Arsenal vs Sheffield United | Sunday 4th October 2020, 14:00 | Sky Sports
Sheffield United boasted an impressive record against sides from the Big Smoke last season as they went undefeated in 12/12 Premier League games. However, Arsenal will be licking their lips at the prospect of welcoming the Blades to The Emirates as the side from South Yorkshire are yet to score in the EPL this season, let alone register a point.
It's fair to say that it's not been the start that Chris Wilder would have desired in his side’s sophomore season with the Blades firmly rooted to the relegation zone. The Blades boss may draw some encouragement from the fact that his side took four points from the Gunners last campaign though.
Their hosts lost 3-1 at Anfield in their last EPL game and it served as a timely reminder as to the gulf in class between the Gunners and the defending champions Liverpool. Prior to that, Mikel Arteta's men had won three out of three in all competitions in what has been a promising start to their season.
Arsenal have no fresh injuries to report since their midweek shootout with Liverpool in the Cup, however, Arteta remains without; Chambers, Martinelli, Smith-Rowe and potentially Sokratis.
I fancy that the Spanish supremo will drop the conservative Elneny and Maitland-Niles for the creativity of Ceballos and more forward thinking Saka in a 3-4-3 as follows; Leno; Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
The mood at Shirecliffe will have been boosted by the arrival Brewster – the highly-regarded youngster from Liverpool – who signed for a club record fee on Friday. However, the ex-Swansea loanee is unavailable for Sunday's clash.
John Egan's suspension is spent and thus is expected to return at the heart of a back three. Jack O'Connell and Lys Mousset have both been ruled out. Uncertainty lies in who gets the nod from Wilder in the left side of centre midfield; Osborn or Fleck?
The same question can be posed for who gets selected up top. I think the Blades will go for a 3-5-2 formation with; Ramesdale; Robinson, Egan, Basham; Stevens, Osborn, Berge, Lundstrum, Baldock; McGoldrick, Burke.
Arsenal Over 554.5 Passes (7/10 Boylesports)
The Gunners attempted 669 passes vs West Ham and 626 vs Fulham, smashing Boylesports line of 554.5 both times in the process and I expect them to do the same on Sunday.
As previously eluded to, the Blades travel to the capital in search of their first points of the season and therefore I expect that Wilder will set out his stall pragmatically.
Only four EPL sides conceded fewer goals than the Blades did last campaign and I expect Wilder will do all he can to avoid conceding in London in the hope hi side can emulate the resilience they showed last season. This should seem they deploy the usual low block as they look to suffocate the space closer to their own goal.
Arteta's Arsenal will have no qualms with dominating the ball. The Spaniard's ethos revolve around total football; playing out from the back – to a fault at times- and pressing high. The teams contradicting styles should ensure that the Gunners dominate possession and hit Boylesports attempted passing line.
Sander Berge Passes (Ladbrokes)
For the talk of Arsenal domination, it would be remiss to dismiss Sheffield United as a one dimensional, agricultural side as the have played some attractive football during their tenure in the top-flight. Central to this is Wilder's lynchpin- his quarterback at CDM – Oli Norwood.
The Northern Ireland international operates in-front of the back three and orchestrates the play. His dominance in possession is best illustrated by the fact that last season he completed 2,007 passes, 500 more then the next best player for Sheffield United! However, he had competition for a place this season in the form of Sander Berge.
The ‘big Norwegian geezer' – as Wilder refers to him as – seems to be the more favourable option at CDM with Wilder opting for Berge in their last game vs Leeds. During which Berge topped United's charts for attempted passes with 39.
Playing CDM, Norwood averaged 39.3 passes in his three appearances vs Arsenal last season. on Sunday, Sander Berge is 15/8 to attempt 40 passes and 8/1 to attempt 50, both appeal. I would wait to line-ups for this bet however, as it is essential, he starts CDM (he could start RCM).
Sheffield United +1 Asian Handicap (97/100 Bet365)
I wanted to recommend something from a more substantial market to ensure prices lasted till kick-off. Despite not registering a point yet this season – or scoring a goal – Sheffield United have an Expected Points (xP) tally of 3.71 ranking them 13th which is only two places behind Arsenal in 11th with an xP of 4.11.
The Blades have lost their last two games by a one-goal margin and have won on Expected Goals (xG) in all three of their EPL games so far. In 44 games last season, Sheff Utd only lost by more than one goal on seven occasions.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have only beaten Fulham in terms of xG. Unsurprisingly, Liverpool beat them (in terms of xG) however, West Ham also had a higher xG (2.06) than Arsenal’s (1.33). Add to this, in 54 games last season, Arsenal only more by more than one goal 10 times.
Sheffield United +1 Asian Handicap means the bets a winner if the Blades avoid defeat, you get your stake back if United lose by one goal.
Arsenal vs Sheffield United – Arsenal Over 554.5 Passes (7/10 Boylesports)
Arsenal vs Sheffield United – Sander Berge to Attempt 40 Passes (15/8 Ladbrokes)
Arsenal vs Sheffield United – Sander Berge to Attempt 50 Passes (8/1 Ladbrokes)
Arsenal vs Sheffield United – Sheffield United +1 Asian Handicap (97/100 Bet365)