Soccer-Arsenal hit Sheffield United for six to keep pace with leaders


Soccer Football - Premier League - Sheffield United v Arsenal - Bramall Lane, Sheffield, Britain - March 4, 2024 Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus in action with Sheffield United's Vinicius Souza and Jack Robinson REUTERS/Carl Recine

SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) -Arsenal matched their biggest Premier League away win with a 6-0 pummelling of Sheffield United on Monday after scoring five times in the first half when they tore the home side apart and have closed within two points of leaders Liverpool.

Mikel Arteta's team are third with 61 points after 27 games, a point behind Manchester City but with a much better goal difference than their title rivals. The Blades remain rooted to the bottom on 13 points, 11 adrift of the safety zone.

The Gunners are the first Premier league team with seven wins in a row this season and appear to be gaining momentum at just the right time to keep the pressure on the top two.

"A great performance and a big result for us again with the amount of goals we scored and the clean sheet," said delighted Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

"The team shows signs of wanting more, very positive. The energy is really good at the moment. When you are winning everything is easier, we have to maintain momentum now."

Arsenal were ruthless as they sliced through United's defence with ease from the start. Captain Martin Odegaard opened the floodgates with his fifth-minute goal, firing home from the middle of the box after a cute cutback from Declan Rice.

There was more misery to come for United goalkeeper Ivo Grbic on a night that saw six different names on the scoresheet.

Jayden Bogle put through his own goal in the 13th before Gabriel Martinelli struck two minutes later, sending scores of weary United fans to the Bramall Lane exits, while Kai Havertz (25th minute), Rice (39), and Ben White (58) also netted.

"We won 6-0 today and recently we've won a lot, but the work we do without the ball from the front to the goalkeeper is really good and it's a pleasure to be a part of," said Odegaard.

EARLY FIREWORKS

Arsenal's early fireworks had the 9-0 Premier League scoring record looking in jeopardy, but Blades fans were spared more misery partly due to Arteta's substitutions including forward Bukayo Saka heading to the bench after an excellent 45 minutes.

Arsenal were denied a seventh goal thanks to an excellent save from Grbic who batted away a curling shot from substitute Gabriel Jesus that looked destined for the far corner.

They matched their best Premier League away win set in the 6-0 rout of West Ham United on Feb. 11 and record six-goal away victory margin in a 7-1 top flight win over Aston Villa in 1935.

The Gunners did make history on Monday though by becoming the first English side to win three consecutive away matches by a margin of five or more goals.

They also became only the second English team to score at least five goals in three successive top flight away matches after Burnley in September 1961.

United have lost their last four games at Bramall Lane in all competitions having conceded 21 goals and scored two.

Coach Chris Wilder said it had been a painful season for his "damaged group of players. They've had to take some big hits.

"(Arsenal) cut us wide open, they are doing that to a lot of teams, I'm not saying that makes us feel better because that is another long night for this club.

"Saka took us to pieces down that (right) side, whatever you need to do you have to try and stem the tide, especially when they are in full flow.

"We didn't have an answer to anything they had. The result is what the result is and we have to live with it."

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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