A fantastic Eddie Nketiah hat-trick laid the platform for us to earn all three points in a dominant win over Sheffield United.
The England man opened the scoring with a deft turn and finish inside the box in the first-half, but better was to come after the interval. First he rammed into the roof of the net when a corner fell nicely to him inside the area, and he rounded off his hat-trick with a stunning 20-yard drive inside the hour mark.
There was still time for Fabio Vieira to win and then tuck away a penalty late on, then in injury-time Takehiro Tomiyasu netted his first goal for the club, on his 50th Premier League appearance for us, as we extended our unbeaten start to the Premier League season to ten games.
Patience pays off
Patience was very much the watchword in the opening 20 minutes. As expected, Sheffield United – with just one point from their opening nine games – set up in defensive mode, and we couldn’t find a way through their low block early on.
Our first real sight of goal came when a searching early pass from David Raya released Gabriel Martinelli on the left. The Brazilian worked his way cleverly into the box, and laid his pass off to Bukayo Saka when he might have elected to shoot instead. Saka – captaining the side for the first time - was crowded out as he attempted to get his shot away.
Our first shot on target, just before the half hour mark, produced the opening goal. Declan Rice threaded a pass into a crowded penalty area where Nketiah expertly took the ball in his instep, turned past former Gunner Auston Trusty, then calmly rolled the ball home. It was the undoubted highlight of the half, a moment of brilliance from our No. 14.
We continued to dominate possession. Martinelli drew a flying save from Wes Foderingham after shifting the ball from left foot to right just inside the box – and firing towards the top corner.
In truth though much of the opening half was played out at a fairly sedate pace, and we were restricted to just five attempts on goal.
Eddie completes his hat-trick
We upped the ante considerably in the second half. Just five minutes after the restart, we doubled the lead when a half-cleared corner fell to Nketiah in the box. He picked his spot and rifled a shot into the top corner.
There was a VAR check, as the officials seemed keen to ensure there was absolutely no reason to disallow the goal, before play eventually resumed.
Within a few minutes of the restart, Nketiah completed his hat-trick with an absolute screamer. Emile Smith Rowe, making his first start in the league since the season before last, rolled the ball to his fellow Hale End graduate outside the area. The striker took a touch and unleashed a rasper into the top corner.
It’s the second hat-trick of his Gunners career, and the first time any player has claimed the matchball for us since Nketiah himself scored three against Sunderland back in December 2021.
We were playing with a spring in our step now, and the Emirates faithful responded by lifting the atmosphere.
Late goals add gloss
As time began to run out, and with the points safe, Mikel Arteta – who had made five changes to his starting line up for the game – was afforded the luxury of making a host of substitutions.
One of those replacements, Vieira, won and converted a penalty late on. It was only awarded after a lengthy VAR review for a foul by Oliver Norwood just inside the box, but up stepped the Portuguese midfielder to roll home from 12 yards for his first of the season.
Another of the second-half subs, Tomiyasu, made it five in injury-time. A corner fell to him close to goal, and the defender reacted quickly to poke it home in front of the delighted North Bank.
Stats and facts
We have won our last three Premier League games against Sheffield United - the first time we've won three consecutive league games against the Blades since a run of six between March 1975 and September 1991.
We are unbeaten after 10 games of a Premier League season for the first time since 2007/08, while we've only had more than our current 24 points after 10 games on four occasions in the competition, in 2004/05 (25), 2007/08 (26), 2013/14 (25) and 2022/23 (27).
We have kept consecutive home clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since December 2021 (4), as many as we managed in their previous 15 such games at the Emirates beforehand.
Eddie Nketiah is the first Arsenal player to score a Premier League hat-trick since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang against Leeds United in February 2021 and the first Englishman to do since Theo Walcott against West Brom in May 2015.
Nketiah became the 22nd different hat-trick scorer in the Premier League for Arsenal, We have more unique hat-trick scorers than any other team in the competition.
We have had four different penalty scorers in the Premier League this season (Odegaard, Saka, Havertz, Vieira), our most in a single campaign since 2008/09 (Eboue, Adebayor, van Persie, Bendtner).
Takehiro Tomiyasu became the first ever Asian player to score a Premier League goal for Arsenal.
We’re back in Carabao Cup action on Wednesday, when we face West Ham at the London Stadium in the fourth round, and resume our Premier League campaign next weekend, taking on Newcastle United at St James Park on Saturday.
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