Arsenal slumped to a dismal defeat in the Steel City on Monday night, as Sheffield United moved into the top 10 in the Premier League on the back of the 1-0 win. Old frailties were exposed in the first half, when Lys Mousset converted a smartly worked corner into Bernd Leno's net, with an exasperated Granit Xhaka playing the United man onside. Dani Ceballos and Alexandre Lacazette would be introduced in the second half, and despite adding a new level of threat to Arsenal's attack, neither could help force the vital equaliser on a thoroughly disappointing night for the visitors.
Nicolas Pepe enjoyed a fruitful evening, while the young guns of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock also impressed in spells, signalling a bright future for the club even if darker clouds blight the present-day squad. Ceballos' second-half cameo will be cause for optimism, with the Spaniard now returning to full fitness following an injury scare while on international duty.
As has so often been the case, poor defending, specifically from set pieces, were Arsenal's undoing. Surprisingly, David Luiz wasn't at fault. Instead a lack of organisation on corners once again exposed a glaring weakness for Arsenal -- something they will surely need to address if they wish to get back into the top four.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- The team selection appeared to be a balanced one prior to kick off, with injury concerns for Caballos and Lacazette leaving Unai Emery with few options. However, the Arsenal boss did take the bold step of introducing Ceballos at half-time, a move which certainly introduced more creativity to the side's midfield.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 5 -- Had a fairly quiet game with little to do in the first half. The first Sheffield United goal can also hardly be attributed to a Leno mistake, but handing issues were once more on show tonight.
DF Calum Chambers, 6 -- A tough night for Arsenal's stand in right-back. He struggled to prevent crosses into the Arsenal penalty box, something which eventually led to United's goal. The Englishman's performance did improve in the second half as he pushed forward into a wing-back role.
DF Sokratis, 6 -- Was caught out positionally on one or two occasions, and will perhaps feel slightly frustrated with his role in Sheffield United's opener. Otherwise, a decent night's work for the centre-back, who received a yellow card late on.
DF David Luiz, 6 -- it could be argued that Luiz was Arsenal's best defender throughout the first half, with a series of solid tackles and smart interceptions. It wasn't spectacular, but with such little expected from the Brazilian, it's a notable improvement when compared to recent performances.
DF Sead Kolasinac, 7 -- The Bosnia international was very threatening down the left-hand side, playing in a number of dangerous crosses -- with Pepe ailing to convert a particularly teasing ball. Will perhaps count himself unlucky that he didn't end the game with an assist.
MF Granit Xhaka, 6 -- A mixed evening for the ever-divisive Swiss midfielder. Xhaka was guilty of playing Mousset onside for United's goal, and was guilty on a number of occasions of squandering possession. That being said, had It not been for a fine save from Dean Henderson, Xhaka would have scored yet another spectacular long-range effort.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 6 -- Was partially at fault for Sheffield United's first goal, as he was beaten in the air fairly easily. Going forward his passing was solid, but overall a disappointing day for the promising Frenchman.
MF Joe Willock, 6 -- The promising attacking midfielder started the game brightly from a neutral position, but once Sheffield United got themselves in front, his influence on the game began to fade. Ultimately leading to Ceballos' introduction at half-time.
FW Bukayo Saka, 6 -- Had one or two lively moments, with incisive dribbles and smart link-up play. The Englishman was yellow carded for a simulated dive in the penalty area, following a mazy run.
FW Nicolas Pepe, 7 -- The Ivory Coast star was Arsenal's biggest attacking threat for large spells, but will be disappointed to have missed a close range effort from a wonderful Kolasinac cross. He was once again bright in the second half, but was largely reduced to long range efforts that didn't threaten Henderson enough.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 5 -- A rare off-night, he cut a frustrated and isolated figure at times. Each ball that was played through either seemed to be just too long, or miscontrolled -- but the full-time whistle ended a thoroughly frustrating evening for the prolific Gabon international.
MF Dani Ceballos, 7 -- The Spain international had a notable impact after coming on at half-time, but missed a crucial chance midway through the second period. While his impact did change the shape of the game, it couldn't nudge the score line on this occasion.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 5 -- Much like his striking counterpart, the Frenchman failed to impact the match late on.
FW Gabriel Martinelli, N/A -- Brief cameo with one threatening run down the left flank.