Arsenal 1-1 Sheffield: Gunners Drop Points Yet Again
Arsenal (Martinelli 45′) 1-1 Sheffield United (Fleck 83′)
When the preview of this game was published, the collective expectation from Arsenal fans was to get a victory against Sheffield at home. Yes, with the opposition performing above expectations on the top half of the table, but with the Mikel Arteta resurgence, as well as the team playing a better brand of football, hopes were high.
Arsenal started the game brightly with Granit Xhaka making a rare foray forward before dinking the ball to Mesut Ozil. The German schemer was aware of Nicolas Pepe’s positioning and flicked a beautiful ball to the Ivorian but his shot was poor. Pepe showed some good dribbling skills to evade his markers and tee up Gabriel Martinelli but the young Brazilian’s snap shot went wide.
Arsenal continued to attack the Blades and got their just reward when Bukayo Saka swung in a cross that deflected its way to Martinelli’s path and the Brazilian was on hand to side foot the ball home. The manager needed someone else to step up in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence and it was good to see Martinelli grab the bull by its horn and score a well deserved goal. For what his worth, I hope he retains his place when Auba returns.
The turning point of the match arrived when Pepe was impeded in the box but the combination of the erratic Mike Dean and the VAR decided, in their infinite wisdom, that it was not a penalty. Sometimes you tend to wonder the usefulness of technology when it cannot be utilized for what is required of it. I guess it comes down to the competence of the folks using it then.
As you would expect in an unforgiving competition like the Premier League, Sheffield attacked late on and the Arsenal rearguard switched off as usual, allowing John Fleck to blast the ball on the ground, which flashed past Bernd Leno to level the contest.
This result leaves Arsenal in 10th place, and 10 points behind fourth place Chelsea.
One must wonder why the team is still struggling so badly, and at this point, we can not wait for the summer. It has been a shambolic campaign in the Premier League but it can still be salvaged with the FA Cup and Europa League.
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