The Gunners went into the international break sitting pretty in third place in the Premier League, just one point below Manchester City. Unai Emery has turned around a shaky few games to install a new sense of confidence in this young Arsenal side, and they will face a challenge when they head to Bramall Lane on Monday to take on Sheffield United.
Arsenal have been on a strong recent run of form, and haven’t lost in any competition since a 3-1 defeat at Anfield against Liverpool. However, even in that defeat, there were still positives for Emery to take. The dynamic trio of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe all played their first minutes together on the pitch, and while the initial signs were promising, there is still movement and tactical awareness that Emery must work on with the forwards. That draw was followed up with a fighting display against Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby as the Gunners came back from 2-0 down to salvage a point.
The Europa League form has also been solid for the Gunners as they have won both their opening matches against Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege. In the process, the Gunners have scored seven goals and are yet to concede. Back in the Premier League, however, the form has been plagued with draws. Since that Tottenham fight back, Arsenal have drawn twice and won twice. The two draws had contrasting performances. The first of which was a 2-2 draw against bottom of the table Watford. The Gunners were put into a strong advantage before being pegged back in the final ten minutes. However, the draw at Old Trafford was a much better performance, and the Gunners could have considered themselves unlucky not to have got all three points.
Sandwiched in between them results was another good fight back, which this time ended in victory against Aston Villa. The West Midlands side twice went ahead, before Calum Chambers equalised in the final ten minutes, and Aubameyang fired in a deserved winner for the ten-men. Chambers’ performance was possibly his best in the red and white of Arsenal, and he has excelled in the right-back position. His natural defensive game has assisted the shaky partnership between Sokratis and David Luiz, and the Gunners have kept two clean sheets in the past two games that he has started.
The final game before the most recent international break saw the Gunners host in-form Bournemouth. It wasn’t the best of performances by Arsenal, but an early goal from Luiz was enough to get the three points to lift them to third. There are a lot of aspects that fans will enjoy about the current Arsenal side, and they will be hoping that the introduction of Kieran Tierney and return to fitness of Lacazette could see the Gunners kick up another level and really put down a marker for their top-four hopes this season.
Arsenal Team News
Kieran Tierney could be in line for a first start for the club after training with the first team during the international break, while Alexandre Lacazette also returned to full training. Emile Smith-Rowe remains on the sidelines with a head injury, while Reiss Nelson isn’t expected back until November.
The job that Chris Wilder has done at Sheffield United can’t be underplayed. He has taken them from League One all the way through to the Premier League in less than five years, but staying in the division would be his crowning glory. The Blades have started the season reasonably well and already sit in 13th place. They are just the two points above the relegation places, but their energy levels ensure that they have a chance against most.
Over their last six games in all competitions, they have only lost twice, with those defeats coming against Liverpool and Southampton. In that game against the Reds, they were hugely unfortunate not to have got the point as only an uncharacteristic mistake by Dean Henderson allowed them the opportunity to score. They have also drawn against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and beaten Everton at Goodison Park during this recent run of form which shows that the Gunners will need to prepare for a battle at Bramall Lane.
There could be a first start of the season for Billy Sharp as Oliver McBurnie, and David McGoldrick are both doubts for the game on Monday.
Head to Head
The latest Arsenal odds put them at 9/4 to win, however, their record against the Blades isn’t as dominant as many would have believed. Arsenal have won on 48 occasions, while the Blades have recorded 39 wins. There have also been 26 draws in this fixture. The last meeting between the two in the Premier League came in December 2006 and was won 1-0 by Sheffield United. However, the two previous meetings have both come in the League Cup and were won 3-0 and 6-0 in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
This will be a tough assignment for the Gunners, and one that in previous seasons you would expect the Gunners to lose. However, this new-look Arsenal side are shaped up to beat anyone in the division and three points here would be a brilliant result going into the games coming up.