Arsenal won a dramatic FA Cup quarter-final away to Sheffield United on Sunday, to book a date at Wembley next month.
After two disappointing results against Sheffield United earlier in the season, Arsenal fans had good reason to feel a bit tentative about their chances playing away to the Blades in the FA Cup quarter-final.
Mikel Arteta’s side came out the stronger of the two in the first half, however. They eventually took the lead through a Nicolas Pepe penalty and had a couple of chances to extend it.
The hosts put the pressure on in the second half, and they found a late goal through David McGoldrick. But Arsenal quickly rallied, and substitute Dani Ceballos squeezed in an injury-time winner. Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Emi Martinez 7.5 – Once again, Martinez made a few important saves, and his distribution was good too. Perhaps he even had a little bit too much faith in his ability to play out, but it mostly went well and helped the team out.
- Shkodran Mustafi 7.5 – A little shaky at first, but he grew into the game. Won nine aerial duels and made eight clearances in a very busy game at the back. Not much he could’ve done about the ball bouncing off him to goalscorer McGoldrick.
- David Luiz 7 – Was playing well enough for the first 54 minutes, but then he picked up an injury. It doesn’t seem like much is going his way right now.
- Sead Kolasinac 7 – A poor clearance leading to a goal took the shine off an otherwise committed performance from Kolasinac.
Midfield and Wing-Backs
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 8 – Back out on the right, Maitland-Niles did very well defensively (four tackles, one interception) and in the individual duels (won seven out of eight, completed two of two dribbles). Played a couple of slack passes but otherwise did well.
- Granit Xhaka 7.5 – Like Maitland-Niles, played a few lazy passes to concede possession when he shouldn’t have, but did a good job shielding the defence and blocking a couple of shots. Arsenal remain much better with him in the team, even with the mistakes.
- Joe Willock 7 – Continues to show his considerable strengths as a ball carrier, though he didn’t quite get the final pass or finish right on the day.
- Kieran Tierney 7.5 – After his solid performance in what was effectively a back-three against Southampton, Tierney did well in a wing-back role this time. Put a few dangerous crosses in and had a decent shot of his own.
- Nicolas Pepe 8.5 – By far the outstanding player in the first half, and still a threat in the second, this was another encouraging display from Pepe. As well as his penalty goal, he forced one good save from Dean Henderson and just narrowly missed the target with another shot from a cut-back. The hosts struggled to handle him.
- Alexandre Lacazette 7 – Won the penalty and created a couple of chances, but didn’t even have a shot in an extremely quiet performance in front of goal.
- Bukayo Saka 8 – Another strong performance in another position for the teenager. He played at wing-back in midweek, midfield against Brighton and right-wing against City, but this time he was on the left-wing. He had a few good moments but the best was in the build-up to the winning goal, turning away from pressure, playing a good pass and making a smart run to open up the space.
- Rob Holding 7.5 – Holding is turning into a bit of a clearance machine at the moment, making five on this occasion after his eight at the weekend. Only two players across both teams combined in 90 minutes made more than Holding did in 36. Did miss a header in the build-up to the equaliser, though.
- Eddie Nketiah 7.5 – Did well to pick out Pepe on the counter-attack leading to the winning goal. Also won three free-kicks to buy Arsenal time and get them up the field.
- Dani Ceballos 8 – I don’t think there’s any denying that goal was his biggest moment in an Arsenal shirt so far. He also managed to put Oliver McBurnie off on a few set pieces, drawing a free-kick when the striker threw him to the floor in anger. A very solid cameo appearance.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos N/A – His first minutes on the pitch following football’s restart and his recent injury. Only really came on to waste time and throw an extra body in the box to defend any set-pieces in the final moments.