Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta causes fury in 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield United | Football | Sport


Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta prompted an angry response during their one-sided thrashing of Sheffield United on Monday night – from Fantasy Premier League managers! Arteta withdrew Bukayo Saka at half-time when the Gunners were 5-0 up at Bramall Lane, with the forward not on the scoresheet despite the rout.

Arsenal thrashed the Blades in the first half, a 45 minutes dubbed by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher as “one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen”. Saka struck the bar within the first two minutes for the visitors who led 1-0 three minutes later through Martin Odegaard.

Saka helped make it 2-0 quickly after when Jayden Bogle accidentally turned the England international’s cross into his own net. It was 4-0 after just 25 minutes following efforts from Gabriel Martinelli and Kai Havertz.

Sheffield United supporters left Bramall Lane in their scores having already watched their team concede five goals in their three previous matches at the same stadium. And Saka helped himself to a second assist in the 39th minute, pulling back for Declan Rice to stroke into the far corner.

But much to the frustration of FPL managers, Saka – who was the second most-captained player of game-week 27 behind Manchester City’s Erling Haaland – was taken off at the interval. It later emerged he was withdrawn because he felt sick during the match.

The winger had racked up seven points at the time but despite his brace of assists, was not among the players poised to pick up bonus points. Haaland returned six points (12 for those who captained him) and those who handed the armband to Saka were dreaming of a major haul.

Rapper Stormzy was among them. He posted pre-match on his @fplstormz X account: “Saka captainers… tonight we eat.” He later wrote after his withdrawal: “1 point more than halaand, yh f*** it i’ll take it.”

Saka returned 14 points for those who picked him as captain over the likes of Haaland, Ollie Watkins and Son Heung-min. Arsenal went on to score again through Ben White in the second half and ended up recording a 6-0 victory over Sheffield United.

Despite not scoring, Saka is up to 16 goals and 15 assists in 35 appearances in what has been a remarkable campaign. The right-sided forward managed 15 goals and 11 assists in 48 outings in the entirety of last season.

Pre-match, though, Arteta had said the Arsenal academy graduate can still take it up a few levels. The Spanish coach said: “He can become much better. I think he can get in better positions still. His finishing, especially with certain surfaces, has to improve and his timing as well. So he can do better.”

With Saka having scored just once in 11 games in October and November, Arteta added: “Players have moments. You can analyse just the attacking stats or the goals or assists. Then you make the judgement because of that, that’s it. But his overall play, contribution and the way he was affecting the game was still really high.

“Is he now being more efficient? The answer is yes. The impact he’s had in the last seven or eight games has been really good. I’m really happy to have a player in form.”

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