By Josh James
Alexandre Lacazette claimed his 50th Premier League goal as we returned to winning ways in convincing fashion at Bramall Lane.
The Frenchman opened the scoring with his 49th in the competition - applying the finishing touch to a wonderful team move - before sealing the win late on with goal number 50, tucking home Thomas Partey's excellent throughball.
In between those two goals, Gabriel Martinelli scored his first for 15 months, after good work from Nicolas Pepe.
There was a welcome clean sheet as well, as we prepared for Thursday's must-win encounter in Prague in the perfect manner.
The only blot on the evening was an injury to Bukayo Saka, and it was the youngster – operating in a free role behind the forwards – who had our first attempt, blazing over after bursting into the penalty area.
The hosts were passing the ball nicely themselves though and David McGoldrick fired a shot just wide from the edge of the area in an evenly matched opening quarter of an hour.
But our link-up play up front was much improved from recent weeks, and we soon took control. Saka, Pepe and Martinelli were combing particularly well, while Dani Ceballos was full of nice touches in midfield.
It was one such delightful flick from the Spaniard that set up the opening goal for Lacazette. We worked the ball well outside the area, with Thomas Partey and Saka involved, before Ceballos found Lacazette with a deft touch, and he finished neatly past Aaron Ramsdale. It was a wonderful flowing team goal, and no more than we deserved at that point.
Martinelli had already flashed a couple of efforts wide while Calum Chambers – up from full back – had seen his low effort blocked by a defender when it seemed destined for the net.
Martinelli himself had a goalbound effort blocked when the ball fell to him from a half-cleared corner.
We were well on top by the break, and should really have been further ahead.
We continued to make chances after the break – Lacazette was unable to supply the finishing touch after being set up by Pepe – but we didn't look comfortable until the second goal finally came, 20 minutes from time.
It was Pepe who pounced on a loose pass, his low shot was only parried by Ramsdale, and Martinelli was in the right place to tap home his first goal since netting at Stamford Bridge in January 2020.
Lacazette raced through late on and confidently tucked home Partey's pass to bring up his half century - becoming the 10th Arsenal player to the landmark.
Now all thoughts shift to the Europa League.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The big news pre-match was that captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed out through flu, while Gabriel Martinelli came into the side to make his first Premier League start since January.
He was one of five players brought into the side from Thursday's draw against Slavia Prague. Calum Chambers returned at right back, while Pablo Mari partnered Rob Holding in the centre of defence. Granit Xhaka moved to left back to complete the back four.
Dani Ceballos came in for the injured Emile Smith Rowe while Nicolas Pepe replaced Willian, with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line once again, and wearing the armband.
WHAT IT MEANS
We travel to Prague for a huge game in the context of our season. We take on Slavia Prague on Thursday evening in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final, having drawn the first game 1-1, meaning we need to score at least once to progress to the last four.
Premier League football resumes next Sunday, at home to Fulham.
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