Scout report: How Sheffield United can upset Arsenal and keep the European qualification dream going this weekend

Sheffield United head into this weekend's clash against Arsenal in excellent spirits, after breaking the 30-point milestone with their 1-0 victory over West Ham United last Friday night at Bramall Lane.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 4:45 pm

Now, the Blades will look to kick on, and, while Chris Wilder will be reluctant to admit it, look to pull off the previously unthinkable and secure a Europa League qualification spot.

Here's a look at United's opponents this weekend, and how the Blades could do the double over the North London outfit…

What has the Gunners' form been like?

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(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Very...well, Arsenal, to be honest. They've won just one league game out of four with Arteta in charge, with the 2-0 New Year's Day victory against Manchester United the highlight of their new manager's reign thus far.

Last weekend, they looked very average against Crystal Palace, and had to settle for a point at Selhurst Park - a result that further damaged their push for a top four finish.

Who are the ‘danger men’ United need to look out for?

Arsenal's side is, in truth, more front-loaded than Radiohead's 2000 record 'Kid A'. Rather than properly bolster their defence over the summer, they splurged £72m on attacker Nicolas Pepe from Lille – Arsenal that is, not Thom Yorke’s band.

While Pepe is yet to hit the ground running, Alexandre Lacazette is a formidable finisher and will be looking to find and indeed force gaps in the opposition' defence wherever possible.

The fact that lethal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang misses the game through suspension is a huge boost for the Blades, who will have one less attacking threat to deal with.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for Mesut Ozil, who is, when not preoccupied by playing Fortnite or become embroiled in political controversies, quite the footballer.

What about the manager?

He's looking to become Pep Guardiola 2.0, down to those rather fetching turtle-neck jumpers.

It's Arteta's first gig as a manager, after learning his trade under the expert guidance of the Manchester City boss for three years.

He enjoyed a stellar club career as a player, starring for the likes of Rangers, PSG and Everton. However, he never got the chance to shine on the international stage for Spain, due to the overwhelming competition for places in their golden generation of midfielders.

Their style of play?

If there's one thing notable about Arsenal's new style of play, it's the increase in intensity. While they're far from the vision of footballing excellence that Arteta is looking to forge, they are no longer the lumpen, pedestrian unit that struggled under Emery.

At home, the Gunners will look to assert some authority over Chris Wilder's side, and will look to press them relentlessly when out of possession.

The North Londoners will be keen to replicate the attacking prowess they displayed against Manchester United earlier in the month, and pile the pressure on United's defence with waves of pacey attacks.

Any key weaknesses?

Arsenal's defence is arguably not that of a top six side, let alone top four. The likes of David Luiz and Sokratis are highly error-prone, and the Blades front-line will be on their toes to capitalise on any big blunders.

The Emirates Stadium crowd can also work against their team; in the dying embers of Emery's reign, the hostile atmosphere saw the Gunners freeze on more than one occasion.

If the Blades can frustrate their opposition by breaking up attacks and hogging some possession until half-time, then expect to see the home fans give their players some serious stick.

Arsenal have also conceded nine goals from set-pieces this season – that’s the joint second highest alongside Newcastle United, and behind Aston Villa and Norwich City – and Wilder will no doubt be looking to exploit the Gunners from dead-ball situations.