Arsenal really needed three points to reset their confidence, but Sheffield was never going to be an easy opponent. Here are five things learned from the match.
Arsenal knew this one wouldn’t be easy, but they also know what three points here would do to their standing in the Premier League table—a whole lot. Last time these two faced each other, a win for the Gunners would have put them in third. Now we were just hoping to move into the upper half. (And above Tottenham.)
There were only three changes made, all by necessity. Gabriel Martinelli came on for the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Bukayo Saka came on for the ravaged leftback corps. And *gulp* Shkodran Mustafi came on for an unwell Sokratis.
The Gunners snuck the first lead of the match, notching a rather fortuitous goal off a deflected cross just before half via Gabriel Martinelli, who had struggled to finish on two previous chances.
Of course, Sheffield had to claw one back, because why would the Gunners ever be able to see out a lead to the end?
Another 1-1 draw, and we have some positives and negatives to talk about in our five things learned. Let’s start with No. 5.
5. Please sell Mustafi
Supposedly, there’s a renewed interest in keeping hold of Mustafi. Today was yet another glaring indication of what he is. He is a competent defender for about 85 minutes, but the risk of individual error puts us in perpetual danger.
That happened yet again. We can’t keep waiting for him to change. He isn’t going to change. I don’t care what you get for him. He’s a liability. No matter what glimpses of promise we see out of him. the risk is always going to be there.
This isn’t even a lessen learned, but maybe it’s something Mikel Arteta needs to learn. I get that this time, Sokratis was sick, but I saw Rob Holding. I doubt Rob Holding could have done any worse. And at least there’s upside to Holding. Not so with Mustafi.
On to No. 4. Let’s try to spin positive.