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Wilder: Sheff Utd basking in points, not plaudits of Arsenal win

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Sure, Sheffield United secured a signature Premier League win by beating Arsenal on Monday, but manager Chris Wilder is far more pleased with the three points his side earned for a victory rather than focusing on who they beat.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Speaking after the game, Wilder drove home the idea that, to a man, everyone at Sheffield United is pulling in the same direction and has a singular focus. Wilder refused to speak of the victory in grander terms, insisting the famous result was just another stepping stone in the club’s journey — quotes from the BBC:

“We have to look at every game on its merits and we are solid defensively. We want to go forward and drive their best players back, but it is an incredible difference from the Championship. This was always going to be a game where we had to make sure we did our job defensively and kept our shape. We had some decent opportunities and [I’m] made up we got the result. We are not taking about plaudits, we want points and it is a big three points tonight.

“Whatever is put in front of us, we have to attack. People look at the stats — the away form has not been great, but two promotions in three years and we are against big hitters in managers and teams. We are quite happy that they have not scored and it was a good all-around performance form us. The atmosphere at the end drove us to get the three points.

“Every game we will try to get something from. I know it is quite boring from me, but that is where it is at. Accumulation of points, if we can stay in the division then fantastic. We have to ask questions of team who come to Bramall Lame, we are up for the battle and delighted with the points total so far.”

With the victory, United sits ninth in the PL table, now four points clear of the relegation zone.

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.

PL Preview: Sheffield United v. Arsenal

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  • Arsenal has 1 loss in its last 11 Monday matches
  • Sheffield United has 7 goals this PL season from 7 different goalscorers
  • The Blades have not lost 4 home league games in a row since 1965

Arsenal has the opportunity to jump third in the Premier League table and earn early title considerations as they visit pesky Sheffield United on Monday, with kickoff set for 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Sheffield United v. Arsenal ]

The Gunners are currently fifth with 15 points but can leap in front of both Chelsea and Leicester City with victory at Bramall Lane. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in fabulous goalscoring form with seven strikes through the first eight matches of the Premier League season, set to lead the lines again on the road.

Unai Emery has one big question ahead of the match, with Alexandre Lacazette close to a return from his ankle injury but still unsure of his fitness level. The Frenchman netted twice in three matches to start the season but has not featured since September 1. If he is only fit for the bench, 18-year-old Bukayo Saka could see another start on the wing after a bright performance against Bournemouth, or Emery could choose to move Dani Ceballos out to the wing and slide Lucas Torreira into the midfield. Mesut Ozil could also be an option but he has been a periphery player for Emery this year.

Sheffield United sits 15th in the table, just a point above the relegation zone, but the Blades have been a difficult out for Liverpool, Chelsea, and Leicester City already this season and seem poised to pull off a surprising result at some point soon. A trio of internationals returned from duty this past week with injuries, leaving Chris Wilder with some decisions to make. The most obvious seems to be leaving striker Oli McBurnie on the sidelines having been charged with a DUI over the last 24 hours as well as picking up a knee problem over the international break. That would most see either Lys Mousset or Billy Sharp to take the striker role alongside Callum Robinson.

The Blades have been better on the road than at home, having lost their last three at Bramall Lane. Wilder must figure out how to galvanize his team to play in front of the home fans instead of just playing road spoiler where they almost seem more comfortable.

Injuries/suspensions

Sheffield United: QUESTIONABLE – John Fleck (knee), Oli McBurnie (knee), David McGoldrick (groin).

Arsenal: QUESTIONABLE – Alexandre Lacazette (ankle).


Projected lineups

Sheffield United: Henderson; Stevens, O’Connell, Egan, Basham, Baldock; Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram; Robinson, Sharp.

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Bellerin; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.


What they’re saying

Sheffield United manager Wilder on team form: “I thought we played well against Liverpool but we need to pick up something from the game this time and we believe we can do that. We went after Liverpool when we could and picked our times, and we will do that against Arsenal.”

Arsenal boss Emery on Mesut Ozil: “I am really happy with the players. The last two, three, four weeks, every player – and Mesut Ozil – is working very well. This is why we can be positive and we can think we are going to do something important this year.”


Prediction

This game has the potential to be a lot of fun as both sides play a fluid style of possession and pace. Arsenal will have to keep an eye on Robinson as the 24-year-old has the ability to find spaces between defenders, and David Luiz in particular hasn’t been in great form. Still, Sheffield United has a few key injuries that threaten the midfield, and that will ultimately doom them to a 3-1 loss as Aubameyang picks up two more goals.

Sheffield United’s Henderson gets England call-up

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Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson got the call: He’s headed for the Three Lions.

An injury to Burnley’s Tom Heaton opened the door for Henderson, who is on loan from Manchester United.

[ MORE: USMNT players in focus ]

The call-up had been around the corner for some time, and Blades boss Chris Wilder actually mentioned Henderson’s England prospects while referencing a mistake against Liverpool.

Henderson has represented England at the U-16, U-17, U-20, and U-21 levels.

He’s never played for Manchester United’s first team, but has succeeded in loan stints to Shrewsbury Town, Stockport County, and Grimsby Town as well as Sheffield United. This is his second year on loan with the Blades.

He was a PFA Team of the Year keeper for the Shrews in 2017-18, and claimed the Championship’s Golden Glove Award last season.

Watford, Sheffield United wallow in scoreless draw

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A forgettable draw at Vicarage Road saw Watford and Sheffield United each take a point.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors move 12th with nine points, while last-place Watford remains winless after eight matches and has three points.


Three things we learned

1. Chances untaken by Hornets…: When your club is playing poorly, even the good things go sour. Roberto Pereyra was a spark plug, and should’ve had Watford up 1-0 inside of 10 minutes when he swept a cross around Tom Heaton and onto the path of Andre Gray. Gray might’ve been proven offside by VAR but it didn’t get that far as the former Burnley man slapped his shot over the bar.

2. …Or anyone for that matter: Between goalkeepers Ben Foster and Dean Henderson, there was a total of five saves. Watford was credited with the only big chances created in the match (three)

3. Norwood the star man: Look to the captain. If anything was going to happen, it seemed like the Blades skipper was going to be the man who got it done. Our Man of the Match, Norwood had 115 touches and completed 88 percent of his passes in the middle of the park. A lackluster Man of the Match? Sure, but it was a lackluster game.


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

There were chances for both teams in the early stages — see Point No. 1 above — and Watford was unable to take care of some disorganization from the Blades at the back.

But Sheffield United’s pursuit of a goal seemed more likely to produce something, creative rather than relying on errors from the Hornets.