Arsenal needed a positive performance after disappointing ‘news’ about Aouar and Partey, who had become virtual Arsenal players with continual press coverage.
As Arteta said – what happens in the next 24 hours will determine the course of the season.
However, Sheffield United aren’t the easiest side to display creativity against – with their five-man defence and physicality – with the likes of Basham, Baldock and Lundstram.
Arsenal started in a back four with a mix and match side from the two Liverpool games. Nketiah came in for Lacazette and Elneny for Xhaka. Egan was back from suspension to strengthen United who were goalless coming into this.
A good move on the left involving Saka and Aubameyang was promising but fizzled out.
Burke pressured Luiz and Leno had to rush out to clear. A dangerous shirt tug could have risked a red. The Brazilian was very lucky to stay on.
A Sheffield corner sounded a warning with a three v two and a scrambled clearance.
In the first half Sheffield United look comfortable for a side with only one point to date this season. Although Arsenal won over 70% possession, their first shot on target was in the 28th minute. The proceedings were showing that Arsenal need a creative midfielder.
Saka was getting fouled continuously. Baldock was warned by Lee Mason. And Berge challenged Aubameyang with studs up and with force – earning a yellow.
Tierney was sending some good balls into the box.
Most of Arsenal’s attacks were down the left. Gabriel sent a good ball to Aubameyang but it ran clear. Soon after the Gabonese forward performed an overhead shot – which didn’t trouble Ramsdale.
Arsenal upped the pace at the start of the second.
Ceballos knocked a first- time pass into the area which undid the Sheffield defence – but Aubameyang just missed a connection.
Nketiah came off on 56 – with Pepe on and Aubameyang switching to the middle.
Arsenal’s first time passing was beginning to work. Willian passed to Elneny who found Aubameyang who found Bellerin who lobbed to Saka, who planted it with his head into the top left corner – not an easy chance. Rapid one touch passing had finally undid the five-man defence.
Three minutes later, Bellerin sent it to Pepe who went on a run from right to centre at speed and planted a low shot into the corner of the net. Looked like he was following the manager’s instructions to the letter.
Ceballos showed some neat control in midfield. McBurnie hit Sheffield’s first shot on target in the 78th minute.
Pepe ran back and performed a crunching tackle.
McGoldrick took a shot and curled it around a diving Leno – for United’s first goal of the season with their second effort on target of the match.
Maitland Niles came on for Saka – to shore things up.
But Sheffield finished pressing for the goal and creating chances.
Mikel Arteta said: “It was really hard work. They are a tricky team – organised. We needed to be patient and concede no set pieces. We got two really good goals. If you don’t score the third in the Premiership, it can be difficult.”
Sheffield manager, Chris Wilder talked about the tug of the shirt which he said was an obvious red card.
Arsenal: Leno, David Luiz, Magalhães, Tierney, Bellerín, Ceballos, Elneny, Saka, Willian, Nketiah, Aubameyang
Subs: Lacazette, Rúnarsson, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Pépé, Willock, Xhaka
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham, Egan, Robinson, Baldock, Lundstram, Berge, Osborn, Stevens, Burke, McGoldrick
Subs: Fleck, McBurnie, Sharp, Lowe, Norwood, Foderingham, Ampadu