Sheffield United picked up four points from their two league games with Arsenal last season, but they would be doing very well to repeat the feat on Sunday.
Chris Wilder’s side have shown very worrying signs in their opening three league games this season, failing to pick up a single point or even score a goal.
In truth, the warning signs can be traced back to the restart in mid-June. Sheffield United didn’t appear to come back the same team as before the lockdown and teams seem to have figured them out.
They are seriously struggling for goals up front and, while the imminent acquisition of Rhian Brewster may help in that regard, they will still be short of attacking options at the Emirates.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have enjoyed an unremarkable start to their campaign, comfortably beating a Fulham team that could well emulate the infamous Derby 07/08 team and turning in an underwhelming performance in their home win against West Ham.
They defended well against Liverpool and could have equalised at 2-1, but were outplayed and outmatched at Anfield.
Having said that, nine points from their opening four games would be nothing to sneer at and they have an excellent chance to do so in comfortable style against Sheffield United so we’re on Arsenal (-1). For the Blades, the prospect of being pointless after four games looms large.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is by far and away Arsenal’s best player, but he has yet to score in the league this season. He will be desperate to rectify that.
Aubameyang scored all four of Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final and final goals last season and also found the net in Arsenal’s Charity Shield win against Liverpool.
He is the club’s talisman and the sooner he starts scoring goals again, the sooner Arsenal can seriously launch a top-four bid. He could hardly wish for better opposition to break his scoring duck against.
Sheffield United have been uncharacteristically sloppy at the back so far this season, conceding goals that they were rarely conceding throughout last year’s campaign.
Now, Sheffield United are missing Jack O’Connell, arguably the key part of their back five, and will be a more vulnerable defensive unit as a result. This is an excellent chance for Aubameyang to open his league account and he will be desperate to do so, so we’ll take the Gabon star to Score Anytime.
To Mikel Arteta’s immense credit, Arsenal no longer look like the defensive laughingstock that they have been for as long as anyone can remember. But for a few lapses against Liverpool, they were impressive at the back and Sheffield United will not exploit those lapses like Liverpool did.
The Blades have a handful of decent forwards who seem incapable of finding the back of the net in the Premier League on a regular basis.
Billy Sharp, a proven goalscorer in the Football League, is now 34 and it seems as though his best days are behind him. David McGoldrick, 32, has always been better at linking with other forwards than finding the back of the net himself.
Oli McBurnie, meanwhile, will never be anything more than an average striker who pops up with the occasional goal, while Lys Mousset has been sidelined by a toe injury.
The point is that Sheffield United lack the firepower to hurt an Arsenal side that has improved drastically at the back. Their scoreless start to the season should continue in London on Sunday so we’re on Both Teams To Score? No.
Tips for Arsenal v Sheffield United on Sunday at 14:00
These three selections in a Same Game Multi will give you odds of 9/2 with Paddy Power.
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