#EmiratesFACup: Four things we noticed


A last-gasp winner from Dani Ceballos saw us book our place in the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday. 

But what did we learn from our trip to Bramall Lane? Read on to find out... 


"He's a kid with an incredible attitude... he has a massive heart." Those are just a couple of the compliments that Mikel Arteta paid to Kieran Tierney after Sunday's win, and no wonder. The Scotland international was cramping up at the end of a big shift at Southampton but he was back to put in another proper stint at Bramall Lane. Indeed, Tierney's role was more expansive for this cup tie, effectively in the role Saka filled at St Mary's - stoic defence mixed with regular forward bursts on the left. Much of his best early work was on the defensive front but it was Tierney's crisp pass into Lacazette's feet that helped win us a penalty (awarded by another Tierney, referee Paul). After that he was involved in much of our best play: a shot that flew just wide, a clever dummy away from a defender, neat interplay with Saka and a perfect low ball into Pepe that almost led to a goal. Even in the final moments, Tierney was a ball of energy on the left. And, excitingly, there's much more to come: "He is going to get better and better and better," said Arteta.



The last player to score an FA Cup penalty for us? It was none other than Mikel Arteta, whose spot-kick helped us past his former club Everton at the quarter-final stage of the 2014 competition - one we went on to win. Pepe had to wait a while to take his penalty at Bramall Lane after lengthy treatment for Alex Lacazette, but he didn't waver and found the bottom-right corner with power and precision. Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson appeared to have done his homework: he didn't commit to a dive, perhaps expecting Pepe to reprise his only other penalty for us, which he placed more centrally against Aston Villa. By the time Henderson realised that wasn't happening, he was too late to do anything about it. Our record signing has now been involved in 16 goals for us this season, eight goals and eight assists. Only Auba has had a hand in more.



Drinks breaks and extra substitutions are making games a fair bit longer. On Sunday we had seven minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, and that was pretty much unheard of in the old normal. But actually the first-half interlude worked in our favour. Before the drinks break we'd been on the back foot, struggling to find the movement and tempo required to stretch a Sheffield United side that was unlucky not to be ahead. Enter Arteta. He got his message across, made the required adjustments, and we were much more effective in the remainder of the first half. Tierney and Pepe were especially lively as, for the first time in the game, we forced the home side back.



Mikel Arteta was at pains to recognise the contribution our substitutes made in our win at Southampton on Thursday, and it was the same story on Sunday. Our head coach freshened up the side throughout the second half and, ultimately, it was one sub - Eddie Nketiah - who made the decisive pass in the move that ended with Dani Ceballos scoring that last-gasp winner. That was actually our only shot on target in the second half, and Ceballos' smart finish was also our latest Emirates FA Cup goal since Alexis scored a 101st-minute winner against Manchester City in the semi-finals back in April 2017.


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