Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1
Martinelli 45, Fleck 83

Gabriel Martinelli scored Arsenal's first half opener at the Emirates stadium, but  Sheffield United’s never say die attitude saw them come back for a leveller seven minutes from time through John Fleck for a share of the spoils. The Blades have now taken four points off the Gunners and sit three places above them in the Premier League table, four points better off too. Mikel Arteta has urged his players to step up their fitness and they have come out flying in recent games against Chelsea and Manchester United. However Arteta has seen a return of just one Premier League win in the five matches since his first game in charge at Bournemouth on Boxing Day. The Gunners head coach expressed his disappointment on an afternoon where Arsenal should have upped their game.

"I'm very disappointed today. I think the performance deserved three points and I think we lost two points. In the Premier League, if you don't put the game to bed then in the last 10 or 15 minutes this type of team just need a long ball, a second ball, a set-piece, and you can give the points away. That's it. It makes it even more. In the Premier League we are 1-0 up and in the last 10 or 15 minutes you have to be careful, because anything can happen," said Arteta.

Shorn of the services of top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following his straight red card at Crystal Palace last weekend, Arteta entrusted Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil, Nicolas Pepe and Martinelli in attack. But it was Lys Mousset who had two early headers which alerted the Gunners to their visitors intentions, with left back Enda Stevens often finding himself as a winger, giving Ainsley Maitland-Niles much food for thought. Arsenal’s makeshift defence with Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka filling in with David Luiz and the vulnerable Shkodran Mustafi had to be alert to the luminous lime green shirted Blades who started as if they were the home side. Luiz had to bail out Saka twice early on as Ozil seemed to be in an indifferent attacking mode, although he does now track back a lot more than he used to.

Midway through the first half, Arsenal threatened Dean Henderson’s goal. Pepe did well to hold off his marker to put in Martinelli, but the Brazilian struck his effort wide. Lucas Torreira was in the wars with a bloodied nose following a stray elbow from Fleck.Moments earlier his 35 yard drive was gathered by Henderson who was always behind the ball.

When Lacazette and Ozil combined, the Germany playmaker found Saka wide on the left. The 18 year old’s cross looped over the attentions of Henderson and there was Martinelli to steer home the opener and his second Premier League goal of the season.

1-0 to the Arsenal at the break, and Arteta would have had an easier half time team talk than his counterpart Chris Wilder. The Blades were up for the fight any way they could, although George Baldock was fortunate not to see yellow following an elbow to Saka’s face. Seconds later, the Blades defender did receive a yellow card from Mike Dean officiating in his 500th game for a foul on the same player. Dean wasn’t moved however when the driving Pepe was brought to a halt in the box. A VAR check showed he might have got that wrong, but the decision was no penalty.

Granit Xhaka had cleared off his line as United kept on pressing for the leveller and deep into the second half the visitors struck. Substitute Callum Robinson’s cross wasn’t dealt with effectively by Maitland-Niles, the ball fell to Fleck who, surrounded by red shirted defenders, still managed to hit into the ground and beyond Leno to make it 1-1 after 83 minutes.

Arsenal have now dropped 13 points from winning positions as Arteta tries to get a grip on the enormity of the task he has inherited.

“I don’t know what was done before. I think they tried to do the best possible thing. I inherited a tean that was in a difficult situation and we’re tryting to improve it as much as possible. I don’t know. In the second half, Sheffield United didn’t generate any efforts on goal. It’s just one long ball, a second ball and then someone put it in the top bin from an incredible angle. It’s difficult to control it,” said Arteta.

Arsenal next travel to Stamford Bridge for the cross capital derby against Chelsea on Tuesday, while the Blades host reigning Premier League champions Manchester City on the same night.