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A Trip To Sheffield United Is An Early Season Must Win for Arsenal – Match Preview


Arsenal are set to resume their Premier League campaign with a visit Bramall Lane as they visit newly promoted Sheffield United. In the past, matches against newly promoted sides were welcomed as it was most certainly a match that would go into the win column. However, in this new era and one of Arsenal’s poor away form, a win is anything but a certainty.

The Gunners need to begin to find some form and some consistency of play. They’ve not yet played a match in the league where they’ve looked convincing. You have matches with one half of solid play, another half of poor play.

You might get a match of all poor play. Whatever the scenario, Arsenal haven’t really looked like an Arsenal side. Arsenal are side who through the early season are playing with no style, flair or structure and their labored efforts are beginning to be exposed by mediocre opposition on a weekly basis.

A Worthy Opponent

As the Gunners look to light a fire to their season, they’d be foolish to look past Sheffield United.

Chris Wilder has his team believing in his system of play and its working quite effectively. They’ve opted for hard working 3-5-2 with a defensive unit that is comfortable being off the ball with regularity. They stick to playing with a compact midfield and rigid defensive lines.

They also will exhibit a high work rate especially in the midfield as they look to deny the many on the ball time and space to make an effective pass.

Strategically they like to employ a high press. With a 3-5-2, Wilder uses his two strikers to effectively deny their opposition the ability to play out of the back. With midfielders, wingers and sometimes a fullback added to the press, the Blades look to suffocate the opposition and force mistakes high up the pitch.

Attacking wise, Arsenal need to be prepared for a direct attacking team with two strikers looking to occupy the back line trying to beat them on the turn.

Why is all this necessary to point out? Because the Blades have become very proficient at everything Arsenal tend to struggle with.

Abandoning Pragmatism

 If there has been one frustration wit Unai Emery this season, it has been his pragmatic approach especially on the road to lesser opposition.

Additionally, there has been frustration to maintaining a desire to play out of the back when the opposition (and our own poor technical quality) render the tactic useless.

Facing a team with 3 at the back, Emery should be looking to use his attack to get into the space behind the wingbacks with the midfielders offering support. He has to abandon the exclusive and predictable pattern of bypassing our midfield for strictly playing it up the wide channels.

Emery also must find a balance in his squad, especially in the midfield. We rightly want to point to the mistakes individual defenders are making but a lot of them are happening because they are forced into situations that could be avoided if there was true defensive cover in front of them.

The positives for Arsenal are that they still have abundance of talent and they are getting back key players who can help solidify things, especially in the defensive side of the game. How and when they are integrated back remains to be seen but it is expected that the likes of Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding could play starting roles in this match. Both would be a tremendous boost.

An Early Season Must Win

With the likes of Tottenham and United stuttering and Chelsea going through their own fits of growth, Arsenal have an opportunity to close distance to the top of the table rather than the middle of it.

They are in need of a moment that ignites a stop-start season and carries them on until the heart of the competition in the winter months. This match, needs to be that moment.

YAMA Predicts

Sheffield United 1 – 2 Arsenal

What The Head Coach Is Saying (courtesy

It really is amazing their performance with the manager and the atmosphere in Sheffield. They are playing a lot of playing who have come up from the Championship and have had good performances since the start of the season. They’re a difficult team and they have a big motivation playing this season in the Premier League. and giving good performances. With their supporters, they are going to push us a lot but we’re ready and we’re going to prepare for the match as well as possible. It’s a big challenge in each match and for the three points. We want to give our supporters there a good 90 minutes, and also try to win the game.

Arsenal Record vs Sheffield United (League Only)

 2W 1L 3D

Last 5

 Arsenal: DDWDW

Sheffield United: DLWLD

Goals Scored (Average per game)

 Arsenal: 1.25 (away)

Sheffield United: 0.50 (home)

Goals Conceded (average per game)

Arsenal: 1.5 (away)

Sheffield United: 1.00 (home)

Match Officials

Referee: Mike Dean. 

Assistants: Darren Cann, Dan Robathan.

Fourth official: Simon Hooper.

VAR: Andre Marriner.

Assistant VAR: Neil Davies.

Match Facts (courtesy

  • Arsenal are winless in their three away league games since beating Newcastle on the opening weekend.
  • Under Unai Emery, the Gunners have kept just two clean sheets in 23 away Premier League matches (1-0 wins at Watford and Newcastle).
  • The Gunners have won their last seven Premier League games in Yorkshire – the longest winning run by an away side in the county in English top-flight history.
  • Arsenal have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League matches on a Monday (W8, D2), a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in April 2017.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored four of Arsenal five away goals in the league this season.
  • Arsenal have lost just three of their last 26 matches against Sheffield United in all competitions.
  • However, the Blades are unbeaten in their last four top-flight home games against Arsenal since a 2-0 loss in April 1991 (W1, D3).
  • The sides have not met in the league since 2006, but Arsenal have since won two League Cup ties since then, with an aggregate score of 9-0.


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