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Arsenal vs Sheffield United. Premier League.

Emirates StadiumAttendance60,310.

Arsenal 1

  • G Martinelli (45th minute)

Sheffield United 1

  • J Fleck (83rd minute)

Arsenal 1-1 Sheffield United: John Fleck earns battling Blades a point

Match report and highlights as Sheffield United end run of back-to-back defeats away from home; Arsenal stay 10th in the Premier League after draw

Oliver Yew at the Emirates Stadium

Saturday 18 January 2020 20:06, UK

Arsenal v Sheffield United highlights 2:59
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights as Arsenal and Sheffield United draw in the Premier League

Sheffield United remain four points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League after battling back from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium.

The visitors were the better side for long periods of the first half but all their good early work was undone when Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli, who replaced the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, tucked home from close range (45) just before half-time.

Martinelli magic

At 18 years and 214 days, Gabriel Martinelli became the second youngest player to score a Premier League goal for Arsenal at the Emirates, after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Blackburn in February 2012 (18y 173d).

Blades boss Chris Wilder would have been wondering how his side went in trailing at the break but they did eventually get their reward when John Fleck (83) pounced at the far post to beat Bernd Leno and secure his side a share of the spoils.

Despite the point, Sheffield United, who end a run of back-to-back defeats away from Bramall Lane, drop to seventh, but they remain three places ahead of Mikel Arteta's side, who stay 10th.

How the Blades frustrated Arsenal...

Sheffield United started extremely brightly, showing exactly why they began the game four points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League table. And it was the visitors who created the first opening as Enda Stevens, who was gifted possession by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, picked out Lys Mousset in the penalty area, but the Frenchman failed to test Leno with his header.

Player ratings

Arsenal: Leno (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Mustafi (7), Luiz (7), Saka (7), Torreira (7), Xhaka (7), Pepe (8), Ozil (6), Martinelli (7), Lacazette (7).

Subs: Nketiah (6).

Sheffield United: Henderson (7), Baldock (6), O’Connell (6), Basham (7), Egan (7), Stevens (7), Fleck (8), Lundstrum (7), Norwood (8), Mousset (7), McBurnie (7).

Subs: Sharp (6), Robinson (6), Besic (6).

Man of the match: John Fleck.

Despite Arsenal's struggles in the opening stages, they still provided a threat on the counter-attack and Martinelli should have done better after being picked out by Nicolas Pepe at the far post, slicing a volley wide of the target.

Martinelli fired wide again, having been played in by Pepe for a second time, as the Gunners looked to show they could cope with losing their top goalscorer. And it was the Brazilian who eventually found his scoring boots right on the stroke of half-time, drifting into the six-yard box to convert Bukayo Saka's deflected cross for his ninth goal in 10 starts for the Gunners.

More on this story

Arsenal goalscorer Gabriel Martinelli celebrates Nicolas Pepe
Image: Arsenal goalscorer Gabriel Martinelli celebrates with Nicolas Pepe

There was still plenty of work to do for Arteta and his side and they nearly gifted the visitors an equaliser in the 55th minute when Leno failed to get anywhere near a corner. Substitute Billy Sharp almost capitalised but his header was cleared off the line by Granit Xhaka.

United appealed for handball against the former Arsenal captain but a VAR check cleared Xhaka as Wilder's side began to build the pressure on the hosts as they went in search of an equaliser.

VAR was called into action once again when Pepe appeared to be tripped in the Sheffield United penalty area, but the video referee sided with Mike Dean, who waved away the appeals during what was his 500th Premier League game.

Team news

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta made three changes to his side for the visit of Sheffield United. The Gunners, without suspended captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, also lost Reiss Nelson to a hamstring injury and Sokratis Papastathopoulos through illness. In came Shkodran Mustafi, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli as Alexandre Lacazette captained the side.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder made one enforced alteration to the side that won 1-0 against West Ham. Striker David McGoldrick missed out with a foot injury, with Lys Mousset – who scored the goal which beat Arsenal at Bramall Lane back in October - recalled.

The Blades were finishing the stronger of the two sides and they should have had an equaliser when Oli McBurnie sent a free header straight at Leno with 10 minutes remaining.

Arsenal managed just one shot on target following their goal, with that effort coming from Shkodran Mustafi in the 90th minute.

However, they were back on level terms three minutes later as Sharp flicked a Callum Robinson cross into the path of Fleck, whose shot skipped off the turf and flashed into the corner of Leno's net to secure a deserved point.

What the managers said…

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta: "I'm very disappointed today. I think the performance deserved three points and I think we lost two points. In the Premier League, if you don't put the game to bed then in the last 10 or 15 minutes this type of team just need a long ball, a second ball, a set-piece, and you can give the points away. That's it.

3:03
Arsenal's Mikel Arteta praises his side for their effort and commitment

"There's a history of [nerves in the stadium]. It makes it even more. In the Premier League we are 1-0 up and in the last 10 or 15 minutes you have to be careful, because anything can happen. I inherited a team that was in a difficult situation and we're trying to improve it as much as possible. I don't know. In the second half, Sheffield United didn't generate any efforts on goal - it's just one long ball, a second ball and then someone put it top bins from an incredible angle. It's difficult to control it."

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder: "I don't think we were anywhere near our best today. The result is better than the performance, the game was not put to bed by the opposition. When teams don't put you to bed, we have an opportunity to get something from the game. We need to play a lot better than that for us to regularly pick up points."

preview image 3:17
Chris Wilder was unimpressed with Sheffield United's performance despite claiming a point

Man of the match - John Fleck

For much of the game, Sheffield United looked like the home side as they dominated possession at the Emirates.

Fleck was a key component of that and his excellent season continued with an impressive display in the middle of the park for Wilder's side.

And to top it off he grabbed the crucial equaliser - his seventh goal involvement for the Blades in the Premier League this season (5 goals, 2 assists), but his first away from home.

Opta stats - Another draw for the Gunners

  • Arsenal have dropped 13 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, as many as they had in the whole of the 2018-19 campaign.
  • The Gunners have now drawn more games than any other side in the Premier League this season (11), with the Gunners last drawing more in a single campaign in 2008-09 (12).
  • Sheffield United have won 16 points away from home in the Premier League this season (W3 D7), their joint highest tally on the road in a single campaign in the competition (also 16 in 1992-93).

What's next?

Arsenal now go to Chelsea on Tuesday evening at 8.15pm, before travelling to Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round at 8pm on Monday, January 27. Sheffield United host Manchester City on Tuesday evening in the Premier League; kick-off 7.30pm.

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