Arsenal will be looking to continue their promising start to the Premier League campaign when they host Sheffield United on Sunday.
Arsenal have enjoyed a phenomenal start to the 2020/21 campaign. They have won the Community Shield while winning two of their first three matches in the Premier League. It was followed by a hard-fought win over Liverpool in the EFL Cup Round 4 in midweek.
The Gunners, therefore, will be high on confidence when they take on Sheffield United on Sunday. Mikel Arteta will be desperate for all three points as his side looks to continue their push for the top four places this season. It could also serve as an opportunity for them to get an early headstart over their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who play Manchester United on the same day.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, have gotten off to the poor start to the 2020/21 campaign. They have lost all of their league matches and are yet to win a single game in all competitions, notably getting knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Burnley last month.
As a result, the Blades are joined by Fulham and Burnley in the bottom end of the league table. That said, Sheffield United had an excellent record against Arsenal last season, winning the home game 1-0 before drawing 1-1 in this corresponding fixture.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this highly anticipated Premier League encounter this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta had a lot of key changes in the midweek win over Liverpool, in the Carabao Cup. He is naturally expected to revert those changes, though there may be a few guaranteed starters, including Bernd Leno.
The German was phenomenal in between the sticks and will be hoping for a similar performance this time around. One of our writers has even suggested him as the goalkeeper to go for in the FPL GW4, in our latest episode of The Hard Tackle podcast.
Gabriel Magalhaes has been excellent so one could think he might retain his place in central defence, forming the three-man backline alongside Rob Holding and David Luiz.
It could allow Arteta to deploy Kieran Tierney in his preferred left wing-back role, with Hector Bellerin operating on the opposite flank. It also means, however, that we might not expect either of Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the starting lineup.
Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka are pretty much shoo-in, at the base of Arsenal’s 3-4-3. These two will form that double-pivot, looking to provide the stability and injection of creativity in the middle of the park.
And finally, there should be a complete reshuffle in the attacking unit, with the offensive trifecta of Willian, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replacing the trio of Joe Willock, Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Luiz, Gabriel; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Tierney; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has been unfortunate with his side’s horrible early season form. But, it won’t force the Englishman to make any radical changes to the core of his side that should revolve around the normally reliable back-three of John Egan, Chris Basham and Jack Robinson, who is deputising for the injured Jack O’Connell.
Aaron Ramsdale was Sheffield’s best performer against Leeds United, making some incredible stops. He could be in for an equally busy afternoon this weekend.
Wilder doesn’t have to deal with too many injury-related absentees elsewhere while his team also didn’t play any games in midweek either, with their last fixture being the narrow defeat to Leeds United last weekend.
Therefore, the Blades should persist with the midfield trifecta of John Lundstram, Sander Berge and Ben Osborn, with George Baldock and Enda Stevens operating as wing-backs.
In the attack, Oliver Burke has done a great job of providing that flair in the final third despite failing to find the back of the net. The young attacker should once again get the nod ahead of Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp, although both of these forwards are options in the second half.
Burke should be partnered by David McGoldrick, whose work-rate has served him well so far this season. It means new signing Rhian Brewster may have to wait for his first start for the club.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Lundstram, Berge, Osborn, Stevens; McGoldrick, Burke
1. Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.90
1. Full-Time Scoreline – Arsenal 0-0 Sheffield United @ 11.00
2. Full-Time Result – Draw @ 4.20
- Arsenal have not lost a Premier League home game in 2020, a run of 10 matches since defeat by Chelsea on 29 December (W8, D2).
- Arsenal are also unbeaten in their last 40 home league matches against sides starting the day in the relegation zone (W38, D2), with their last such defeat coming against West Ham in April 2007.
- Sheffield United have failed to score in each of their opening three league games for the first time in their history.
- The Blades’ last league win away to one of the established top-six teams was a 2-1 victory at Liverpool in April 1994.
- Since Mikel Arteta took charge in December, Arsenal have lost 18 points from winning positions – more than any other top-flight team in that period.
Player to Watch
This will be an interesting game for both sides but the focus should ideally be on Dani Ceballos as he is one of those players who is capable of breaking down a deep-lying Sheffield United backline.
The Spaniard showcased his quality in the past two matches against Liverpool, providing a real spark in midfield with his movement. His work-rate has also improved under Mikel Arteta so the on-loan Real Madrid midfielder could also play a key role in the second line of press.
However, it is his passing and ability to find defence-threading through balls that could make life difficult for Sheffield United especially with forwards like Aubameyang and Lacazette lurking in the final third.
Arsenal 0-0 Sheffield United
Arsenal have fared really well this season but the Gunners could be in for a shocking result this weekend. Sheffield United are known for their defensive solidity and though it hasn’t worked for them this season, facing a team like Arsenal, who have very little creativity when in possession, could be an opportunity for Wilder’s men regain their mojo. So we are expecting a goalless draw.