Arsenal continued their unbeaten start in the Premier League this season with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, and the star of the show was none other than Eddie Nketiah, who notched his first-ever Premier League hat-trick.
For Eddie Nketiah, this game marked a turning point in his season. Prior to this match, he had endured a goalless streak spanning nine matches. Nketiah became the first Englishman to score a hat-trick for Arsenal since Theo Walcott against West Brom in 2015.
With Gabriel Jesus sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained in a Champions League against Sevilla, Mikel Arteta had a decision to make. He chose to place his trust in Nketiah despite having the option of deploying Kai Havertz as the central striker. Arteta’s decision paid off handsomely as Nketiah seized the opportunity and owned the headlines.
The game, while initially slow-paced, witnessed a moment of brilliance in the 28th minute. Nketiah found the net courtesy of a sublime pass from Declan Rice, a goal of sheer perfection worth replaying repeatedly.
The pass from Rice was nothing short of excellence, but it was Nketiah’s deft touch that created space between him and former Gunner Auston Trusty. This culminated in a finish that exuded flair and finesse. It was a goal of the highest pedigree that set the tone for the spectacle that followed.
Nketiah’s second goal came just five minutes into the second half, doubling Arsenal’s lead and extinguishing any lingering doubts about the outcome. Once again, his finish was emphatic, this time after the ball fell into his path inside Sheffield United’s box.
As impressive as the first two strikes were, Nketiah’s third and final goal stood out. Receiving the ball 20 yards from the goal from Emile Smith Rowe, he unleashed a ferocious effort into the top corner. It was a confident finish from a player who is evolving into a versatile and well-rounded forward.
In another context, had Arsenal signed Nketiah for a princely sum of £70 million from another club, he would undoubtedly be hailed as a hero, and his name would reverberate in the hearts of every Arsenal fan.
The recruitment team would bask in the glory of their astute acquisition. However, in Nketiah’s case, Mikel Arteta deserves immense credit for placing his faith in the player when fans and pundits questioned his suitability for a club of Arsenal’s stature.
With this stellar hat trick, Nketiah’s season tally now stands at an impressive five goals and one assist in 14 appearances, making him the joint-top scorer for Arsenal alongside Bukayo Saka.
The story did not end with Nketiah’s heroics; Arsenal’s depth shone even brighter as two substitutes, Fabio Vieira and Takehiro Tomiyasu, etched their names on the scoresheet, culminating in a resounding 5-0 scoreline. Vieira, displaying cool confidence, won and converted a late penalty before setting up Tomiyasu from a corner, allowing the Japanese defender to register his first-ever Arsenal goal.
Arteta’s willingness to place faith in his squad players was a key theme of the match. Emile Smith Rowe earned his first league start, while Jakob Kiwior partnered William Saliba at the heart of Arsenal’s defense.
Club captain Martin Odegaard, who had been struggling with form (and injuries) in recent games, was rested, and Gabriel Magalhaes was given a break. Arsenal’s substitutions—Leandro Trossard, Tomiyasu, Fabio Vieira, Reiss Nelson, and Mohamed Elneny—all contributed to this rout.
It may have been against the Premier League’s bottom club, but this impressive victory will undoubtedly bolster the confidence of these players as they vie for a starting spot in the future.
Arsenal’s five-star performance against Sheffield United marked their most resounding victory of the season. Additionally, it propelled them within striking distance of North London rivals Tottenham, narrowing the gap at the top to just two points in the quest for a first Premier League title in two decades.