James Shield, The Star’s Sheffield United writer, identifies some of the key figures set to be involved, analyses the performances of both teams ahead of the game and examines the history surrounding the fixture.
THE TEAMS: Arsenal - Leno, Tierney, Gabriel, Holding, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Elneny, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Willian. United - Ramsdale, Basham, Egan, Ampadu, Stevens, Baldock, Berge, Fleck, Lundstram, Burke, McGoldrick.
THE REFEREE: Lee Mason, from Greater Manchester, will take charge of this game while Andre Marriner will perform VAR duties, assisted by Peter Kirkup. Mason, aged 48, has issued an average of three cautions per game during the three he has overseen so far this term - compared to a figure of 3.07 he returned across the course of the previous campaign. It is over a year since he last produced a red card, although that was shown to United captain Billy Sharp during last term’s defeat by Southampton at Bramall Lane.
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THE GOALS COLUMN: United have not scored a goal in league competition so far this season and conceded four, with two of those coming when they faced Wolverhampton Wanderers during the opening round of games. They have not kept a clean sheet since beating Chelsea 3-0 on home soil in July. Arsenal have hit the target nine times in their five matches so far, including the Community Shield contest against Liverpool. Their defence had been breached on five occasions.
THE FORM GUIDE: United make the journey to the capital on the back of three straight league defeats, having also been knocked out of the EFL Cup on penalties by Burnley. Their last win came three months ago, during that victory over Frank Lampard’s men at Bramall Lane. Their last away win was in February, when they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park. Arsenal have not lost on home soil since February, when Olympiakos ended their Europa League hopes during extra time.
THE LAST TIME OUT: Although Arsenal triumphed 2-1 when the two clubs met in the FA Cup towards the end of last term, United held them to a 1-1 draw in the corresponding Premier League fixture at the Emirates Stadium in January. Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring just before the interval but John Fleck drew the visitors level with eight minutes of normal time remaining, as they mustered as many shots on target as Arsenal despite enjoying only 39 per cent of the possession.
THE PAST NOTES: United have beaten Arsenal only twice in their last 12 meetings, with one of those victories being recorded when the Londoners made the journey to South Yorkshire in the Premier League last season. United also triumphed in the first ever clash between themselves and Arsenal, knocking their rivals out of the FA Cup in February 1903. In total, United have won 40 of their previous meetings, compared to Arsenal’s total of 49, with 28 of their previous matches finishing all square.
THE DETAILS: Arsenal versus Sheffield United, kick-off 2pm. The match is being broadcast live by Sky Sports, while up to the minute coverage is available on The Star’s website.