The next Premier League game for the Gunners is Arsenal vs Sheffield when they host Chris Wilder’s side at the Emirates.
Sheffield United surprised many Premier League fans in their first season in the top flight with their competitive spirit and solid performances as they staked their claim for regular premiership football. Chris Wilder has assembled a decent side that have caused some upsets but the second season sometimes proves to be more difficult than the first.
Having lost recently to both Leeds United and Aston Villa, it’s easy to note what their current problems are. They cannot retain the ball with only 28% possession during the Villa game, increasing to 36% against Leeds but they are also struggling in front of the goal. They commit a lot of fouls which allows teams the opportunity to score goals from set-pieces but, at least they aren’t shipping goals in defence.
Sheffield United meet an in-form and determined Arsenal, who have two wins out of three leaving them in fifth place, while Wilder’s United are yet to get off the mark and are second from bottom. Don’t let that fool you, they will make it tight and uncomfortable with a physical element to their game.
Sheffield will try to rush and harass Arsenal to disrupt any creative rhythm and in the first 45 minutes, the hosts will need to display patience and maximum concentration. The Gunners will need to be clinical because this could hinge on just one goal as have their previous two outings (Villa and Leeds) in the Premier League.
Sheffield will be compact and organised, a tough nut to crack but Arsenal bring pace in abundance, as long as they can get the supply lines operating. The visitors will also have to avoid giving away cheap free-kicks around the box because Willian will fancy anything just outside.
Expect Aubameyang to make up for his disappearance in the league game against Liverpool, where he had hardly any service at all. What is it they say about sleeping lions? I expect the Gunners to inflict more damage on the Blades and that they can wrap the Arsenal vs Sheffield game up by the 80th minute with two goals.
I’d go with Willian over Pepe for the Arsenal vs Sheffield encounter, with Lacazette and Aubameyang as his partners. The middle is more intriguing although Ceballos and Xhaka seem a safe bet, which begs the question – Saka and Bellerin or Kolasinac or Cedric?
I’d plump for the first two, which only leaves us with the back three to contemplate. Gabriel’s assured performance against Liverpool should see him retain his place if Tierney isn’t 100%, with Luiz in the middle and Holding on the right.
Let’s hope Leno continues his world-class form to thwart any of Sheffield’s best efforts but I’m not too worried because the visitors have offered little up front so far in this campaign. It’s something that Wilder will need to conclude in the transfer window as well as a tried and trusted midfield performer and a left-sided wing-back.
That’s all too late for the Arsenal vs Sheffield clash and any last-minute additions for Arsenal will not make the cut either, so it’s a case of running with what already exists for both sides and I believe that Arsenal are in good shape for this contest.
Preferred Side: Leno; Holding, Luiz, Gabriel; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Probable Side: Leno; Holding, Luiz, Gabriel; Cedric, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Predicted Score: 2-0 Arsenal win.
*No new injury concerns at the time this blog was written