ARSENAL 5–0 SHEFFIELD UNITED: BY THE VISUALS
ARSENAL 1–0 SHEFFIELD UNITED: BY THE NUMBERS
21 – This season, Mikel Arteta has used 21 different players to form his starting XI, while in the first 10 games of the previous season, he chose from 16.
The last time Arsenal played Sheffield United in the Premier League, Aaron Ramsdale was in goal for the Blades. Counterpart David Raya made his sixth consecutive Premier League start for The Gunners, and there were five changes from the last match in Sevilla. Emile Smith Rowe got a first league start since May 2022, replacing Jorginho. Kai Havertz replaced Martin Ødegaard, Eddie Nketiah came in for the injured Gabriel Jesus, Jakub Kiwior allowed Gabriel to rest, and Oleksandr Zinchenko returned in place of Takehiro Tomiyasu.
18 – The visitors ranked 18th for goals scored per match, hadn’t won in 11 attempts, had failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 6 matches, and possess the worst defence in the league.
Collecting 3 points and delivering a strong performance was imperative. However, during the first 20 minutes, the two most threatening attacks came from two excellent, quick, long passes by Raya, releasing Martinelli, as the visitors aimed to defend from the outset.
The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute when Eddie displayed superb touch and finishing (0.75 xG, 0.96 xGOT) after a cross from Rice.
20 — Sheffield United ranked 20th for conceding from set-pieces.
The second goal arrived five minutes into the second half as Saka’s corner was not properly dealt with, and Nketiah smashed a shot into the top corner (0.14 xG, 0.81 xGOT).
His third goal was a thing of absolute beauty. He collected a pass from Smith Rowe and rifled the ball into the net from 20 yards (0.06 xG, 0.33 xGOT).
Vieira scored from the spot (0.79 xG) late on, before Tomiyasu, deep into injury time, added the icing on the cake (0.17 xG, 0.60 xGOT) from an Elneny flick-on.
4 – Goals from inside the box.
1 – Goal from outside the box as Eddie Nketiah scores his first Premier League goal from outside the penalty area.
2 – Goals from open-play.
2 – Goals from corners out of just three shots.
1 – Goal from the penalty spot, which marks Arsenal’s 6th penalty of the Premier League season, two more than 2nd-placed Liverpool for penalties awarded.
4 – Big chances created and 3 big chances scored.
13 – Attempts in total, with 10 from inside the box.
2.77 – Expected goals (xG) for Arsenal, 1.66 from open-play and 0.32 from set-pieces.
7.8 – Minutes per shot for Arsenal compared to 51(!) minutes per shot for Sheffield United.
8 – Shots on target (62%).
* The graph on the right only considers passes (not carries). Forward passes are rated highly, while passes backward, away from goal, are rated negatively.
133 – Touches by William Saliba, averaging just 0.7 minutes per touch. He led in touches in both the defensive third (53) and middle third (79) of the pitch. Saliba completed 96% of his 127 attempted passes, covering more progressive distance than any other player (67 metres), and was part of a defence that allowed only 2 shots, with one of those generously given by Opta. Wilo Saliba also ranked 1st in recoveries (12) and carries (107).
12 – Progressive passes by Oleksandr Zinchenko (1st overall), 8 passes into the final third (2nd overall), 1 key pass, 0.4 xA (joint 1st with Gabriel Martinelli), 3 through balls (1st overall) and 71 passes in the opposition half (1st overall).
This is precisely the type of match in which Zinchenko excels. Having players of caliber like him and Tomiyasu is a much-needed luxury, and their abilities seamlessly complement each other for various match scenarios.
4 – There were 4 take-on attempts with 3 completed (75%) by Gabriel Martinelli (1st overall), but none were as majestic as when Leo Trossard left Ben Osborne in a heap behind him late in the game.
Martinelli completed 2 passes into the penalty area (1st overall, tied with Smith Rowe), delivered 3 key passes (1st overall), executed 8 progressive carries (1st overall), made 6 carries into the penalty area (1st overall) and had 6 shot-creating actions (1st overall).
2 – Interceptions by Kai Havertz (1st overall), who won 3 (joint 1st overall) from 5 aerial duels.
EDDIE NKETIAH’S GAME BY NUMBERS
32 touches, 14/20 (70%) accurate passes, 1 progressive pass, 4 shots, 3 shots on target, 3 goals, 3 blocks, 4 shot-creating actions, 23 carries, 2 progressive carries, 1/1 successful dribble, 1 clearance and 1 match ball.
Eddie has been fantastic for us, but unfortunately, no matter what he does, he’s rarely appreciated. He’s a brilliant backup striker, stepping up in tough situations. Two seasons ago, he kept us in the top 4 race. Last season, he contributed to our title run despite challenges. This season, he’s scored goals, earned penalties, and bagged his first Premier League hat-trick, equaling his best league goal tally.
Our squad is evolving, and we may upgrade our striking options. But for now, Eddie fills the role perfectly. He’s also increasing his market value, benefiting us in the future. How many better backup strikers are there in the league?
2 – Arsenal have kept back-to-back clean sheets in Premier League home matches for the first time since December 2021.
I still don’t think we’re performing at our best offensively, yet we managed to secure a comfortable win and score five goals. We kept a clean sheet at home and again witnessed some strong substitute performances. The match allowed for some players to be rested, with another opportunity in midweek. Next.
Follow me on Twitter @jonollington
Sources: Opta, fbref, @Orbinho twitter feed