Sheffield United 0 Arsenal 6: Another pathetic Blades display threatens to put long-term planning in jeopardy

Absolutely pathetic. There was no other way of describing it as Sheffield United were beaten 6-0 at Bramall Lane by Arsenal.

Having conceded five goals in each of their last three home games, the Blades extended the sequence to four after just 39 minutes. It could have been a scoreline of Newcastle United proportions had the visitors not eased up and rested players in the second half.

Arsenal are a brilliant football team but they came up against zero resistance from a side who now have a goal difference of minus 50.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The game was only 16 minutes old when Chris Wilder admitted his tactical error, substituting the unfortunate Oliver Norwood, who had made a good block on Jorginho in his short stint and switching to five at the back. Formations, though, mean nothing when players are gliding past you without a tackle.

The Blades were already 3-0 down by the time that particular stable door was locked, but it made absolutely no difference.

By the time the second half started, Wilder had used four of his five permitted substitutes.

Four or five at the back, Arsenal continued to run down both sides of the home defence (if the Trade Descriptions Act allows it to be called that) with embarrassing ease.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This could turn out to be about more than just rewriting the record books. We know Sheffield United will be playing Championship football next season but how much more damage can manager Wilder, brought in to oversee a rebuild, take before they get there? How much harm is being done to these players who will be expected to bounce back next season with a parachute over their heads?

DEJECTED: Vinicius Souza (left) and Jack Robinson trudge back after another Arsenal goalDEJECTED: Vinicius Souza (left) and Jack Robinson trudge back after another Arsenal goal
DEJECTED: Vinicius Souza (left) and Jack Robinson trudge back after another Arsenal goal

It took all of two minutes for Arsenal to hit the crossbar, Bukayo Saka playing a give-and-go with Jorginho before thumping the frame of the goal. Gabriel Martinelli contorted himself to force a save from the rebound but would not have to wait long for his goal.

Martin Odegaard beat him to it, though, Declan Rice pulling the ball back for him to find the net inside five minutes.

Saka got to the byline for the second, which bounced in off Jayden Bogle and the third came after 15 minutes, Jakub Kiwior the crosser, Martinelli on the end of the cutback.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Boring, boring Arsenal!" gloated the away fans as some home supporters headed for the exits. There has been some debate lately about whether you are a "real" fan if you leave a game so early but you would have to a real sado-masochist to sit through the football team you love embarrassing you so crushingly as that.

ELATED: Buakyo Saka (far left) celebrates Gabriel Martinell's goalELATED: Buakyo Saka (far left) celebrates Gabriel Martinell's goal
ELATED: Buakyo Saka (far left) celebrates Gabriel Martinell's goal

Perhaps bored of picking out players from the byline, the Gunners went for a different approach to score the fourth, the worst of the lot from a home perspective.

The captain, Anel Ahmedhodzic made a pathetic challenge on Martinelli, pulling the Brazilian back only after he had beaten him and laid the ball off to Kai Havertz, who ran through and scored.

The captain would be hooked in the 65 minute to give young midfielder Oliver Arblaster a Premier League debut, the last of Wilder's substitutes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Often managers are reluctant to throw youngsters into games like this, on a hiding to nothing, but Wilder must have felt he had little choice but to throw on Arblaster, Will Osula and Andre Brooks with the seniors letting the badge down so badly.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Sheffield United fans leave their seats after Gabriel Martinelli puts Arsenal 3-0 up after just 15 minutesSHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Sheffield United fans leave their seats after Gabriel Martinelli puts Arsenal 3-0 up after just 15 minutes
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Sheffield United fans leave their seats after Gabriel Martinelli puts Arsenal 3-0 up after just 15 minutes

For the fifth, Saka beat the new left-back Ben Osborn, even more easily than he had been doing to Auston Trusty, and allowed a gleeful Rice to score the fifth.

Ben White helped himself to the sixth, rifled in after Havertz went past Trusty as if he was invisible.

Last month former Gunners manager Unai Emery talked about his Aston Villa side showing "respect" from a similar platform, and Mikel Arteta's men took a similarly benign attitude. They headed home with the best goal difference of the three sides in this season's title race, having scored 21 goals in their last four matches.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When Will Osula carried the ball goalwards in the 83rd minute he shot wildly off target but drew polite applause from those that had stayed for at least having a go. Bogle got the same treatment for toe-poking an attempt that was meant to curl off the outside of his boot a couple of minutes later. It had come to that.

In between them Ivo Grbic – too badly exposed to be at fault for any of the six goals – made a good save from Gabriel Jesus. Jack Robinson, a centre-back, was his team's least worst player, showing the leadership to justify finishing the match with the captain's armband around his bicep by throwing himself in the way of plenty of shots.

So if they were the Blades' two best performers, you can work out how bad the rest were.

Wilder's return to Bramall Lane was supposed to be about injecting fight but like his predecessor Paul Heckingbottom, he is struggling to stop these surrenders becoming a pattern.

The boos at full-time said it all.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Not being good enough to take points off an Arsenal team as dazzling as their dayglo yellow-and-black kit is one thing, but this was unacceptable. Again.

Sheffield United: Grbic; Bogle, Ahmedhodzic (Arblaster 65(, Robinson, Trusty; McAtee (Baldock HT), Norwood (Osborn 16), Souza, Costa, Davies (Brooks HT), Hamer; McBurnie (Osula HT).

Unused substitutes: Brereton Diaz, Foderingham, Larouci, Peck.

Arsenal: Raya; White (65), Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Odegaard, Jorginho (Partey 65(, Rice (Trossard 73); Saka (Vieira HT), Havertz, Martinelli (Jesus 65).

Unused substitutes: Ramsdale, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Nelson.

Referee: S Barrott (West Yorkshire).

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.