Over the coming 24 hours it will be tempting to cast the £72m Arsenal spent on Nicolas Pépé as a millstone, given the increasing likelihood that they will not be able to afford their primary transfer targets in this window. That is not an unreasonable view but Pépé added crucial value to Mikel Arteta’s side here, emerging from the bench with a hitherto dire game goalless and effectively ensuring it was won within six minutes. Pépé was involved in Bukayo Saka’s opener and then ran through to score a fine second, before a late David McGoldrick strike gave Sheffield United brief hope of their first point.

Ultimately Arsenal deserved the win, although it did nothing to dissuade anyone from the idea they must add drive and fluidity to their midfield. Unless Houssem Aouar, Thomas Partey or another of comparable calibre can somehow be landed by Monday night there will be more tough, attritional afternoons like this.

Related: Arsenal v Sheffield United: Premier League – live!

Continue reading...