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Sheffield United logo
Premier League | Gameweek 27
Mar 4, 2024 at 8pm UK
Bramall Lane
Arsenal logo

Sheff Utd
0 - 6
Arsenal


Bogle (29')
FT(HT: 0-5)
Odegaard (5'), Bogle (13' og.), Martinelli (15'), Havertz (25'), Rice (39'), White (58')

Awesome Arsenal are scoring for fun - does Mikel Arteta need another striker?

Awesome Arsenal are scoring for fun - does Mikel Arteta need another striker?
© Reuters
As Arsenal shatter goalscoring records left, right and centre, Sports Mole concludes whether the Gunners really need to sign another striker in the summer.

Shades of the January 2022 transfer window arose for gruntled Gooners over the winter. Two years ago, pleas for the chequebook to be opened on a new attacking talisman fell on deaf ears, Dusan Vlahovic donned the black and white of Juventus, and Mikel Arteta's men missed out on Champions League football.

Fast-forward to 2024, and the number-nine debate remains the hot-button transfer topic at Emirates Stadium, as despite talk of an audacious move for Brentford's Ivan Toney and Napoli's Victor Osimhen - two players who will certainly be on the move this summer - Arteta and sporting director Edu kept faith with their current offensive options.

Treading the Financial Fair Play line after last summer's £200m cash-splashing spree no doubt played a significant part in Arsenal's quiet January, but unlike in 2022 - where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left in acrimonious circumstances and Alexandre Lacazette's powers waned - nets are rippling at a record-breaking rate.

Even the glass-half-full Sheffield United fan may have resigned themselves to another Bramall Lane lashing on Monday, as Chris Wilder's basement boys hosted the free-scoring Gunners on the back of conceding a horrendous 15 goals in their last three home games, five at a time to Brighton & Hove Albion (twice) and Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, their capital counterparts had never won a Premier League away game by six goals or more by the time that the fireworks for 2024 were set alight. Just three months into the New Year, Arteta's men have already achieved that feat on two occasions.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the match on March 4, 2024© Reuters

Heritage was written for both Arsenal and English football on Monday evening, as the Gunners - who in recent times have been lambasted for failing to add to a one-goal lead - beat Sheffield United to a pulp in a spellbinding first-half display, where Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz and Gabriel Martinelli shared the goals around.

Jayden Bogle back-heeling the ball into his own net also contributed to the harrowing rout, as Arsenal notched five goals in the first half of a top-flight away game for the first time in their glittering history and looked capable of scoring every time they charged the beleaguered Blades backline.

The Gunners' yearning for more did not let up in the second half, when Ben White's crisp left-footed finish rubber-stamped another resounding road success, seeing Arsenal become the first team in England's top four tiers to ever win three straight away fixtures by a five-goal margin or more and just the second to hit at least five goals in the same stretch of matches, following in the footsteps of 1961-62 Burnley.

Liverpool and Manchester City may still be keeping Arteta's men in the bronze medal position, but not even the top two cannot match Arsenal's unparalleled tally of 68 goals - their highest total after 27 games of a Premier League season - and a +45 goal difference is also the best record of its kind in the division.

Deservedly racking up the plaudits for their diligent defensive work - conceding a league-low 23 goals and allowing an average of just 0.31 Expected Goals (xG) in their seven-match Premier League winning run - Arsenal's rejuvenated offensive performances beg the question whether the powers-that-be need to pursue a fresh face in the final third this summer.

Gooners' appeals for attacking reinforcements were unsurprisingly at their loudest during a dismal stretch of form either side of Christmas, where Arteta masterminded just one win in seven games from December 9 to January 7 and celebrated a paltry five goals in that sequence.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates after the match on February 11, 2024© Reuters

It was not for the want of trying for Arsenal, who memorably had 30 shots and 77 touches in the West Ham box - the most for a team without scoring in a Premier League game - in their 2-0 loss to the Hammers, before firing 18 attempts on goal without success in their identical FA Cup defeat to Liverpool.

However, after spending several days in a warm-weather training camp in Dubai - where the sun is evidently brimming with goalscoring vitamins - an Arsenal side previously bereft of attacking confidence and a clinical edge matched that aforementioned five-goal tally in just one 90-minute period against Crystal Palace.

Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Burnley and now Sheffield United have also had their doors blown open by Arteta's charges, who boast an astounding 31 goals from seven Premier League games in 2024 and hit the 300-mark in Arteta's 161st top-flight game in charge; only Manuel Pellegrini, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp took a shorter time to achieve a treble-century of goals in the competition.

Speaking to the press after the game, Arteta was adamant that his players could never be fully "satisfied" in the Premier League, and the Spaniard's team - who put six past Sheffield United exactly a year on from Reiss Nelson's heroic winner against Bournemouth - certainly have the feel of a unit who will show no mercy to any foe, in any game, at any level.

Several factors have played their part in helping to banish Arsenal's demons in front of goal. The Gunners may not have made one of their dead-ball sequences count on Monday, but their set-piece supremacy remains unrivalled in the Premier League, making the net bulge 18 times from such situations.

Despite being forced to bow out at half time due to illness and failing to score for the sixth Premier League game in a row, the perpetually-targeted Bukayo Saka arguably benefitted from the winter break more than anyone and set up another two goals at Bramall Lane, reaching the 50-assist mark for his club and being directly involved in a goal for the eighth Premier League game running.

Kai Havertz celebrates scoring for Arsenal on December 17, 2023© Reuters

Havertz - a man who has never really found his true calling in the English capital - may finally be repaying Arteta's faith with three goals and two assists in his last three Premier League games, while six of Martinelli's 10 top-flight contributions this term have come since the winter hiatus.

With Gabriel Jesus not the same player he was before his World Cup knee injury and Eddie Nketiah - still capable of the odd purple patch - now consigned to the fringes again, the centre-forward debate remains a relevant one, but 10-goal Belgian Leandro Trossard and captain Odegaard - ever reliable with his left-footed sizzlers into the bottom corner - pack a mean punch too.

Seventeen senior Gunners have already found the mark in the 2023-24 season, and it is not only in the final third where Arsenal's transfer dilemmas lie. Midfield trio Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Jorginho could all depart, and unless Karl Hein and Arthur Okonkwo are deemed ready for the next step, a new goalkeeper must be sought if Aaron Ramsdale has had enough of playing second fiddle to David Raya.

Takehiro Tomiyasu, Jurrien Timber and Oleksandr Zinchenko will bolster Arsenal's defensive ranks upon their returns from injury, but with Jakub Kiwior currently having to deputise at full-back - albeit to increasingly good effect - William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes are extremely short of cover in the heart of defence.

Edu did not win the Best European Director Award at the 2023 Golden Boy ceremony for nothing, and the former Arsenal Invincible will no doubt keep his eyes peeled for the right attacking opportunity. Those still crying out for a new striker may justifiably point towards the Gunners' toothless Champions League display in their 1-0 loss to Porto, while also highlighting the known frailties of Burnley and Sheffield United at the back.

However, if the goals continue to fly in from a variety of sources and a variety of methods as the weather warms up, finding a fresh face to operate at the tip of the attack should not be priority number one for the Gunners this summer, whether they are planning a Premier League title parade or not.

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How you voted: Sheff Utd vs Arsenal

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Arsenal
84.6%
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Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli is helped off the pitch after sustaining an injury on March 4, 2024
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