Arsenal travel to Bramall Lane on Monday night as they resume their Premier League campaign with a match against plucky newbies Sheffield United.
Yep, it’s the Gunners versus the Blades – oh, the wordplay opportunities! Unai Emery takes his recruits up to Yorkshire to do battle with this season’s surprise package, with the Londoners only a point behind champions Manchester City after eight rounds of action this term.
Arsenal threatened to blow Bournemouth away in their last league fixture, but ended up fizzling out as they scraped a 1-0 victory thanks to David Luiz’s ninth-minute opener. Meanwhile, United failed to put Watford to the sword as they were held to a stalemate in Hertfordshire.
Here’s seven stats and facts you should know ahead of the clash.
Arsenal haven’t enjoyed their visits to Bramall Lane in the past, winning none of their last four league games at the stadium following a 2-0 triumph in April 1991.
They have managed to secure three draws in those encounters, yet they’re still waiting on a first victory away to the Blades in the Premier League era. The Gunners have played more games there without a win than any other ground since the competition was re-branded.
But Can They York the York?
As proven by Luiz’s claim that Arsenal are indeed in the title race, it’s clear Emery’s men can talk the talk. But, can they York the York? You bet they can.
The Gunners have taken the points in each of their last seven top-flight matches in God’s own county, including a 1-0 triumph in the final game of Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign.
In terms of the English first division, that’s the longest ever winning run by an away side in Yorkshire – they’ve truly reached the pinnacle of footballing achievement.
A Dull Blade
United have lost three home games on the bounce in the Premier League. They haven’t fallen to defeat in four consecutive top flight matches at Bramall Lane since April 1965.
To be fair to Chris Wilder, the Blades faced high-flying Leicester City and runaway leaders Liverpool in two of those, whilst they were marginally edged out by Southampton and had Billy Sharp dismissed in the other encounter.
Oh Know, Unai!
Emery has been getting the results on the board, even if the performances haven’t always been there from his side. Amongst the many stats proving Arsenal still have plenty of improving to do, their dire record of clean sheets in away games stands out as one of the most concerning.
In their 23 Premier League games on the road under the Spaniard’s management, the Gunners have only denied their opponents a goal on two occasions.
One came versus a timid Newcastle United on opening day this August, whilst the other was earned at Watford after the Hornets had skipper Troy Deeney sent off within the opening quarter of an hour. Let’s see how they fare against a fierce Blades outfit.
What Monday Blues?
Arsenal’s 3-0 humbling at the hands of Crystal Palace in April 2017 is their only loss in their last 11 Monday night matches in the league. They’ve been victorious in eight of the rest, having to settle for a point in only two.
Most people are grouchy when they start the week, but it seems the Gunners are almost always raring to go on Mondays. If they can bring that form to fixtures that take place on Saturdays and Sundays, Luiz could well be proved right.
Slow and Steady Wins/Draws the Race
Of the seven Premier League goals Wilder’s team have scored in 2019/20, just one has come before half-time. Sluggish starts don’t appear to be a problem for the Yorkshiremen, however, as they currently sit on nine points and are in a healthy 13th place in the standings.
Nor is the lack of a prolific goalscorer an issue for United, with none of their squad netting more than once in the top-flight this term. As a result, Everton colossus Yerry Mina and Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma are join top scorers for the Blades, having both put through their own net against the new boys.
As we’ve seen, the visitors have some defensive issues on the road. Fortunately for them there are no such issues up top, courtesy of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s stellar showings in away fixtures.
The Gabon international has collected 80% of his side’s league goals away from the Emirates Stadium this season, Lucas Torreira the only other man to get on the scoresheet at a rival’s ground. Fingers crossed he stays fit.
Source : 90min