Mikel Arteta conceded his frustration at the latest, slow staging post in this new era under his command at Arsenal.
The Gunners paid the price for a significant lack of joined up thinking against a superbly organised Sheffield United, who earned a 1-1 draw at the Emirates.
Moreover, the Blades were good value for a point as their defensive resilience continues under boss Chris Wilder. This approach was impressive, while Arsenal, on the other hand, must find more ingenious ways of pressurising opponents from positions of strength at home.
It looked like Gabriel Martinelli’s goal, just before half time, was enough to gather all three points, only for the Yorkshire side to conjure up a fine equaliser through John Fleck with mere minutes remaining. Unlike the hosts, Sheffield United proved you don’t need to press and misplace opportunities to make capital and gain points. Arsenal did have a reasonable penalty call overruled by VAR when Nicolas Pepe went down in the box when challenged Jack O’Connell – but those hopes were as high as it got in a disappointing second half.
Therefore, the draw leaves the Gunners, who travel across London to Chelsea on Tuesday night, stalling in 10th place. And Arteta is also stuck with the disappointing statistic of just one victory in five Premier League outings since replacing Unai Emery.
“I’m very disappointed today,” admitted the Arsenal manager. “I inherited a team in a difficult situation to improve as much as possible.
“I think the players all tried really hard and didn’t allow them to come out, apart from the first five to ten minutes and then we settled more on the ball. They committed more players forward later on but obviously (looking ahead) there are things I want to improve.”
One bright spot for the Gunners chief was the display from 19 year old Martinelli, who has grown into the responsibilities at Arsenal when chosen. although the absence of the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was telling.
“He was so brave and enthusiastic,” added Arteta. “He will have more opportunities to come for us and considering he hasn’t played 90 minutes for a while he was impressive.”
Wilder, meanwhile, was pleased considering his admission that the Blades were far from their best in north London, compared to their more enterprising performances throughout an eye-catching campaign.
“I didn’t think we were anywhere near our best but if you can a result when just sticking in that’s great,” said the Blades manager. “It was quite a weird game, the first ten minutes we started well as we did in the last ten and we could have nicked it, but it wouldn’t have been deserved.
“I’m pleased we got a point and we always give ourselves a chance with our attitude and not making it easy for the opposition.”