Sead Kolasinac

Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video)

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Sheffield United secured a signature victory on Monday, upending Arsenal, one of the Premier League‘s big boys, 1-0 at Bramall Lane.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Lys Mousset scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half, and Chris Wilder‘s side put forth a defensive clinic to frustrate the Gunners and wrap up their fourth clean sheet of the still-young season.


3 things we learned

  1. Arsenal’s midfield needs a shakeupGranit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock is a thoroughly industrious midfield trio, only lacking someone with the tactical discipline to hold position in front of the backline. All three are at their best when on the ball and pushing forward, which too often leaves the (shaky in its own right) defense far too exposed.
  2. Sheffield United rock-solid defensively — For a newly promoted side to come up and hold the joint-best defensive record (7 goals conceded in 9 games, tied with Liverpool) in the PL is no small accomplishment. The Blades were just short of impenetrable on Monday, allowing just nine shots (three on target) to one of the big-six sides.
  3. No Plan B for Arsenal — Given the speed they possess on the wings and up front, Arsenal are clearly built to be a counter-attacking team that can punish you at the slightest opening. Against a team like United, though, what happens when the game never opens up and presents those chances? When the game sets up for them, they’re great, but Unai Emery could do with a Plan B. The other option would be to continue dropping points against (with all due respect) much lesser sides.

Man of the Match: Chris Basham


Nicolas Pepe whiffed on the game’s first golden scoring chance in the 21st minute. Sead Kolasinac tore down the left wing and delivered a cross to the top of the six-yard box where Pepe was three yards clear of the nearest defender.

United went ahead right on the half-hour mark, when Mousset tapped the ball home from close range after Oliver Norwood‘s corner kick was headed down by Jack O'Connell. Mousset had worked himself free in the center of the goal mouth and applied the finishing touch from three yards out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The more desperate Arsenal got in the second half, the tighter United’s defensive hold became. The Gunners managed just two shots from inside the penalty area in the second half, as the Blades’ line of confrontation dropped deeper and deeper and refused service into the box.

The victory sees United climb six spots in the PL table, up to ninth place, now four points clear of the relegation zone. Arsenal, meanwhile, fell to fifth place after entering the weekend third, thanks to victories by Leicester City and Chelsea.

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Arsenal

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Arsenal looks to rise back to third in the Premier League table as they travel to Bramall Road to take on Sheffield United live on NBCSN at 3:00 p.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Blades have lost their last three home games but have looked up for the task against other top Premier League sides this season and are hoping to finally secure the upset they’ve been searching.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Gunners have named a nearly unchanged side from the pre-international break win over Bournemouth, with just Joe Willock coming in for Dani Cabellos in midfield. Alexandre Lacazette returns to the bench for an opportunity at a late appearance that would mark his first minutes since September 1. Kieran Tierney remains on the bench with Sead Kolasinac preferred at left-back, while Calum Chambers starts at right-back with Hector Bellerin not named in the squad.

[MORE: Preview Sheffield United v. Arsenal ]

For Sheffield United, Lys Mousset comes into the squad for Oli McBurnie, who misses out thanks to a knee injury picked up on international duty, while his DUI charge last night certainly didn’t help his chances for selection. David McGoldrick is Mousset’s strike partner with Callum Robinson dropped to the bench as well, while captain Billy Sharp can only make the bench. Chris Wilder deploys a three-at-the-back system yet again with George Baldock and Enda Stevens playing out wide on the flanks.

LINEUPS

Sheffield United: Henderson; Baldock, Stevens, Fleck; O’Connell, Basham, Lundstram, Egan, Norwood, McGoldrick, Mousset.
Bench: Freeman, Jagielka, Besic, Moore, Robinson, McBurnie, Sharp.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, David Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.
Bench: Martinez, Holding, Tierney, Torreira, Ceballos, Martinelli, Lacazette.

Tierney, Lacazette available for Arsenal

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Arsenal are edging closer to finally having a full-strength squad.

Ahead of Monday’s prime-time matchup with Sheffield United, Arsenal manager Unai Emery confirmed that Kieran Tierney was in line to make his Premier League debut, while Alexandre Lacazette was back in full training and should be in the gameday squad.

“Today is Lacazette’s first training back with us,” Emery said in a press conference on Thursday. “He finished it well and he’s feeling well with his injuries. Tomorrow we will be training again and he will be with us. We will decide.

“The most important thing is that first he is training, then secondly it’s whether he can be with us and it depends how he can feel in the next days training with us, whether his ankle is not giving him any more problems.”

