SoccerMatch Report

Arsenal keep up league goal glut as they hit Sheffield United for six

Gunners the first side in English football to win three consecutive away games by five or more goals

Premier League: Sheffield United 0 Arsenal 6

Nights like these, under the lights in the pouring rain and against an opposition with nothing to lose, when your two main rivals have already won earlier in the weekend, are the ones where title challenges can take an unexpected tumble.

The only problem with that, though, is nobody appeared to inform Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side. The only thing that tumbled here on a miserable Monday evening in south Yorkshire were the records.

Arsenal have been sensational in the Premier League since the turn of the year and this, their seventh consecutive league win to move them within two points of Liverpool at the top, was another night which reinforced how this group are immune to the kind of slip-ups their predecessors suffered. Yes, Arsenal were expected to win against a team sinking back to the Championship, but the manner of this display was scintillating.

Ahead by five before half-time, the fluency with which Arsenal blew away Sheffield United would have certainly made Liverpool and Manchester City take notice. They are the first side in English football to win three consecutive away games by five or more goals and, perhaps more importantly, they now have a superior goal difference over both their title rivals.


As for Sheffield United, the Championship awaits them next season after another damning indictment of just how far beneath Premier League quality they are.

The writing was on the wall for the hosts right from the kick-off. Arsenal could and perhaps should have taken the lead inside the opening minute, slicing the Blades’ defence open with a glorious one-two to allow Bukayo Saka to square for Declan Rice. His shot was blocked before Saka’s half-volley cannoned back off the crossbar and Gabriel Martinelli had a shot cleared off the line. However, the visitors wouldn’t have to wait long to open the scoring: two minutes, in fact.

Martinelli linked up superbly with Rice, with the latter’s inch-perfect ball back across goal tapped into the empty net by Martin Ødegaard. That merely served to stir Arsenal further into life and, by the time the game had reached the 20-minute mark, it was already long decided by two more goals of the highest quality. Saka gave the former Arsenal defender Auston Trusty a terrible evening and, when he jinked past the full back with sheer ease, his ball across goal was turned by a helpless Jayden Bogle into his own net to make it 2-0.

Two minutes later, it was three. The hosts simply couldn’t live with Arsenal’s blistering array of attacking options and this time it was Martinelli who was chief beneficiary, turning home after Jakub Kiwior teed him up inside the area. Chris Wilder made a change, sacrificing Oliver Norwood to revert his side to a back five, but the damage had already been done.

He could only offer Norwood an apologetic pat on the head as he substituted him but, just like their manager, some of the home fans had seen enough, walking out before a quarter of the contest – if you could call it that – had even passed. That smattering of supporters heading for the exits turned into something of a mass exodus when the inevitable fourth goal arrived before the half-hour mark.

This time it was Kai Havertz who took full advantage of yet more insipid defending from the hosts; Anel Ahmedhodzic hauled down Martinelli as he broke free but Havertz collected the ball and coolly slotted past Ivo Grbic to make it four. Were Arsenal done? The hosts were clearly woeful but Arsenal, and Saka in particular, were magnificent, and the England winger ghosted past Ben Osborn before cutting back for Rice to score Arsenal’s fifth. By half-time, it was simply a case of how many records would tumble by the end of the evening.

Arteta opted to protect Saka by substituting him at half-time, but it didn’t stem the flow of goals. The sixth arrived before the hour mark, as a wonderful piece of control from Havertz teed up Ben White to finish superbly past Grbic. Those home supporters who had remained – and the numbers were dwindling by the minute – were now witnessing a procession. The one scare for Arteta was a knock for Martinelli, as he rung the changes for the final quarter introducing, among others, the returning Thomas Partey.

The one small mercy for the hosts was they at least avoided conceding again in those final minutes. But it mattered little and Arsenal minds would have already switched to Saturday, when victory over Brentford would move them top before Liverpool and City square off on Sunday. Few would back against them doing that on this form. – Guardian