Mikel Arteta’s men will look to get back to winning ways when they take on Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. We look ahead with our data-powered Arsenal vs Sheffield United prediction and preview.
Arsenal vs Sheffield United: Quick Hits
- Arsenal (67.1%) are predicted to record a home victory against Sheffield United (11.5%) this weekend, according to the Opta supercomputer.
- Arsenal remain unbeaten in the Premier League this season (six wins, three draws), with no side keeping more clean sheets than the Gunners heading into Matchday 10 (four).
- This is the latest into an English top-flight season (10th game) that an unbeaten team (Arsenal) and a winless team (Sheffield United) have faced off since 1923-24, when unbeaten Cardiff City drew 1-1 at home with winless Preston North End in their 11th game of the campaign.
Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season will face another test on Saturday as they welcome struggling Sheffield United to the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners head into MD 10 third in the league table, five points behind fierce rivals and leaders Tottenham, aided by a solid defence that has conceded just eight goals this season, tied for second fewest in the league.
Yet, six of those goals have come at the Emirates and Saturday provides the opportunity for Arsenal to record consecutive home clean sheets in the league for the first time since December 2021 (a run of four), a startling fact considering they have lost just twice on home soil in the Premier League since the start of last term.
Saturday pits the Gunners against a side running very low on confidence after a terrible start to life back in the Premier League, with Sheffield United yet to win in their nine games so far and taking one point from a possible 27. Only the Blades themselves, in the 2020-21 campaign, have taken as few as one point from their opening 10 games of a Premier League season, and of course they were relegated to the Championship that time around.
They are, perhaps unsurprisingly, bottom of the Premier League and manager Paul Heckingbottom is under fire, yet the poor starts of fellow strugglers Bournemouth, Burnley and Luton mean an upset win on Saturday could take the Blades to within a point of safety.
However, history will tell you that an away triumph is unlikely. London has been far from a happy hunting ground of late for Sheffield United, who have lost their last nine visits to the capital in the top flight. They have won just two of their 32 Premier League away games in London, losing 22 and drawing eight.
Arsenal are also formidable against promoted sides, especially at home where they are unbeaten in 36 Premier League meetings with teams who have come up the previous season, winning 31 of those encounters.
The frustration for Sheffield United fans must be that their team have been competitive in the majority of games, with five of their eight defeats coming by just the one goal. Admittedly, they were also on the receiving end of an 8-0 humiliation at the hands of Newcastle United, and those eight goals account for a large chunk of the Blades’ league-worst goal difference (-17), but no team have scored an equalising goal in more different Premier League games this season than Sheffield United (five). Going on to lose four of those matches has been a major part of the problem.
Arsenal won 2-1 at Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday, but the victory came at considerable cost as Gabriel Jesus was forced off late on having scored what proved to be the winner, clutching at his hamstring, and the Brazil international could be set for a spell on the sidelines.
Thomas Partey, meanwhile, missed the game with Sevilla altogether because of a muscular injury picked up in training on Monday, and Arteta stated afterwards he did not know how long the Ghana international would be unavailable for having only just returned from a groin injury.
Heckingbottom could be boosted by the returns of George Baldock and William Osula, both of whom have missed game time of late due to injury, while Oli McBurnie is also likely to be available for the lineup having gone off after his goal from the spot in the 2-1 loss to Manchester United at the weekend. Heckingbottom is not so fortunate at centre-back, where Chris Basham, John Egan and Anel Ahmedhodzic are all out.
Arsenal vs Sheffield United Head-to-Head
Arsenal have lost just two of their last 19 league games against Sheffield United, with those defeats coming in consecutive meetings at Bramall Lane in December 2006 and October 2019.
The Gunners are unbeaten in 18 home meetings with Sheffield United, last losing at home to the Blades in August 1971 in a 1-0 top-flight defeat.
The last encounter between the teams came back in April 2021. Alexandre Lacazette scored twice to lift Arsenal to a 3-0 win against a soon-to-be relegated Sheffield United side that had Heckingbottom as caretaker. He eventually took the job on full-time in November of that year after Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked.
Arsenal are yet to lose in nine league outings this season, and the excellent form of Bukayo Saka has played a huge part in that. He has scored (four) or assisted (three) in seven of his eight Premier League appearances this term, including his last six in a row. The last Arsenal player to score or assist a goal in seven consecutive league games was Alexis Sánchez (April 2016), and the last Englishman to do so for the club was Ian Wright (November 1994) – illustrious company for Saka to join.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are yet to pick up a point on the road this season, scoring just three goals and conceding nine in away games, having averaged 1.7 points per game away from home in gaining promotion from the 2022-23 Championship. Their away goal difference of -6 is tied for second worst in the Premier League.
Arteta’s men have been experts of the late show this season, with no team scoring more Premier League goals in the final 15 minutes of games this term than Arsenal’s six, netting in the 77th and 84th minutes last weekend to rescue a draw from 2-0 down away at Chelsea. This could be a huge factor on Saturday, with Sheffield United also conceding the most over that period of matches (eight).
Arteta will want a strong start from kick-off, a key part of last season’s success that his side have not yet been able to replicate this campaign. They are yet to score in the opening 15 minutes of a game, after scoring a joint-high 13 in that period last term.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Arsenal vs Sheffield United Prediction
The Opta supercomputer is backing Arsenal to pick up a comfortable home victory on Saturday to get back in the win column against a beleaguered Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium.
Across 10,000 match simulations conducted before kick-off, Arsenal came out on top 67.1% of the time, with the Blades coming away with a shock victory in only 11.5% of scenarios. A point would be a great result for Heckingbottom’s men, though they earned a draw in just 21.4% of our supercomputer’s simulations.
Arsenal and Sheffield United are expected to be in heavily contrasted positions come the end of the season with the Gunners deemed third favourites to win the Premier League title, given an 8.17% of pipping Manchester City (76.2%) and Liverpool (12.66%) to glory by the Opta supercomputer. Sheffield United, meanwhile, are considered the biggest favourites to go down, getting relegated in 86.8% of Opta’s 10,000 simulations ahead of MD 10.