Arsenal blunt Blades as Gunners cruise to 5-0 win at the Emirates
Arsenal 5 (Nketiah 28, 50, 58, Vieira 88 (pen), Tomiyasu 90+6)
Sheffield United 0
A hat-trick from Eddie Nketiah helped Arsenal cruise past Sheffield United 5-0 in the Premier League this afternoon.
Nketiah, in for Gabriel Jesus, who was injured in Seville on Tuesday, gave the Gunners the lead after 28 minutes, collecting Declan Rice’s through ball and slotting past Wes Foderingham.
He doubled Arsenal’s advantage soon after the break, capitalising on a mistake by Foderingham, and then smashed home a 20-yard beauty soon afterwards to seal the points.
Fabio Vieira’s penalty two minutes from the end of normal time made it four, and Takehiro Tomiyasu rubbed salt into the Sheffield wounds deep into added time with a fifth.
The Gunners move up to second in the Premier League – two points behind north London rivals Spurs.
United restricted the Gunners during the opening stages. The first half chance for the home side came after 20 minutes, with David Raya almost providing an assist.
The Spaniard caught the ball from a Sheffield attack and split the visitors’ defence with a long throw.
Gabriel Martinelli raced through, but was held up by the solitary Blades defender left in his own half, and when Bukayo Saka was unable to turn in the resulting centre from Martinelli, the attack petered out.
But United’s rearguard was breached after 28 minutes. Rice’s swept pass was collected inside the box by Nketiah. The striker’s first touch was perfect to control the ball and take it past Auston Trusty in one, and he finished calmly beyond Foderingham.
The goal gave the Gunners an understandable lift. William Saliba’s long pass soon afterwards found Oleksandr Zinchenko in the box, and although he managed to control the pass, Trusty nicked the ball off his left foot as he looked set to shoot.
Martinelli then drew a fine save from Foderingham at his near post with a shot from 12 yards, and Emile Smith Rowe saw an effort from similar range blocked, as Arsenal looked to cement their advantage as the break approached.
The Blades just about held on to the one-goal margin at half-time, but they could only resist for five minutes longer come the start of the second period.
Foderingham flapped at a corner from the right, and Nketiah was there to smash the ball into the roof of the net for his second of the afternoon.
VAR checked whether Ben White had impeded the goalkeeper from the corner, but the goal was cleared and the Gunners had their breathing space.
Nketiah saved his best for last, however. Receiving the ball from Smith Rowe 20 yards out, he turned, looked up and cracked an unstoppable drive into the top left-hand corner past the hapless Foderingham for 3-0.
The Gunners were even afforded the luxury of taking off their two forward talisman with time to spare – Saka and Martinelli were not at their best today, but in truth didn’t really need to be.
And there was still time for one more. Fabio Vieira was upended right on the edge of the box, and after a lengthy VAR intervention referee Tim Robinson eventually pointed to the spot. Vieira git up and placed his kick beyond Foderingham.
The 10-minutes of stoppage time all seemed rather unnecessary, and was probably the last thing United wanted. However it allowed the Gunners time for a fifth, Takehiro Tomiyasu reacting first to the second ball from a corner and planting his shot past the goalkeeper.
Arsenal: Raya, Saliba, White (Tomiyasu, 66), Saka (Nelson 73), Smith Rowe (Vieira, 73), Martinelli (Trossard, 66), Nketiah, Kiwior, Havertz, Zinchenko, Rice (Elneny, 89)
Sheffield United: Foderingham, Trusty, Brewster (Archer, 59), Hamer (One, 83), Thomas, Norwood (Baldock, 71), Robinson, Bogle, Souza, Slimane (Osborn, 59), McAtee (Fleck, 71)