For a moment there was a glimpse of good old Arsenal. Passes buzzed in the feet around the edge of the penalty area, there was a blur of movement, a deft move from Dani Ceballos and Sheffield United fell open, cut in half.
Alexandre Lacazette applied a confident finish leading his teammates to a corner flag for a party and as the camera turned to the sidelines you almost expected Arsene Wenger to fight with the zip of his jacket.
It was a reminder of the fluid attacking football they regularly produced on the red and white side of North London during the time competing for the biggest prizes in the game.
Alexandre Lacazette enjoys his first goal to put Arsenal on their way against Sheffield United
The French forward completes a smooth team move to score the opener with 33 minutes played
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Ramsdale 6; Ampadu 5, Egan 5, Stevens 5; Baldock 5, Lundstram 5, Norwood 5, Fleck 5.5, Osborn 5; McGoldrick 5 (Brewster 64.5), Burke 5 (McBurnie 64.5 (Mousset 83)).
Subs: Foderingham, Ndiaye, Bryan, Bogle, Jagielka, Lowe.
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom 5
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno 6; Chambers 6, Holding 6, Mari 6, Xhaka 6; Partey 6.5, Ceballos 7; Pepe 6.5, Saka 7.5 (Willian 69, 6.5), Martinelli 7.5 (Elneny 83); Lacazette 8 (Elneny).
Subs: Ryan, Azeez, Bellerin, Gabriel, William, Cedric, Nelson, Nketiah.
Goals: Lacazette 2, Martinelli
Manager: Mikel Arteta 7
Ref: Peter Bankes 6
And it put Mikel Arteta’s team on a welcome victory, their first since winning a local skirmish with Tottenham almost a month ago.
Gabriel Martinelli tapped in in the second and Lacazette made it 3-0, but a comfortable win against a team that surrendered weeks ago and are doomed to return to the championship offers little evidence of better times for Arteta.
There is still a lot of work to be done. Three much-needed points against a team on the slide, however, lift Arsenal to ninth place.
They refuse to give up the idea of qualifying for European football through their league position, although they will likely complete their worst Premier League campaign since 1995, the era before Wenger.
A truer test of character, and a more viable route back to Europe, comes Thursday in the Czech Republic in the away game of their Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague.
In the coming days there will be concerns about the fitness of Bukayo Saka, who limped with what appeared to be a dead leg after a nice performance on Bramall Lane.
Youngsters Saka and Martinelli were among those who shone for Arsenal, who traveled to the snow gusts and icy blasts of South Yorkshire without their captain, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who was ill.
Also absent were Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odergaard, and with Kieran Tierney injured, Granit Xhaka was brought in in an unknown role as a left back.
Saka was operating in the number 10 position behind Lacazette and buzzed with energy from the start.
Saka fired the first shot of the match and Martinelli flickered on the left causing trouble for George Baldock and Ethan Ampadu.
Once Arsenal got into their rhythm, they controlled the first half. Ramsdale kept them at bay for a while.
The Blades goalkeeper stormed out of his penalty area to thwart Martinelli and saved a deviated attempt by the Brazilian teenager.
Calum Chambers and Martinelli saw shots blocked as pressure increased and Lacazette broke through 12 minutes before half time.
He tapped a firm pass to Thomas Partey who first pinged the ball back to Ceballos, who slid it into his skipper’s path with a neat tap.
Gabriel Martinelli added a goal from close range after half time to make life comfortable for Arsenal
Martinelli is congratulated by substitute Willian after scoring his first goal since January 2020
Lacazette pushed the shot low past Ramsdale and Sheffield United never really seemed to come back. They offered very little as an attack threat in the first half.
David McGoldrick shot wide in the opening minutes and there were brief moments of hope through set pieces or when Arsenal nearly overplayed their way out of defense, but otherwise little to encourage caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom.
The Blades performed with more purpose and urgency immediately after the break, but any hope of a revival vanished when Martinelli scored the second, 19 minutes from time.
John Lundstram’s careless pass passed the ball to Nicolas Pepe, who carried the ball forward and went on goal.
Lacazette escapes and confidently shoots past Aaron Ramsdale to make it 3-0 for Arsenal
Mikel Arteta watches as the squad returned to winning ways ahead of the tough Europa League trip
Ramsdale saved the low shot, but could only gently push it towards Martinelli who tapped the opportunity into an open net. Lacazette completed the score, another cool finish after shooting Partey’s fantastic pass from midfield.
It was his 13th Premier League goal this season and 10 of them were scored away from home. The French forward also became the 10th player to score 50 in the Premier League for Arsenal.
Sheffield United are 18 points from safety with only seven games to play. They could be out of their misery by next weekend.
Sportsmail provided live coverage of Sheffield United vs Arsenal, including all build-up, team news and in-game updates.