Arsenal will be hoping to return to winning ways when they face off against bottom-feeders Sheffield United in the Premier League this Sunday night.
Arsenal will be aiming to keep their slim hopes of a top-six finish in the 2020/21 Premier League alive when they travel to Bramall Lane to take on relegation battlers Sheffield United in Matchweek 31.
Arsenal are on a torrid run of form, having failed to win any of their last four games in all competitions, most recently being held to a 1-1 draw by Slavia Prague in the Europa League. As things stand, Mikel Arteta’s side are 11th in the Premier League table, ten points off of West Ham in sixth, with chances of a top-six finish looking bleak. But with eight games still left to be played, a good run can put them back in contention.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are all but confirmed to go back down to the EFL Championship after what has been a disappointing campaign on so many levels. The Blades are rooted to the bottom of the table, 15 points below safety and head into Sunday’s game having lost each of their last four games across all competitions, with their latest match ending in a 2-1 defeat to Leeds United.
The reverse fixture saw Arsenal defeat Sheffield United 2-1 courtesy of second-half goals from Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe while David McGoldrick scored the late consolation strike for the Blades. Ahead of their latest meeting this weeknd, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Preparing for Sunday.
Go 'Inside Shirecliffe' as the Blades train ahead of facing Arsenal. 👊
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) April 9, 2021
Sheffield United will once again be without the services of Jack O’Connell, Jack Robinson, Sander Berge as well as captain Billy Sharp. George Baldock and Jayden Bogle are expected to be available after having recovered from their head injuries and trained this week. Chris Basham remains a major doubt for the home team as well.
Interim manager Paul Heckingbottom will set his team up in the usual 3-5-2 formation against Arsenal with Aaron Ramsdale manning the goal. John Egan, Ethan Ampadu and Enda Stevens should form the three-man backline that shields the goalkeeper while Baldock and Ben Osborn take up the wing-back slots from where they will look to provide the width during the attacking phases.
Oliver Norwood will sit the deepest of the three central midfielders and look to disrupt Arsenal’s rhythm. Flanking him will be John Lundstram and John Fleck, who will both look to push upfield during the attacking phases.
The hard-working David McGoldrick should slot in as one of the two centre-forwards while he could be partnered by Oli McBurnie, whose physical approach could come in handy against a nervy Arsenal backline on Sunday night.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Egan, Ampadu, Stevens; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Osborn; McGoldrick, McBurnie
Arsenal, meanwhile, are sweating over the fitness of Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe ahead of their trip to Yorkshire. Both players could miss out on Sunday, dealing the Gunners a major blow. Kieran Tierney and David Luiz have been ruled out but Calum Chambers is back after missing the midweek clash.
There are likely to be a few changes made to the side that took the field against Slavia Prague in midweek. No alterations are expected in goal though, with Bernd Leno the undisputed starter. The returning Chambers should get the nod over Hector Bellerin at right-back owing to his physical presence that can come in handy against the Blades. Cedric Soares should continue on the left.
📋 Our latest team news ahead of #SHUARS 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 10, 2021
Gabriel Magalhaes has looked shaky in recent games and could drop out at Bramall Lane, making way for Pablo Mari. The Spaniard will have Rob Holding as his partner at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey are obvious picks in the central midfield roles. With Arsenal likely to dominate possession, their output on the ball becomes vital. With both Smith Rowe and Odegaard doubts for the clash, Willian could slot in as the No. 10 for Arsenal from where he will look to carve out openings.
Nicolas Pepe has earned a start after scoring in midweek and should slot in on the right-wing while Bukayo Saka moves out to the left. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be the man leading the line for the Gunners. The likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli will provide options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Cedric; Partey, Xhaka; Pepe, Willian, Saka; Aubameyang
- Arsenal to win @ 1.57
- Bukayo Saka to score anytime @ 3.00
- Arsenal have played more Premier League matches at Bramall Lane without winning than at any other ground (4). Their last away top-flight win at Sheffield United was in April 1991, winning 2-0 with goals from Kevin Campbell and Alan Smith.
- Sheffield United are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season, netting just 17 goals in 30 games.
- London teams have won each of their last three Premier League visits to face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane (West Ham, Tottenham, Chelsea), as many as sides from the capital had won in their first 24 visits to the ground in the competition (W3 D6 L15).
- This will be Sheffield United’s 24th consecutive Premier League game starting the day bottom of the table – only six teams have ever had a longer such run in the competition, most recently Aston Villa in 2015-16 (28 games).
- Arsenal have conceded three goals in each of their last two Premier League games (3-3 vs West Ham, 0-3 vs Liverpool), having let in three or more goals just twice in their previous 37 league outings.
Player to Watch
Nicolas Pepe has 1️⃣3️⃣ Goals ⚽️ and Assists 🎯 this season and he has only started 1️⃣8️⃣ games.
Very interesting stats! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/efzTaDSWV3
— Arsenal Inside (@arsenalinside_) April 10, 2021
The Ivory Coast international came off the bench to find the back of the net for Arsenal in the midweek game against Slavia Prague. With that goal, he has taken his tally for the season to nine goals in 37 games across all competitions – bettering his return from last season. While his time at Arsenal has largely been marred by inconsistencies, Pepe has the quality to be a game-changer for the Gunners.
The flair and guile he offers on the ball, coupled with his pace and the ability to find the back of the net make him a major threat to any team, when he gets going. Following his goal in midweek, the 25-year-old should be high on confidence. Expect him to make the most of his opportunity on Sunday against Sheffield United.
Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal’s defence has looked shaky of late, with the Gunners not keeping a clean sheet in any of their last nine Premier League games. And even though Sheffield United are not the most prolific team, they should have enough about them to trouble the Gunners’ defence.
However, with Bukayo Saka in good nick and Nicolas Pepe also looking dangerous in the last game, Mikel Arteta’s side should have enough firepower in attack to see off the Blades and end their winless run on Sunday night.