Arsenal return from the international break to face a difficult trip to Bramall Lane on Monday Night Football to face Sheffield United.
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, eight across all competitions, and so Unai Emery will hope that the break hasn’t disrupted their momentum while Arsenal, being one of the most-liked teams in the Premier League, will hope to avoid falling further adrift of Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the table.
Further, he’ll hope that it’s given some of his injured stars a chance to build towards making a comeback, with The Sun noting that he could be handed a major boost with forward Alexandre Lacazette looking to make his comeback.
The Frenchman has been badly missed in his time out injured, though it’s worth noting that Emery also has exciting young attackers like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to choose from in his absence.
Time will tell if he gets the green light to feature, but ultimately he would be a welcome addition to the match day squad to add a bigger attacking threat for the Gunners. Meanwhile, Paul Merson recently insisted that Emery should bring Mesut Ozil back into the mix after his recent omission from the line-up.
Although Arsenal sit in third place in the Premier League table and have collected 15 points from their opening eight games, they haven’t been particularly prolific in front of goal.
Having scored 13 goals in those eight outings, that gives them the worst scoring tally of the top five sides, and so the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will undoubtedly welcome the return of Lacazette to add a different dynamic to their attacking play and take some of the pressure off the Gabon international to score all the team’s goals.
There is surely also room for a creative talent like Ozil as well, however, and Emery surely cannot afford to keep on leaving the German attacker out of his first-team plans.
The former Real Madrid star could get into the starting line up of most top teams in Europe on his day, and even despite a recent decline and lack of action for Arsenal, continues to be linked with big clubs like Barcelona, Inter Milan and even AFC’s rivals Manchester United.
As for the hosts, they’ll be relatively content with their start to the season as they look to firstly avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
Chris Wilder’s side are in 13th place in the standings ahead of kickoff with nine points on the board, although with just one win in their last five, they’ll be hoping to pick up their form and get an important three points.
Given it’s a Monday night game and so the atmosphere should be particularly lively, it could be a huge boost for them. Time will tell though if they give the home faithful a reason to get behind them and put Arsenal under pressure.
Arsenal have had the better of the most recent meetings between the two sides, winning three of the last five encounters, though it is worth noting that they generally have a poor away record in Sheffield, with past fixtures against Sheffield Wednesday also taken into account.
Still, one of the more embarrassing of defeats for Arsene Wenger came at Bramall Lane in the 2006/07 season as his side were beaten 1-0 by the Blades, who were down to ten men for a portion of that match and had to resort to playing defender Phil Jagielka in goal – not that Arsenal troubled him much!
The last time they met though was in September 2008 in the League Cup, with the Gunners running out 6-0 winners with goals from Nicklas Bendtner (2), Carlos Vela (3) and Jack Wilshere.
In turn, this will be a completely different proposition with two entirely different sides, and while the odds will likely favour the visitors, they’ll know that they’ll need to be at their best to ensure that they secure a win.