This is a huge boost to Arsenal, which has had to rely on some youngsters and have made some lineup changes to accommodate not having Lacazette on the field. Tierney meanwhile could step into a position where there’s already a decent starter, Sead Kolasinac.

Lacazette’s return also couldn’t have come at a better time. In Premier League action, Arsenal’s high-powered offense has been stymied, scoring just two goals in the last two league games. Meanwhile, against weaker defenses in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup, Arsenal has bagged a total of 12 goals.

The veteran Frenchman has scored two goals in three appearances so far this season, including a big goal just before halftime in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham. However, he suffered a long-term ankle injury in that match that has kept him on the sidelines for more than a month.

“[Tierney is] ready to play,” Emery later said. Now we have two options in that left-back role with Sead Kolasinac and him. We’re going to play a lot of matches after Monday. We will need every player. It depends how he comes into the first training with us, Sead, after his international matches. We now have two players in that position and we can use one on Monday, it depends how they are, one or the other.”

Tierney, the 22-year-old Scottish left back, has made two appearances for the Arsenal first team since recovering from a double hernia operation over the summer. Signed from Celtic for around $32 million, Tierney adds a skill that Kolasinac has struggled with – expert crosser of the ball into the box, where the likes of Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can score when given a decent chance.

Ozil: ‘I was scared about my wife,’ but Kolasinac ‘was really, really brave’

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Three months after the terrifying incident, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has opened up about the evening that he, alongside his wife and teammate Sead Kolasinac, was targeted by knife-wielding carjackers on the streets of London.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Son happy South Korea “unscathed” in North Korea qualifier ]

Ozil says that above all else he was scared for the safety of his wife, Amine, and recognizes how brave and heroic the actions of Kolasinac were that day. If not for Kolasinac’s instant reaction to jump out of the car and go after the attackers, Ozil fears they would have entered the car through the passenger door, where his wife was sitting — quotes from the Athletic (subscription required):

“Sead’s reaction was really, really brave because he attacked one of the attackers. The second one was in front of my car on his moped so I couldn’t drive.

“We were newly wed and I was scared about my wife. I was scared about Sead. I wasn’t thinking about myself. I was worried they were going to open my wife’s door and they tried, so I reached across her to keep it closed.

“Nothing happened to us, that’s the most important thing. We were worried these guys had been targeting us, but the police said they found them and, a few hours earlier, they tried to robbed other people nearby in a similar way.”

Since the incident, Kolasinac has returned as a first-team regular (when healthy), while Ozil has remained just on the outside of Unai Emery‘s squad. The 31-year-old German international has made just one Premier League appearance this season, now more than a month ago, on Sept. 15. Though there has been much speculation over his future, Ozil insists he only sees himself remaining an Arsenal player for the foreseeable future.

“I have a contract until the summer of 2021 and I will be staying until then. When I signed the new deal, I thought about it very carefully and said it was one of the most important decisions of my footballing career.

“I didn’t want to stay for just one or two more years, I wanted to commit my future to Arsenal and the club wanted me to do the same. You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away.”

Emery pleased as youth helps Arsenal outlast Bournemouth, keep clean sheet

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Arsenal boss Unai Emery says it’s more than the clean sheet his side kept in a 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth, but how they looked in keeping it.

The Gunners copped just their second Premier League clean sheet of the season on Sunday. The first coming against sterile Newcastle, this one against lively Bournemouth felt a lot better.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth ]

That Arsenal did it after playing Thursday, and with four young players getting big minutes, means a lot to Emery.

“For me it’s one step more for the young players, for us,” he said. “We didn’t feel fear with that moment when the opposition was pushing us. Really I think the second half we can analyze and improve, we will do. In 90 minutes we deserved to win.”

Bukayo Saka (18) and Matteo Guendouzi (20) both started, with the latter going 90 minutes in a Man of the Match performance. Joe Willock (20) and Gabriel Martinelli (18) came into the game to see it out.

And the defense. David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Sead Kolasinac have been a part of some horror shows this season, but — together with Calum Chambers — they were much better on Sunday.

“I remember the last matches we played here,” Emery said. “We can remember that we can improve with that spirit. The level in the Premier League is more than the cups but we played with one idea and one style. We want to use this way. An objective today was to win and then to take that way. The first half we did that.”

With Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, and Wolves next, the Gunners have winnable matches that will also test their resolve. Let’s see what lies ahead for the Top Four chasing Gunners.