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Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah. Alamy Stock Photo

Eddie Nketiah scores hat-trick as 5-star Arsenal thrash Sheffield United

The victory took Arsenal up to second place, two points behind leaders Tottenham.

EDDIE NKETIAH RETURNED to the Arsenal starting line-up with style as the England forward hit a first Premier League hat-trick in a 5-0 win over bottom club Sheffield United.

Mikel Arteta made five changes for the visit of the Blades and it was Nketiah – in for the injured Gabriel Jesus – who proved the difference and ended a memorable afternoon wearing the captain’s armband.

Substitutes Fabio Vieira and Takehiro Tomiyasu wrapped up the points late on with a penalty and a close-range finish respectively on an afternoon where Arsenal’s fringe players took centre-stage.

Sky Sports Premier League / YouTube

Martin Odegaard dropped to the bench in the most eye-catching of Arteta’s alterations, which also saw Emile Smith Rowe make his first league start since May 2022.

The victory took Arsenal up to second place, two points behind leaders and north London rivals Tottenham as Arteta’s men remained unbeaten after 10 league games.

For the Blades, this was a galling afternoon where – once their resolute defence was breached for the first goal just before the half-hour mark – the writing was on the wall.

The travelling fans sang the name of under pressure manager Paul Heckingbottom but they have still yet to see their team win on their return to the top-flight, with just one point on the board.

With Jesus facing a few weeks out with a hamstring issue, Nketiah has once again been tasked with filling his boots as Arsenal’s go-to centre-forward.

His touch and finish for the opening goal proved he can do the job as the England international set the Gunners on their way to a comfortable victory over the rock bottom Blades.

arsenals-takehiro-tomiyasu-second-right-celebrates-with-teammates-scoring-his-sides-fifth-goal-during-the-english-premier-league-soccer-match-between-arsenal-and-sheffield-united-at-emirates-stadi Takehiro Tomiyasu scored Arsenal's fifth. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Wes Foderingham would have expected to be busier in the opening half but he was on hand to push a rasping Gabriel Martinelli strike wide of the post five minutes before the break.

The second goal arrived five minutes after the interval, Foderingham this time flapping at a Bukayo Saka corner with the ball dropping to Nketiah, who arrowed a shot into the top corner. A VAR check for a potential foul on the United goalkeeper failed to save the visitors.

Nketiah, who made his England debut of the bench in 1-0 friendly win over Australia earlier this month, saved the best for last.

Collecting a pass from Smith Rowe, the 24-year-old rifled home from 20 yards to complete his hat-trick.

Saka, captain in the absence of Odegaard and Jesus, was replaced soon after and – to cheers from the home supporters – gave the armband to Nketiah.

Nketiah initially picked up the ball to take a late penalty awarded after a lengthy VAR check by referee Tim Robinson after Vieira had been caught by Oliver Norwood.

But instead Vieira dusted himself down to send Foderingham the wrong way and further extend the lead.

Tomiyasu rounded off the scoring deep into added time after Mohamed Elneny’s flick on from a near-post corner was deflected into the path of the Japan defender.

Elsewhere, Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola claimed his maiden Premier League victory at the 10th time of asking with a 2-1 comeback win over Burnley thanks to a sensational 40-yard lob by Philip Billing and a lengthy video assistant referee call.

While internally Iraola had been under no pressure at Vitality Stadium, the noise externally was growing after the Cherries suffered a late defeat to Wolves last weekend, but they bounced back in style against a relegation rival.

It was Burnley who went ahead in the 11th minute when Charlie Taylor opened his account for the club on his 198th appearance with a sweet strike, but Antoine Semenyo’s fine solo effort ensured it was all square at half-time.

No winner appeared likely in the pouring rain with Clarets goalkeeper James Trafford impressive, but after the visitors gave away possession inside their own half, Billing spotted the England U21 international off his line and chipped the ball home from range.

Bournemouth did require VAR to intervene after Jay Rodriguez found the net late on but – after six minutes of deliberation by David Coote at Stockley Park – it was eventually ruled out for offside to give Bournemouth all three points.

Written by Press Association. 

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