Mikel Arteta looks to continue the steady improvements made at Arsenal since his appointment as the club’s new head coach last month, the Spaniard facing off this weekend against a Sheffield United side performing above all expectations so far this season.
Here is all you need to know about Saturday’s clash at the Emirates…
Despite results not quite coming on a consistent basis as of yet, there have been sure signs of improvement in the Gunners’ performances since the arrival of the club’s former captain as manager last month.
Already in the earlier showings under Arteta, Arsenal have shown a greater appetite for work-rate and pressing, the Spaniard slowly attempting to implement a new style into a side that has been passive in recent times.
An encouraging display against Chelsea ultimately ended in a late defeat, though an impressive performance in beating Manchester United at the Emirates sparked optimism the new regime can deliver success.
Familiar flaws are still yet to be fully addressed, however, last weekend’s draw at Crystal Palace proving a missed opportunity to secure three points, despite the sending off of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who will miss this weekend’s visit of Sheffield United through suspension.
Currently tenth and a huge 11 points adrift of the top four, Arsenal’s hopes of securing Champions League football seem distant. Establishing a new style and understanding under Arteta should be the club’s priority over the remainder of the season, and the north London side could do worse than look to this weekend’s opponents for inspiration, the Blades having proven the team is of far greater value than the sum of its parts so far this season.
Sheffield United: WLLDW
The Yorkshire side’s brilliant return to the top flight has shown no signs of slowing down, with victory over West Ham last time out moving Chris Wilder’s side up to dizzying heights of sixth in the Premier League.
Defeats at Liverpool and Manchester City in their past five proved reality checks, but there can be no denying that the Blades are thriving and not merely surviving in their first season back at this level.
Wilder’s contract extension earlier this week was a huge positive for the club, the Stocksbridge-native having guided the club from the depths of League One to the top tier in recent seasons.
The 52-year-old continues to extract the best from previously unheralded talents, whilst his unique tactical approach including the now well-documented ‘overlapping centre-backs’ has continued to succeed higher up the footballing pyramid.
Talk of European football would have been outlandish at the start of the season, though few would now bet against Wilder’s well-oiled machine upsetting the odds once more.
Sheffield United 1-0 Arsenal, 21st October 2019
Sheffield United‘s long absence from the Premier League meant it had been over ten years since the last meeting between the two clubs, a 6-0 victory for the Gunners in a League Cup tie in 2008 in which Nicklas Bendtner and a 16-year-old Jack Wilshere were amongst the scorers.
There was no such success for the north London side this time around, however, Unai Emery’s side struggling to deal with the Blades at Bramall Lane as Lys Mousset’s goal secured a famous win.
Victory lifted Chris Wilder’s side into the top half, a position they have maintained ever since.
Predicted Line ups
Arsenal: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Pepe, Nelson, Lacazette
Sheffield United: Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McBurnie, McGoldrick
Who is the referee?
How can I watch Arsenal v Sheffield United?
American readers can watch the game on NBCSN.
What time is kick off?
Arsenal – 4/5
Draw – 13/5
Sheffield United – 10/3