Its fair to say that Lacazette hasn’t properly fulfilled his potential at the Emirates, but with more to come fans will hope he stays put.

Partey seeking rhythm

Arteta declared in the lead up to this game that we would see the best of his summer signing in the coming weeks.

Thomas Partey left Atletico Madrid in a £45m deal but has struggled to justify that price tag thus far.

No one doubts the Ghanaian’s ability, but he has been unable to show it regularly enough.

Clearly a string of games is required with the midfielder showing signs of rustiness in Yorkshire.

Gabriel Martinelli tapped in to an empty net
Gabriel Martinelli tapped in to an empty net

What now for the Blades?

Chris Wilder referred to his squad as “Championship players” during his time in charge and that is what they will be soon enough – barring a miracle of course.

The gulf in quality between them and Arsenal was significant, but then again that is expected when you consider the financial differences between the teams.

That said, teams who go down from the top flight can experience contrasting fortunes. Some come straight back, otherwise endure consecutive relegations.

Sheffield United’s players suited a system that bought success under Wilder, but it was a unique set-up.

Whether the club’s next permanent manager can find another way of maximising this squad remains to be seen.

Xhaka is Arteta’s man

Kieran Tierney has been ruled out for several weeks meaning Arteta needed to find someone to fill in at left-back.

Bukayo Saka has played there several times, but a defensive role does nullify some of his qualities.

So Granit Xhaka ended up being the man to do a job in a position he is by no means used to.

What it does do though is underline the faith and confidence Arteta has in the Swiss star.

It was the Gunners boss who convinced Xhaka to stay at the Emirates before making him a mainstay of the starting XI.

He can be a divisive character, but he clearly has something his manager values.

The Blades' relegation could be confirmed in their next game
The Blades’ relegation could be confirmed in their next game

An injury crisis?

Arsenal had to travel to Yorkshire without Tierney, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang and Martin Odegaard.

All four are players you’d expect to feature regularly for the Gunners, so when Saka hobbled off the word ‘crisis’ came to mind.

The versatile youngster has been a star for the north London outfit and went down off the ball with what looked like a muscle issue.

He clashed with Rhian Brewster seconds before, although the contact was minimal.

Arteta will now be sweating on Saka’s fitness ahead of Thursday’s Europa League game.

References

  1. ^ Liverpool (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Premier League (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ Arsenal (www.mirror.co.uk)

[email protected] (Samuel Meade)


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