Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sheffield United preview: Three points and maybe a bit more

Once again Arsenal play after our two title rivals, with wins for both Liverpool and Man City this weekend, there’s just a little extra pressure going into tonight’s game with Sheffield United.

It is only a little bit, as it’s already abundantly clear we are in a serious fight for this season’s Premier League. This is genuinely heavyweight stuff, so regardless of what the others do, there’s no other acceptable outcome this evening than three points. As such, it’d be a surprise to see much in the way of rotation this evening.

When we played Sheffield United at home this season, Mikel Arteta played Jakub Kiwior at centre-half ahead of Gabriel, and gave a first start of the campaign to Emile Smith Rowe in midfield. Kiwior might well start tonight, but at left back where he might be the only fit option, but it’d be a surprise to see Smith Rowe again. The stakes are too high, the game is away from home, and we’re at a point in the season where risk taking – even with a bit of strategy built in – becomes a bit less doable.

So, I think it’ll basically be the side that beat Newcastle, but possibly without Jorginho in midfield. That would mean an extra attacking player against the team that prop up the table and have conceded the most goals this season, so if it’s Leandro Trossard, that would make sense.

Mikel Arteta will warn his players against complacency this evening. There’s no doubt Sheffield United are a poor side, almost certainly doomed to relegation at this point, but at home the very least we can expect from them is some fight, and that’s always a consideration when you face a team in their position and scrapping as hard as they can to avoid/delay the inevitable. The manager says:

They’re a really difficult team to beat. I’ve watched four or five games now with the City game, the way they started against Villa, and then obviously the game took a different route, but as you mentioned they are extremely well coached. I know Chris really well and I admire his teams, a lot of things that he does with them. It will be Monday night football and it’s going to be a tough night.

After what happened this weekend in the other games, we know we have to win, and without being at all presumptuous, it’s an opportunity to continue our recent domestic form and improve our goal difference. You can’t take anything for granted in this league, but I’m sure ruthlessness in front of goal is something Arteta will want from his side later on. Every game is different, but if we can smash our way past West Ham, Burnley and Newcastle, the manager will be looking for something similar later on.

Let’s hope he gets it.

I mentioned yesterday and for a little while it looked like Manchester United might do us and Liverpool a favour, but anyone who didn’t understand the inevitable was going to happen has not paid any attention to who they are these days. Seriously, they are absolutely shit. There’s no other way to say it. No way to sugarcoat it. Just a genuinely bad team. Look at the base-level stats from yesterday:

We all know how good Man City are, and how their special blend of 115 fruits and vegetables helps them maintain their prowess throughout the season, but that’s embarrassing from a United perspective. After Marcus Rashford scored a brilliant goal and decided that his work for the day was done, City completely dominated them. It should have been level before the break but Erling Haaland’s extraordinary miss from 2 feet out meant they kept the lead at half-time.

As for the nonsense about a foul on Rashford before the City equaliser, give me a break. If that was an Arsenal player and he chose to just fall over – because that’s what he did – rather than keep possession and try to make something happen in the City final third, I’d be furious. It was a great hit from Phil Foden, but there was no big injustice here, just pathetic nonsense from a pathetic team with a pathetic manager who insisted afterwards his team had played well.

One of the things I liked about Mikel Arteta from the start is that he would absolutely front-up when performances were below par, admitting the standard wasn’t good enough, and taking responsibility for that. Erik ten Hag is living in fantasy land. Honestly, when asked if there was a gulf between the two sides, he said:

No, I don’t think so, absolutely not. It’s not that big and when we have everyone on board, we can be competitive.

I’m sorry, but he’s insane. He has lost his mind. Look, as an Arsenal fan this is a double-edged sword. We want City to drop points, but United being this bad is objectively hilarious. It will never not be funny to see such an expensively assembled team be as bad as they are, but imagine if you’re a United fan this morning hearing your manager come out with nonsense like that after you’ve basically been humiliated in a derby. Rashford’s one in a hundred wonder strike glossing over your ineptitude as City fans crow about how easy it is to beat you.

Like I said, it doesn’t do us any favours in the title race, but we all understand this was going to be the case yesterday. City are inevitable, United are a bunch of garbage men. For more on this, and all other Premier League action this weekend, join us for an episode of The 30 over on Patreon later on.

Also, we’ll have live blog coverage of our game, plus post-match stuff on Arseblog News. For now, have a good one.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast